AUG 2018


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AUGUST 2018 22 CompositesWorld PLANT TOUR experience. Founded as Brunswick Composites, it produced filament-wound missile bodies and pressure vessels for use in manned space flight and obtained its first certification for composite CNG pressure vessels in 1993. Sold in 1994 and renamed Lincoln Composites, it was then acquired in 2002 by General Dynamics (Falls Church, VA, US), which sold the Commercial Products Group to Hexagon. Agility Fuel Services formed a joint venture with Hexagon Composites in 2013 and merged the following year with Hexa- gon's global commercial vehicles businesses, forming Agility Fuel Solutions. "We are vertically integrated from cylinders through to installed systems on vehicles," says Charlie Silio, Agility Fuel Solu- tions VP of corporate strategy, development and marketing. "We design CNG fuel systems for a variety of vehicles and customers, and then integrate the composite cylinders with the plumbing and other systems and install these into each vehicle so that it operates seamlessly, reliably and cost-effectively." Production of Type IV cylinders at vertical integration begins in Lincoln, where the original Brunswick Composites company had its roots. e town is now home to Agility Fuel Solutions, General Dynamics and Hexagon Lincoln which house their production in unique facilities. e Agility facility has grown to a 9,290m 2 manufacturing footprint and currently includes three filament-wound Type IV composite cylinder production lines. Compared to Type I steel cylinders, Type IV cylinders — fea- turing a composite structure wound over a plastic liner — offer a weight savings of up to 70%. is increases payload to more than 85% of the pressure vessel weight and reduces fuel cost more than 60% vs. steel cylinders. Type IV tanks also are lighter than Type II and III cylinders, which are made by winding composites over a metal liner. e Type IV plastic/composite construction resists cyclic fatigue better than metal, offering lower maintenance and operating costs (see Learn More). Chet Dawes, senior VP of Agility's Cylinders & Europe business unit, describes Type IV production in Lincoln, "We wind carbon fiber and epoxy resin over a plastic liner, which acts as a mandrel for the composite structure." (See Fig. 2, p. 23.) Liners are typi- cally high-density polyethylene (HDPE) for CNG cylinders, but polyamide (PA or nylon) offers improved properties for hydrogen (H 2 ) cylinders and better resistance to the smaller H 2 molecules vs. CNG. Agility makes its own plastic liners in the Lincoln facility. "We also use our own formulations for the epoxy resin," Dawes continues, "and high- strength carbon fiber. We have longstanding relationships with our carbon fiber suppliers, which include Toray, Teijin, Hyosung and Mitsubishi." Although a larger tow size — typically 12K or 24K — carbon fiber is used, Dawes says it is not spread. e three production lines use highly automated winding machines that include proprietary inline resin impregnation systems. "We can wind cylinders that are 229 mm in diameter up to 762 mm in diameter, and in lengths from 0.6m to 3.8m," notes Dawes. FIG. 1 More than CFRP cylinders Agility Fuel Solutions integrates CFRP cylinders with plumbing, fuel manage- ment, safety and crash protection systems and installs them on vehicles. CNG fuel systems are mounted into trucks behind the cab (as at right) or are side-mounted, also called rail-mounted (as above), and are typically roof-mounted for buses. Source (top photo) | CW / Photo | Ginger Gardiner Source (photo at right) | Salisbury Post / Photo | John Lakey Agility Fuel Systems is vertically integrated, from cylinders through installed systems on vehicles.

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