July 25, 2012

RTI International Joins Research Effort to Improve Fuel Storage in Natural Gas Vehicles

Highlights

  • RTI will join a team to develop an adsorbent material that will improve the performance and storage capabilities of adsorbed natural gas fuel tanks
  • The project is intended to provide a safer, simpler and more cost-effective method for storing natural gas in these vehicles
  • Texas A&M University, which received a $3 million grant, is leading the project
  • The project is part of a Department of Energy Grant

Media Contacts

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  • Lisa Bistreich-Wolfe
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  • Kami Spangenberg
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Fuel Storage Natural Gas Graphic
Automobile fuel storage of natural gas

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Engineers from RTI International will join others at Texas A&M University, General Motors and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop an innovative adsorbent material that will improve the performance and storage capabilities of adsorbed natural gas fuel tanks, particularly for light-duty passenger vehicles.

The project, part of a Department of Energy grant, is intended to provide a safer, simpler and more cost-effective method for storing natural gas in these vehicles.

Working with project partners, RTI researchers will help improve the commercial-readiness of these highly porous, high natural gas affinity materials for use in low-pressure natural gas fuel tanks. The materials will improve storage in the fuel tank by achieving high gas capacity, high energy density, and resistance to impurities typically present in natural gas fuel lines. As part of the project, RTI will develop cost-effective scale-up procedures and improve the packing density of the materials. They will also lead efforts to identify suitable cost-reduction pathways and clearly define technology-to-market strategies for the materials.

“The advanced porous materials being developed on this project have the potential to drive down the cost and improve the reliability of using natural gas in vehicles,” said Thomas Nelson, RTI’s project manager. "Increased use of natural gas in the transportation sector would result in significant economic and environmental benefits for the United States and lead to increased use of our nation’s large natural gas reserves. RTI’s expertise in materials synthesis, production scale-up, and technology commercialization will complement the capabilities of our distinguished team members, Texas A&M, GM, and LBNL. We are excited to be part of such a strong team.”

Texas A&M University, which received a $3 million grant, is leading the project. The project is one of 13 selected to share in a total of $30 million awarded through a new DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program known as Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy, or MOVE.

The program is intended to engineer light-weight, affordable natural gas tanks for vehicles and to develop natural gas compressors that can efficiently fuel a natural gas vehicle at home.

"These innovative projects will leverage the ingenuity of U.S. scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to develop breakthrough technologies to fuel cars with natural gas," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, who announced the award recipients. "These projects could transform America's energy infrastructure and economy by utilizing domestic energy sources to power our vehicles, reducing our reliance on imported oil and increasing American energy security."

ARPA-E was created in 2009 to seek out transformational, breakthrough technologies that are too risky for private-sector investment but have the potential to translate science into quantum leaps in energy technology, form the foundation for entirely new industries, and have large commercial impacts. RTI has also been working successfully with ARPA-E in the development of biofuels and cabon capture technologies.