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Traditionally, gas tanks for personal uses such as cooking and heating have been made out of metal. Composites have recently entered this industry and have the potential to revolutionise a market that has been in decline for the past several years.
(Published on July 2006 – JEC Magazine #26)
Butagaz has rec ently launched a new gas tank for home use made out of composites. Called Viseo, the composite tank, designed for the French market, should prove to be considerably advantageous compared to the traditional tanks made out of metal.
This new application is a significant upgrade from the former metal model, and it could have large implications for a market that lost 5.1% of its buyers in 2004. Yet despite the losses, nearly 45 million gas tanks are refilled each year in France, meaning that even though the market is in decline, there is still a considerable number being purchased.
Putting it together
Viseo is made primarily of fibreglassreinforced vinylester composites. The sleek tank’s outer casting is made of mineral-reinforced polypropylene. The resins were manufactured by Ashland, and the fibreglass came from Owens Corning.
Project manager Jean-Francois Berdollt, said: “The gas cylinder is manufactured by Composite Scandinavia using resin transfer moulding (RTM), with a completely closed and automated system with high injection pressure and vacuum assistance. This is unique, since existing methods do not combine these. A patented winding pattern is used, enabling higher glass content than normal for RTM processes.”
Mr Berdollt said that these composites were chosen because they are the most compliant with Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders specifications, which include transparency, shock resistance, and pressure.
Lighter, safer, easier, cheaper
Viseo is 8.5 kilograms lighter than the traditional holder, which will make it significantly easier to carry and move around. It is also cheaper. The refill of the new cylinder should cost about €22.95, €2 cheaper than the traditional canister.
The application’s triple-valve security device that allows gas to pass through the canister makes it much safer to install and use. Furthermore, its fibreglass exterior allows the user to see the level of gas remaining in the chamber, something that was impossible with the traditional metal model.
57% wish they could see the level of gas remaining in their tank.
45% consider traditional tanks difficult to install .
53% feel that traditional tanks are too heavy and difficult to move around.
Butagaz is hoping that 600,000 of the 9.5 million users will switch to the Viseo by 2010. It was first released to consumers at the end of April 2006.