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Westport and Cryostar SAS Complete Agreement for LNG Tank Pump Technology

24 July 2006

Hpdi_layout
Layout of the HPDI LNG fuel system. The cryogenic pump is part of the tank module. Click to enlarge.

Westport Innovations and Cryostar SAS, a division of the BOC Group and a leader in cryogenic pump products, completed a License and Supply Agreement for the development, manufacture and supply of cryogenic liquid natural gas (LNG) fuel pumps, based on Westport’s cryogenic technology.

Westport will license its LNG pump technology on an exclusive basis to Cryostar for use in the heavy-duty automotive market, and has agreed to source any High-Pressure Direct-Injection (HPDI) LNG fuel pumps it requires for the heavy-duty automotive market from Cryostar. Cryostar will also have the right to manufacture and sell pumps incorporating Westport’s LNG pump technology to other customers.

The Westport LNG fuel pump and related systems is the only automotive LNG supply module available today, according to the company. The Cryostar HPDI pump module is fully integrated with vehicle computer control systems, and is capable of delivering up to 100 kg/hr of warm compressed natural gas to the engine at pressures up to 5,000 psi.

This agreement with Cryostar represents another important step in building a reliable and scalable supply chain to support large scale commercial deployment of our HPDI heavy duty LNG trucks. The off-engine LNG fuel system, consisting of the LNG fuel pump and LNG tank, is a critical component of the overall HPDI vehicle solution.

—Michael Gallagher, President & CEO of Westport

Last week, Westport and Beijing Tianhai Industry Co. formed a 50:50 owned, independent joint venture company—BTIC Westport (BWI)—to market liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel tanks for medium- and heavy-duty transportation applications. (Earlier post.)

July 24, 2006 in LNG, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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The LNG thing starts to make sense with this post. These LNG component companies seem to be aiming at the heavy-duty engine market. This makes me think they really are going for the transit operators, and perhaps truckers as well. Many transit fleets have already moved to CNG, and this is essentially a way to enlarge the fuel capacity on board each vehicle. One issue is that long distance truckers need a refueling infrastructure out in the field. It could be that any truckers they are marketing to are local-delivery fleets (FedEx/UPS style) and would have an operating pattern similar to that of mass transit -- single fueling depot and many centrally maintained vehicles putting on lots of daily miles.

I would say it would be FedX/UPS who are both doing hybrid vehicles. But truckers could get CNG/LNG anywhere the natural gas lines go. The beauty of not having to have large tanker trucks delivering it on the highway...it comes by pipe.

CNG vehicles can be refilled from pipe-distributed gas. However, it has to be properly collected and pressurized. Getting a network of vehicle-grade CNG filling stations build across the interstates of America would require some serious investment, but is entirely possible. Germany is working on just such a plan at the moment.

LNG cannot be delivered by pipeline, as it has to remain extremely cold. For American purposes, LNG is made at foreign chilling plants (located in countries that produce more NG than they need) and put aboard special insulated tanker boats which transport it to the US. Special terminal facilities exist at a few ports (including Boston), where the LNG is unloaded to a ground-based storage facility, and generally boiled off for shipment in gaseous form through the traditional pipeline. Sometimes, specially insulated tanker trucks or trains transport LNG from harbor terminals to inland points, but I am unaware of pipelines that can do this. Thus, LNG is *not* something you can get anywhere the pipes go. While it is of course possible to take gaseous CNG and chill it down to LNG, it is an energy intensive process, and only makes sense on large scales -- usually at export terminals of producing countries. It seems unlikely that chilling plants will go up across America to serve local fuel stations so trucks can tank up on LNG. They'll stick with diesel (similar energy density to LNG) for a long time.

Many mass transit operators have recently made significant investments in CNG buses -- and keep in mind the fact that most transit buses in America are intended to last 10-12 years. They sunk money into CNG because such vehicles are very clean from an air-quality standpoint, and do not cost much more than conventional buses -- hybrid buses can carry a premium of $200,000. These LNG systems seem to be built with standard CNG engines in mind: fuel is stored as liquid, but vaporized on the way out and delivered as gas to the engine. If this system could double the range of a city bus between fill-ups, it could save a lot of time and labor during the daily routine. Moreoever, you could probably even run a sort of air-conditioner during the summer off the coldness of the fuel. I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up as a retrofit option for mass transit buses.

You may be right that FedEx and UPS are more interested in hybrids at this point -- though there is nothing preventing them from hybridizing a CNG/LNG setup in the way that diesel setups are hybridized. However, I am not convinced that long-haul truckers, especially in the US, are an immediate market from these LNG devices. Long-haul truckers to not have a currently installed base of natural gas burning vehicles, or a large network of CNG filling stations. Even if they did, my current knowledge leads me to believe that there are significant hurdles to creating a widespread *LNG* refueling infrastructure, and I doubt that anyone would invest in an accessory which they could not take advantage of full-time.

I did not mean to imply that LNG could be delivered by pipeline, of course it can not be. I was refering to the fact that fueling stations could compress and chill and store it using natual gas. I would rather have them doing that than expanding all the refineries with even more capital than has already been invested in oil.

You make a fair point. Re-chilling is possible -- I'm just not sure what the energy balance/expense of it would be. And as you point out, getting away from oil is a worthy goal.

The energy needed to maintain the low temperature in LNG tank, where does it come from. Does it take from the NG fuel itself. And how much NG energy does it consume in 1 month. Any idea.

I read that LNG tankers run on the "boil off" from the LNG. They take about 5% per 1000 miles and even more when they get to the the end of the LNG train.

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