Efficient storage of hydrogen is critical to the success of transition markets for hydrogen energy. For these near-term niche markets, high pressure compressed gas storage in carbon fiber composite pressure vessels is currently the most advanced and promising technology. However, challenges remain to improve performance and reliability while still insuring the safety of these pressure vessels in service over periods of 15 to 20 years. In order to avoid overdesign and conservative use, a fundamental understanding of damage mechanisms and degradation of these materials is required to fully exploit the potential of these materials. Acoustic emission has thus been used to characterize damage accumulation and its kinetics under static and cyclic loading in carbon fiber composite samples and pressure vessels. These experimental results were complemented by finite element modeling taking into account the elastic nature of the fibers, coupled with the visco-elastic behavior of the matrix and debonding at the fiber matrix interface.

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