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Critical Lozenge: the CNG Cylinder

November 27, 2013 in CNG, NGVs2013Atlanta by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Old Players and New Ones at North America NGV Show in Atlanta

The ball-and-chain of the compressed natural gas vehicles movement, the costly but clumsy, heavy but indispensable CNG fuel cylinder, was evident in all its glory at NGVs2013Atlanta, last week’s North American Natural Gas Vehicle Conference and Expo, with new materials, players and packaging methodologies all on display.

BASF's MOF's were employed in the Quantum Type IV CNG cylinders on this Kenworth T440, with saddle-mounted fuel tank assemblies by Trilogy ES, shown by MHC Kenworth at NGVs2013Atlanta.

BASF’s MOF’s were employed in the Quantum Type IV CNG cylinders on this Kenworth T440, with saddle-mounted fuel tank assemblies by Trilogy ES, shown by MHC Kenworth at NGVs2013Atlanta.

Technologies aimed at minimizing the penalty that basic physics imposes on natural gas as a vehicle fuel ranged from adsorbed natural gas materials from BASF to new imports of cost-competitive and reasonably lightweight, billet-based Type I steel cylinders manufactured by Vitkovice Cylinders of the Czech Republic.

At least two companies affirmed plans to manufacture their Type IV all-composite CNG cylinders for the first time in the U.S., in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

3M showed off its growing family of Type IV all-composite CNG cylinders

3M showed off its growing family of Type IV all-composite CNG cylinders

3M – 3M showed off its growing line of Type IV cylinders manufactured with a proprietary nano-silica resin material that is said to better translate the strength properties of carbon fiber, allowing less of the costly material to be used. 3M promoted 21.5-, 18.5- and new 26-inch-diameter CNG cylinders, which will be able to hold up to 42.4 diesel gallon equivalents for heavy duty trucks.

Agility Fuel Systems – Agility doesn’t manufacture CNG tanks, but it’s the leading producer of CNG tank assemblies, supplying kits to both bus and truck manufacturers as well as doing its own installations. A new aerodynamic rig with three 26-inch diameter Type IV CNG cylinders by Hexagon Lincoln was displayed by Freightliner on a CNG-powered Cascadia tractor for Florida’s Saddle Creek.

The stout thick Hexagon cylinders allow for shorter cylinder lengths, meaning the three-cylinder back-of-cab fuel assembly can hold 120 diesel gallon equivalents without protruding beyond the width of the cab – significantly improving vehicle aerodynamics and hence fuel economy.

Note that Agility's back-of-cab CNG cylinder array does not extend wider than the Freightliner Cascadia tractor's aerodynamic fairing.

Note that Agility’s back-of-cab CNG cylinder array does not extend wider than the Freightliner Cascadia tractor’s aerodynamic fairing.

Agility Fuel Systems president and CTO Ron Eickelman was named NGVAmerica chairman in Atlanta.

BASF – Global chemical giant BASF promoted its metal organic frameworks technology for adsorbed natural gas. BASF’s MOFs allow more gas to be stored in a given volume CNG tank, or could allow a similar quantity of gas using lower pressure.

“The large surface area and high porosity of MOFs enable them to hold large quantities of compressed gas without increased pressure,” the company says. “Vehicles may be equipped with fewer tanks to achieve a desired range.”

“We have made great progress in advancing our MOF technology from the laboratory to the pilot testing phase and we continue to work closely with a number of transportation industry counterparts to validate this technology in real-world applications, with a particular focus on fleet vehicle applications,” BASF global energy storage director Joseph Lynch said in a release for NGVs2013Atlanta. “Once our extensive testing and validation efforts are complete, we intend to bring our MOF materials to market for use in both light and heavy duty vehicles over the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.

A Quantum Technologies CNG tank utilizing the BASF technology (in a Trilogy Engineered Systems saddle-mount) was shown on a Class 7 Kenworth T440 by the Atlanta branch of MHC Kenworth. The demonstration truck is also equipped with a BASF natural gas emissions catalyst.

CNG Cylinders International – CNGci reiterated its claim to having the world’s largest Type III compressed natural gas fuel cylinders, which can be filled faster than competing Type IV tanks. CNGci’s line of 23-inch cylinders was augmented this year with a 25-inch product.

CNGci is also the sole distributor of lightweight Type I CNG tanks from Vitkovice Cylinders of the Czech Republic. The economical Vitkovice tanks are made from steel billet, considerably reducing weight, CNGci says.

An aerospace-grade Type III CNG cylinder by Cobham

An aerospace-grade Type III CNG cylinder by Cobham

Cobham – Cobham continues to apply its experience in pressure vessels for aerospace and life support to the CNG sector, reporting in Atlanta that it’s close to certification of three different sizes of 15.9-inch-diameter Type III cylinders, and that a 21.5-inch-diameter all-composite Type IV is to hit the market in late 2014.

CP Industries – CPI, a unit of Everest Kanto, a large-scale supplier of Type I CNG cylinders made in India and Dubai, is commencing manufacture of Type IV cylinders in Pittsburgh.

Fiba – Massachusetts’ Fiba Technologies said that its new Type IV all-composite CNG cylinders are in the process of certification. The Fiba tanks are manufactured with towpreg (carbon fiber that’s pre-impregnated with epoxy resin) for improved resin content, reduced weight and superior process control, the company says.

Fiba also has extensive experience with Type I CNG cylinders, and with high-pressure Type II steel hoop-wrapped units for hydrogen transportation and storage.

Hexagon Lincoln's new Tuffshell Ground Storage module

Hexagon Lincoln’s new Tuffshell Ground Storage module

Hexagon Lincoln – Hexagon Lincoln celebrated 50 years in business and 20 years of supplying lightweight all-composite Type IV CNG fuel cylinders – the Tuffshell – in Atlanta. Hexagon Lincoln was a platinum sponsor of the North American NGV Conference and Expo, and hosted a lush reception on Tuesday evening last week.

Also at NGVs2013Atlanta, Hexagon disclosed an agreement with OMB Saleri to use a new, “Miami” brand solenoid valve to help boost fill times of its Type IV all-composite cylinders. And, Hexagon introduced a stationary storage module using a 26.7-inch-diameter Tuffshell compressed natural gas cylinder. “This lightweight container makes it easy to move, stack and store natural gas at your filling station,” the manufacturer said.

Hexagon reported this past spring that it is doubling the size of its plant in Lincoln, Neb. – again (F&F, June 3).

For nearly ten years Hexagon Lincoln (until early this year Lincoln Composites) has been a unit of Norway’s Hexagon Composites. Hexagon Composites president and CEO Jon Erik Engeset was on hand for the Atlanta meeting.

Iljin's display at NGVs2013Atlanta

Iljin’s display at NGVs2013Atlanta

Iljin – Korea’s Iljin Composites reported NGV2, ISO and ECE-R110 certifications for its line of Type IV all-composite CNG cylinders, with sizes ranging from 66 to 354 water liters. Iljin claims “a new technology, the world-first liner employing high molecule nano technology.”

Iljin also promoted tube skids for CNG transport and storage, as well as all-composite pressure vessels for hydrogen.

Luxfer – Luxfer exhibited at NGVs2013Atlanta as a considerably larger company, having last year acquired Calgary- and Germany-based Dynetek Industries, likewise a specialist in lightweight Type III carbon fiber-on-aluminum CNG cylinders, tradenamed Dynecell. Luxfer earlier this year introduced an expanded line of tanks under the G-Stor Pro brandname, and disclosed a joint venture with San Francisco-based GTM Technologies whereby Luxfer will supply Type III cylinders to be used in modules for transporting and storing compressed gases.

Luxfer continues work on a new Type IV product too.

PST Cylinders – The Milwaukee company once known as Pressed Steel Tank continues to promote economical steel CNG cylinders, spreading the word at NGVs2013Atlanta that it’s the exclusive distributor for Type I and Type II tanks from Rio de Janeiro-based MAT.

PST Cylinders also handles Type II cylinders from Virginia’s WireTough. The WireTough tanks feature an unusual wire mesh as their outer reinforcement (F&F, June 5, 2012), and are said to offer better than 5% more interior volume for the same length and diameter as Type II and Type IV tanks.

Trunk-mounted Type III CNG tank by Worthington-SCI. Installation provides more than 200 miles of natural gas range, Impco says, while allowing for nearly 7 cubic feet of storage space.

Trunk-mounted Type III CNG tank by Worthington-SCI. Installation provides more than 200 miles of natural gas range, Impco says, while allowing for nearly 7 cubic feet of storage space.

Worthington Cylinders (SCI) – The former Structural Composites Industries caught eyes at NGVs2013Atlanta with a display including toroidal tanks for propane manufactured by the firm’s subsidiary in Poland – which also makes lightweight CNG cylinders. Worthington also holds a majority stake in India’s Nitin.

A Worthington Type III cylinder will be used for the new Chevrolet Cruze bi-fuel CNG-gasoline sedan, and the company continues to supply its aerospace-quality fuel tanks for Honda’s Civic Natural Gas the only OEM-completed natural gas vehicle made in America.

Xperion – Germany-based Xperion Energy & Environment exhibited at NGVs2013Atlanta flush on the news that it’s broken ground on its first U.S. manufacturing plant, a 50,000-square-foot facility in Heath, outside Columbus, Ohio.

Xperion also reported this month that three China-based bus OEMs will use its X-Store brand Type IV CNG cylinders for 600 vehicles for Indonesia’s TransJakarta-Jakarta Busways.

Zoltek – St. Louis-based Zoltek promoted Panex brand towpreg for manufacturing lightweight CNG cylinders, stating that the pre-impregnated carbon fiber tape can improve quality control and, because less winding is necessary, speed manufacturing times. Zoltek also offers winding machines from Entec, a subsidiary in Salt Lake City.

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Source: Fleets & Fuels at NGVs2013 in Atlanta 

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