July 19, 2012
By Dorothy Davis
With natural gas prices hitting decade-low prices earlier this year, General Electric (NYSE: GE), in partnership with Chart Industries and scientists at the University of Missouri, announced plans to develop a system for rapidly refueling natural gas-powered cars in the home.
GE plans to develop a system that will attach to domestic natural gas lines to compress gas and refuel a tank in less than an hour. Ideally, the device would ultimately cost no more than $500, or around one-tenth of the price of current technology.
“The goal of our project is to design an at-home refueling station that is much simpler in design, more cost effective and reduces re-fueling times to under an hour. By reducing the time and cost of re-fueling, we can break down the barriers that are preventing more widespread adoption of NG (Natural Gas) vehicles" said Anna Lis Laursen, project leader and chemical engineer at GE Global Research. "If we can meet our cost targets, the price of a home refueling station would be less than typical appliances in the home such as a dishwasher or stove.”
Total cost of program will be approximately $2.3 million, which will be shared by GE and the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) . Researchers from GE will focus on overall system design integration, while it's partners Chart Industries and University of Missouri will address the detailed engineering, cost and manufacturability of the key system components.
Consumers have been slow to adopt alternative energy vehicles, in large part because the country already boasts extensive infrastructure to support gasoline-powered vehicles. However, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that the amount of natural gas fuel being consumed by highway-rated vehicles rose from 86.5 million gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2000 to nearly 200 million gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2009.
In line with its goals to accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel, GE has also recently introduced its CNG In A Box™ technology, which takes natural gas from a pipeline and compresses it on-site at an industrial location or a traditional automotive refilling station.