What is considered the most costly part of the compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fueling system — fuel tanks — experienced some technology breakthroughs from two U.S.companies recently.
Southern California-based fueling system manufacturer Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc. has patented a new storage system for CNG vehicles. And more recently Minnesota-based 3M Corp. announced it has gained natural gas vehicle (NGV) certification for its first CNG tank, which it is touting as lighter and more cost effective.
Unveiled Tuesday, 3M officials said the company has combined improvements in both geometries and its proprietary 3M Matrix Resin, featuring “nanosilica technology to deliver a solution that is lighter, offers greater capacity and is more cost effective than similar tanks.” It is part of a collaboration between 3M and Chesapeake Energy Corp. announced last year (see Daily GPI, Feb. 22, 2012).
3M’s Mike Roman, vice president in the company’s industrial adhesive and tapes division, said 3M is “enthusiastic” about the future of NGVs and thinks its new tank can help expand the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Initially the tanks will be available through five NGV upfitters around the country.
Quantum received a patent on its lighter fueling/storage system for CNG vehicles, adding to the Lake Forest, CA, company’s portfolio of NGV fuel storage and system technologies, alternative fuel vehicles and advanced vehicle propulsion systems.
Late last year Quantum officials said the company would expand products to make assemblies for the tanks as well, promising “a dramatic weight reduction and increased storage capacity” (see Daily GPI, Dec. 24, 2012). Quantum since has received a patent for the system.
The product, a bi-directional fuel system, is made up of a fuel storage tank, a regulator and a check valve between the storage and the fill line. The check valve is configured to allow flow into the storage tank; a distal pressure delayer has an inlet connected to the fill line and an outlet is connected to the tank valve.
“The innovative pressure delayer provides important safety features to protect the various components during rapid natural gas refueling and consumption conditions,” Quantum said. The system uses “Q-Lite” storage tanks that the company said are “ultra-lightweight.”
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