To main content

Infrastructure for refueling and charging

SINTEF researches and develops new solutions within the infrastructure of the transportation sector.

The transition to an emission-free transportation sector will require significant investments in the power grid to handle an increasingly extensive charging infrastructure. Additionally, we need new infrastructure and optimized processes to harness the potential of environmentally friendly fuels such as biofuels and hydrogen along roads, in ports, and at airports.

Charging and the power grid

Having the world's best electric cars or airplanes is of little use if you can't charge them. Similarly, having charging stations or home chargers is pointless without a power grid capable of handling the increased load that this charging entails.

For the power grid, charging presents two major challenges: increased electricity consumption and increased electric power load.

 In other words, we need to produce more renewable electricity, and we must deliver more electricity simultaneously. Even with just over 10 % of electric cars on the roads, there are already challenges with the capacity of the electricity grid in rural areas. As more ferries are electrified, the grid capacity at the dock facilities is often limiting for further expansion. Electrifying heavy transport will pose challenges to grid capacity in rural areas due to rapid charging requirements.

Therefore, SINTEF conducts extensive research on both increased utilization of hydropower, solar power, and wind energy and the development of a smarter power grid capable of accommodating future charging infrastructure. Future charging infrastructure involves not only enabling fast charging for vehicles, planes, and ferries as we know it today but also exploring new ways of charging. For example, cars could charge while in motion, allowing them to have much smaller batteries and significantly increase their range.

Norway is already a world leader in electric ferries. SINTEF has expertise in the design and analysis of components and systems for charging electric ferries, including dimensioning, analysis, and regulation of land-based battery systems to support the charging of large electric ferries in weak power grids. We have also contributed to developing the world's first system for contactless inductive charging of car ferries, with a capacity of over 1 MW, and participate in international research to further develop this technology for higher efficiency and/or lower weight.

We build upon this expertise for the aviation industry. We also research alternatives to traditional storage, such as replaceable batteries.

SINTEF has expertise and research infrastructure to test equipment to support technical development, as well as competence in safety aspects and monitoring of such charging solutions.

Hydrogen and ammonia refueling

The adoption of hydrogen as an energy carrier in the transportation sector requires a robust infrastructure from production to consumption.

Onboard ships and vehicles, hydrogen will either be stored as gas under high pressure (GH2) or as a liquid at low temperature (LH2). An important research challenge is how to optimize the process for transport, storage, and fast filling of liquid hydrogen (-253 °C).

Due to hydrogen's special thermodynamic properties, there are significant thermal challenges, as some hydrogen will evaporate during transfer and prolonged storage, as well as a temperature increase in the tank during filling that limits the filling rate. The gas must therefore be cooled before compression.

Thermal insulation and integration are crucial disciplines for developing technology and processes for handling boil-off in connection with LH2 filling stations and onboard ships, vehicles, and planes that will run on LH2. SINTEF has been a key contributor to the development of the LNG industry through laboratory work and modeling, and we transfer this expertise to the use of liquid hydrogen and liquid ammonia.

We also do research on alternatives to refueling, such as replaceable tanks. This is an exciting technology area that will require entirely new constructions of planes, boats, and cars, as well as logistics and infrastructure for storing and changing tanks.

Since 2010, SINTEF has been working on quality control of hydrogen as a fuel. Through several projects (H2MovesScandinavia, HyCoRA, HYDRAITE), SINTEF has mapped the quality of hydrogen from filling stations in Europe. This is documented through numerous publications. These projects have also assessed the effect of impurities on fuel cell systems, and scientific results have been disseminated to standardization organizations (ISO, CEN), contributing to the harmonization of standards for hydrogen quality.

We work in these areas:

  • Technical design of charging infrastructure
  • Component stresses related to charging
  • Design and regulation of systems for contactless inductive energy conversion
  • Hydrogen production by electrolysis
  • Optimization of hydrogen production connected to the power grid or directly from, for example, wind power
  • Dimensioning and location of hydrogen production

Typical assignments for us are:

  • Research-based support for industrial development
  • Development of methodologies for the design and optimization of components and processes
  • Modeling and simulation of processes and energy conversion systems
  • Techno-economic analyses for decision support
  • Modeling technical solutions
  • Testing materials for compatibility with hydrogen
  • Lab testing of various stresses on electrical components

Who do we do this for?

  • Equipment suppliers
  • Grid companies
  • Transporters
  • Transport companies
  • Energy suppliers


Explore research areas

Contact persons