Eaton Corp. and the University of Minnesota are set to work on developing home-based refueling technology for natural gas vehicles, with a goal of rolling out a prototype that will retail for about one-tenth of what today's systems cost.
Supported by a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) initiative, the project will draw on Eaton's expertise in hydraulic component and systems design, as well as the company's background in the development and installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Eaton will collaborate with the university on thermodynamic analysis and modeling to ‘enable the efficient transfer of heat in the compression process.’
‘The refueling system will use liquid, which acts as a piston, to compress natural gas,’ the company says. ‘Innovative heat exchanger technology will improve efficiency and cut cost dramatically.’
Eaton expects that its prototype will be available before the end of 2015, with a target production price of $500.