Brigham City company to make composite tanks for unmanned, underwater vehicles

April 6, 2013 - via Standard Examiner

BRIGHAM CITY - A Brigham City business has been awarded a one-year contract by the Naval Research Laboratory for the development and delivery of composite storage tanks for underwater, unmanned vehicles.

HyPerComp Engineering, established in 1996, was awarded the NRL contract based on its record in developing compressed natural gas and hydrogen tanks, said Daryl Thompson, HyPerComp Engineering business development manager.

The company designs and manufactures composite pressure vessels for commercial, aerospace and defense applications. The engineering firm has done some work for NASA in providing some "deep-space" high-pressure composite vessels, Thompson said. "We make composite pressure vessels," he said of the company at 1080 N. Main. The business currently employs six workers.

The current contract with NRL calls for tanks that must be capable of storing high-pressure hydrogen and oxygen in undersea conditions with adequate durability for extended submersion in seawater, said Ryan Noorda, HyPerComp Engineering program manager. "The tanks must be able to  withstand burst and crush pressure with a safety margin. The initial contract is for a 12-month period," he said.

Company officials declined to discuss the contract amount. There is financial compensation involved, Thompson assured, but officials are not to discuss it. "We can't do many things for free," he said.

The vessels being developed for the NRL will be part of a fuel tank system for an unmanned underwater submersible, and therefore the vessels must be able to withstand ocean pressure, Thompson said. There are internal and external pressures involved when containing gases, Thompson said. "It is a tricky vessel, but we can do it."

And should the design concept prove successful, it will provide HyPerComp Engineering the opportunity to expand its workforce. "If this is a good deal," Thompson said, "we'll be able to turn this development project into a production project." That would not be new to HyPerComp Engineering, which already has a production arm in Vexxel Composites, which employs about 30 workers, officials said.

Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife said he is familiar with the company, which has had success in the past in working with the defense industry. "This is just exciting that HyPerComp is able to continue and do some research for the military," he said. Fife said his hope is that the contract with NRL will allow the city to continue to diversify its job base in lieu of recent announcements of more job layoffs at ATK. "We are more diversified than we ever have been," Fife said of Brigham City.

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Author: Bryon Saxton