Natural gas distribution utility Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has signed a contract with Onboard Dynamics Inc. (ObDI) to fund the demonstration and testing of a new mobile natural gas compressor that can be used to refuel compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles no matter where they are.
Made in the U.S., the mobile natural gas compressor is reported to reduce the need for CNG cars and trucks to travel to public CNG stations and, instead, brings clean-burning natural gas refueling to the vehicles.
“This mobile technology provides a cost-effective and convenient refueling solution for smaller CNG operators,” says Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions and communications for SoCalGas. “This, in turn, may lead to an accelerated adoption of CNG, which would contribute to improved air quality and a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions compared to petroleum-based fuels.”
Because there are fewer than 2,000 CNG refueling stations in the U.S., new technology, such as this mobile CNG compressor, could help to fuel smaller CNG fleets like school buses in a more cost-effective manner. The compressor will allow customers to refuel without driving to a retail refueling station or incurring the significant upfront investment of building a conventional CNG refueling station. Larger heavy-duty fleet operators who are considering converting to CNG vehicles may also find the compressor beneficial in the early phases of transitioning their fleets to alternative fuels.
Designed to be compact, affordable, simple to install and easily transportable, the mobile compressor will be powered by natural gas – unlike other technologies that require an external electric power source for operation. Thus, it can also act as a capacity boost for existing CNG compressor stations or as a reliable backup source during emergency events in which electrical generators are offline.
“We are excited to introduce a mobile compressor that effectively provides CNG refueling options without the need for electric power,” says Rita Hansen, CEO of ObDI. “Our technology can potentially reduce CNG production costs, increase efficiency, improve reliability and lower criteria emissions compared to previous engine-driven products.”
SoCalGas and ObDI will begin a demonstration project of the technology this summer with Mountain View School District in El Monte, Calif., and Antelope Valley Schools Transportation Agency in Lancaster, Calif.
SoCalGas says it has committed funds from its research, development and demonstration program for the demonstration of this project, and ObDI will be responsible for project management, system design, performance monitoring and on-site maintenance of the compressors.
Additional funding and support for the development of the compressor was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, ONAMI, Oregon BEST, Portland Seed Fund, NW Natural, and other utilities and private investors.