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Removing Technical Barriers to Refueling NGVs at Home

Removing Technical Barriers to Refueling NGVs at Home

09/25/12 Des Plaines, IL

Gas Technology Institute (GTI), a leading research and development organization serving energy and environmental markets, will partner with the Center for Electromechanics at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-CEM) to engineer new ways to refuel natural gas cars at home, making it easier and more affordable for consumers to own natural gas vehicles.

More than $4 million in funding was granted to develop a cost-effective compressor for at-home natural gas vehicle refueling systems. The economic and environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are being increasingly recognized, but the limited driving ranges of NGVs coupled with the lack of readily-accessible fueling stations are preventing more widespread adoption of this transportation technology.

Responding to the need to make NGV ownership more economically attractive to the public, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), is funding this cutting-edge project. It is part of DOE’s new program, titled Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE).

The team will develop a compressor that will use fewer moving parts, leading to a more reliable, lighter, and cost-effective at-home natural gas refueling system. The goal is to replace current technology, which comprises multiple pistons and cylinders, with a single cylinder and piston moving through a linear motor.

ARPA-E has set aggressive performance and cost targets for the development. Current home refueling appliances cost approximately $4,000, while this new technology is targeted to provide a $500 compressor, resulting in a refueling appliance for less than $2,000.

Researchers will also work with Argonne National Laboratory to identify and apply a cost-effective surface coating for the inside wall of the cylinder. "With their help, we look to identify a coating system that will extend the longevity of our one moving part—the component most susceptible to wear and maintenance," says Tony Lindsay, GTI RD&D Director, who will oversee the project.

Beyond this project, GTI research teams are working on several fronts to lower the costs of adoption of NGVs and NGV fueling infrastructure, particularly the first-cost entry into using NGVs. New technologies under development will support next-generation vehicles and engines, and GTI experts have been significantly involved in testing and development of new NGV components and systems. Researchers have played a key role in development and deployment of NGV fueling stations and managing new technology demonstrations, and have helped develop a vehicle refueling and dispensing systems for commercial use.

Many of GTI's technical advancements have helped solidify the NGV market, including improvements in composite materials and high-strength metal alloys for lighter-weight, on-board cylinders to store compressed gas. Two other ARPA-E contracts totaling nearly $2.4 million were recently awarded to GTI for adsorbed natural gas (ANG) technologies to be used in light-duty vehicle storage tanks. The ARPA-E grants are very selective and designed to fund highly transformative technologies, and GTI was recipient of 3 of the 13 awarded.

About Gas Technology Institute (GTI)
GTI is a leading research, development and training organization that has been addressing the nation's energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 70 years.

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