3M and Chesapeake Energy Corp. have signed an agreement to collaborate on the designing, manufacturing and marketing of a broad portfolio of compressed natural gas (CNG) tanks for use in all sectors of the U.S. transportation market.
Currently, the fuel tank on a CNG vehicle is its most expensive single component. According to 3M and Chesapeake Energy, the new CNG tanks developed as a result of their new partnership will reduce costs while increasing performance. Less-expensive tanks, in turn, will enable greater market adoption of CNG as an alternative automotive fuel source, the companies explain.
3M's CNG tank solution combines the company's proprietary liner advancements, thermoplastic materials, barrier films and coatings, and damage-resistant films. Using nanoparticle-enhanced resin technology, 3M Matrix Resin for Pressure Vessels, 3M says it will create CNG tanks that are 10% to 20% lighter with 10% to 20% greater capacity, all at a lower cost than standard vessels.
Chesapeake has pledged an initial $10 million toward design and certification services, market development support and a commitment to use the new tanks for its corporate fleet conversion to CNG.
The company's investment will be provided by Chesapeake NG Ventures Corp. (CNGV), established in 2011 to identify and invest in companies and technologies that will replace the use of gasoline and diesel derived primarily from foreign oil. CNGV has committed $1 billion over the next 10 years to help fund various initiatives to increase demand for natural gas, including investments totaling $300 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and privately held Sundrop Fuels Inc.
3M has engaged Utah-based Hypercomp Engineering Inc. for the design and certification of tanks. 3M will manufacture the tanks and focus its capital on all future operations and production. 3M expects these tanks to be available for sale beginning in the fourth quarter.