United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) and Adsorbed Natural Gas Products Inc. (ANGP) have announced an exclusive licensing agreement allowing ANGP to use UTRC’s patent-pending technology to develop and produce the world’s first commercially viable, conformable, adsorbent-based low pressure natural gas (ANG) storage tank for motor vehicles.
The license applies to non-metal composite tanks containing activated carbon adsorbents at operating pressures of up to 1,000 psi.
“Natural gas is a much cleaner and lower-cost alternative to gasoline and diesel as a transportation fuel,” says Bob Bonelli, ANGP co-founder and CEO. “While it is making inroads as a vehicle fuel source in the U.S. – through transit buses and garbage trucks – making it a commercially feasible option for mass market application has been primarily hampered by the large, bulky cylinders required to house the highly pressurized fuel, which adds weight and leaves minimal useful storage space in a passenger car or light-duty truck.”
ANGP says it has addressed this barrier by using an adsorbent material (activated carbon) capable of storing large quantities of gas at a far lower pressure (<1,000 psi) than the 3,600 psi typically used for compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders.
“The lower pressure makes natural gas filling stations more cost-effective because the amount of compression required is much less than that required for conventional CNG tanks. This translates into smaller pumping equipment, resulting in lower capital and operating costs,” adds Bonelli. “When combined with UTRC’s innovative conformable tank design, the resultant product allows us to reduce weight, increase storage space and improve fuel efficiency.”
UTRC says it began developing its conformable CNG tank in 2012 under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program.
“UTRC’s objective under this program was to develop a conformable modular tank concept based on topology-optimized structures, and state-of-the-art materials and manufacturing technologies,” says Dr. David Parekh, corporate vice president and director of UTRC. “We are eager to transition our successful technology advancements under the MOVE program into a commercial product and anticipate working closely with ANGP in 2016 and beyond as it builds the market for ANG vehicles.”
“UTRC’s conformable tank provides 30 percent more storage capacity than multiple cylinders occupying the same envelope,” says Bonelli. “The design is ideal for lower-pressure ANG applications, enabling thinner tank walls and, therefore, lower material costs. With these benefits, ANGP looks forward to achieving the industry’s goal of mass market acceptance with its total system solution for natural gas as an automotive fuel.”