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ARPA-E Awards $30 Million for NGVs

July 13, 2012 in CNG, NGVs by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Nine of 13 MOVE Awards Are for Cheaper CNG Storage

The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding $30 million for 13 natural gas vehicles projects, nine of them aimed at getting around the physical laws that force storage of compressed natural gas in bulky, heavy, expensive and generally inconvenient fuel cylinders. The other four are for home CNG fueling.

updated with full contact information on July 20

The U.S. DoE would like to lower the cost premium for cars like American Honda’s 2012 Civic Natural Gas, which largely because of its costly carbon composite fuel tank is priced nearly $7,000 higher than a gasoline Civic. Honda photo shows the first of the 2012 vehicles coming off the line in Greensburg, Ind.

Entrepreneurs and firms including Ford, GE and United Technologies are getting MOVE awards ranging from $250,000 to $5.5 million.

MOVE stands for Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy, an initiative of ARPA-E, DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy.

DoE’s Daniel Poneman

“These innovative projects will leverage the ingenuity of U.S. scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to develop breakthrough technologies to fuel cars with natural gas,” deputy energy secretary Daniel Poneman said in a release.

Ideas range from an intestine-emulating CNG storage scheme to an engine that would not only power an NGV, but would compress the fuel for it, allowing drivers to fuel from “any natural gas line.”

“These projects could transform America’s energy infrastructure,” Poneman said.

The MOVE initiatives, DoE says, “build on President Obama’s call for a new era for American energy that benefits from the safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of U.S. natural gas resources, which has the potential to support more than 600,000 American jobs.”

DoE outlines the pending awards and proposed contract values as follows:

  • University of Texas at Austin, Center for Electromechanics — $4,300,000 for a Single-Piston Four-Stage Linear Home Natural Gas Compressor, an at-home natural gas fueling system that compresses gas with a single piston. Unlike current four-piston compressors, the highly integrated single-piston system will use fewer moving parts, leading to a more reliable, lighter, and cost effective compressor.
  • Colorado State University — $700,000 for an Engine-Integrated Natural Gas Compressor, a vehicle-based natural gas fueling system that will use the vehicle engine itself to compress natural gas. The engine will have the ability to both power the vehicle as well as compress natural gas for storage. Drivers will be able to connect their vehicle to any natural gas line for fast, convenient fueling.
  • Eaton – $3,400,000 for a Liquid-Piston Isothermal Home Natural Gas Compressor, an at-home natural gas fueling unit that will use a liquid, which acts as a piston, to compress natural gas. Eaton will engineer a heat-transfer material that controls the temperature during compression and improves efficiency. This liquid compression system will eliminate the need for costly high-pressure piston seals that are used in conventional gas compression.
  • Ford – $5,500,000 for an Adsorbed Natural Gas System for Vehicles, a natural gas storage tank that utilizes an innovative external framework and internal porous materials. The comprehensive design will lower pressure and cost while increasing the performance of the fuel system.
  • Gas Technology Institute – $1,500,000 for Engineered Adsorption Materials for Gas Storage, new porous materials for low-pressure gas storage tanks using a computational screening tool. This approach enables the rapid identification of low-cost, high-performance materials that will speed the development of low-pressure natural gas tanks for vehicles.
  • Gas Technology Institute – $875,000 for Nano-Valved Materials for a unique low- pressure natural gas storage tank for light-duty vehicles using a thin tailored shell to dramatically increase storage capacity while driving down cost. GTI’s innovative shell contains valves that can be opened and closed on demand to allow for vehicle fueling, driving, or storage.
  • General Electric Global Research – $1,800,000 for Chilled Natural Gas for At-Home Fueling, a design to chill, densify, and transfer CNG more efficiently to light-duty vehicles than conventional fueling systems. This fast-fueling design has very few moving parts, will operate quietly, and will be virtually maintenance-free.
  • OtherLab, Inc. (San Francisco) – $250,000 for a Safe, Conformal, Gas Intestine Storage, a high-pressure natural gas tank for light-duty vehicles using small diameter tubes tightly wound into a tank shape. Like human intestines, these small tubes will fit tightly into virtually any shape for efficient storage. Gas intestine storage tanks could be as light as today’s carbon fiber tanks at one fifth the cost.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – $600,000 for Superplastic-Formed Gas Storage Tanks, a low-cost, conformable natural gas tank for light-duty vehicles utilizing the same metal forming techniques used to fabricate high-strength cruise missile fins. This ultralight tank incorporates high-strength internal strut technology that efficiently fits into a vehicle.
  • REL, Inc. (Calumet, Mich.) $3,000,000 for Shape-Conformable Foam Core Gas Tanks, a low-cost, conformable fuel vessel for light-duty vehicles with an internal foam core. Unlike normal hollow pressure vessels that are cylindrical, this internal foam design will allow tanks to be formed into any shape. The foam core will enable higher storage capacity than current carbon fiber tanks at one third the cost.
  • SRI International – $875,000 for Container-less Natural Gas Storage using porous materials that enable low pressure storage at high energy densities. SRI’s unique approach using porous carbon materials will provide structural strength and high surface area for gas adsorption that will entirely eliminate the need for a costly external tank.
  • Texas A&M University – $3,000,000 for Advanced Porous Materials for Vehicular Natural Gas Storage using highly adsorbent materials for a low-pressure product. These low cost materials enable low-pressure natural gas to efficiently adhere to their engineered porous structures, storing gas at very high energy densities.
  • United Technologies Research Center – $4,400,000 for Low Cost Modular Natural Gas Tanks United Technologies Research Center will engineer a low-cost natural gas tank for light-duty vehicles using modular designs and low-cost construction materials, allowing tanks to be manufactured into shapes that easily fit into the tight spaces of light duty vehicles. This modular design will replace today’s bulky storage tanks in light duty vehicles at a lower cost and without sacrificing driving range.

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Source: U.S. DoE ARPA-E release, Fleets & Fuels follow-up



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