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Material Makes Natural Gas Storage Cheaper and Simpler

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CNG vehicleCommercial vehicles have yet to be introduced to ANG technology, simply because the physics involved severely limits the range capable of these vehicles.

However, Ford’s nearly 60,000 CNG’s sold since 2009 shows that we have to find a way to work with this technology; people are certainly interested. Finding a way to utilize this technology is necessary, not optional.

CNG is Compressed Natural Gas, which stores gas at around 250 atmosphere’s of pressure, which is an obstacle that researchers are trying to overcome. The team at U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy is working with Jeffrey Long, who is professor of Chemisty and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at University of California, Berkeley. Together, Long and his colleagues have worked to develop a solution designed on materials called metal organic frameworks.

This new technology would allow cars to store the same amount of gas at a much lower pressure. Because the natural gas, currently has to be stored at a much higher pressure, people have to keep bulky tanks for storage, in the vehicle. These have to be filled at fueling stations that are, currently, expensive to operate. The reason is that natural gas fueling is not as easy as diesel or gasoline fueling. The obstacle is finding the correct calculations needed to fuel different vehicles.

Introducing the ANG system: Absorbed Natural Gas system, which has a porous material that is absorbent, so it is capable of storing the gas molecules at a denser, lower pressure, 900psi and below. Because depressurization of the molecules happens in response to the demands of the vehicle’s engine, meaning the vehicle displacement has better use of space. The fueling infrastructure is roughly 40% less for most applications, meaning far less capital.

ANG vehicles have higher storage capabilities when made with this porous material. If Long and his team are able to design an ANG system that is fully capable of storing gases at 35 atmospheres, customers would have the option of fueling their vehicles at their homes, assuming they have natural gas. A simple compressor set-up makes driving to the gas station a thing of the past.

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