CSU gets Energy Department research grant for vehicle-based natural gas compressor

The U.S. Department of Energy announced July 12 that 13 new cutting-edge research projects will receive a total of $30 million to find new ways of harnessing America’s abundant natural gas supplies for cars and trucks and expand the use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel.

Through its Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E), the Department’s new program, titled Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy — or “MOVE” — aims to engineer light-weight, affordable natural gas tanks for vehicles and develop natural gas compressors that can efficiently fuel a natural gas vehicle at home.

Colorado State University will receive $700,000 to develop a vehicle-based natural gas refueling system that will use the vehicle engine itself to compress natural gas. The engine will have the ability to both power the vehicle as well as compress natural gas for storage. Drivers will be able to connect their vehicle to any natural gas line for fast, convenient refueling.

Today’s natural gas vehicle technologies require tanks that can withstand high pressures, are often cumbersome, and are either too large or too expensive to be suitable for smaller passenger vehicles. ARPA-E’s new projects are focused on removing these barriers, which will help encourage the widespread use of natural gas cars and trucks. The projects will also focus on developing natural gas compressors that make it easier for consumers to re-fuel at home.

The investments announced today build on efforts underway through the Clean Cities program and National Clean Fleets Partnership to help large fleet operators in the country, such as large companies, cities, and states, identify opportunities to transition to natural gas vehicles. Many commercial fleet operators nationwide have already begun to transition long-haul trucks and other commercial vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The advances achieved under this latest set of research and development awards will help expand the use of natural gas vehicles, so that consumers nationwide can benefit.

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