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Westport Innovations and Beijing Tianhai Industry Co. Form LNG Tank Joint Venture

BWI LNG tank.

Westport Innovations and Beijing Tianhai Industry Co. have 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.)

BWI combines BTIC’s world-class cryogenic manufacturing expertise with Westport’s LNG tank and natural gas vehicle experience. The LNG tanks will be designed by Westport, and produced in BTIC’s new Beijing cryogenic facility.

The joint venture will sell tanks for installation on any vehicle, regardless of the natural gas engine manufacturer. (Westport is a supplier of natural gas engines and fuel systems.) BTIC and Westport will share equally in the profits on products developed and sold by the JV.

LNG is fast becoming an essential solution to global energy requirements and its use as a vehicle fuel is only just beginning. With the opening of the first LNG terminal in China last month, it is appropriate that our first JV in China will focus on delivering the world’s first LNG tank specifically developed for vehicle use.

—David Demers, CEO of Westport

LNG is a purified natural gas that has been condensed into a liquid at atmospheric pressure by cooling it to approximately -160º C (-256º F). It provides two-and-a-half times the energy storage as the same volume of compressed natural gas (CNG), which allows for a longer driving range.

Cross-section through a double-walled LNG tank with integrated pump.

On-board a vehicle, the liquefied gas must be stored at that low temperature in a low heat-leak tank with an integrated LNG pump. Westport has been developing on-board LNG storage systems for a number of years.

BTIC is the largest industrial gas, firefighting and CNG cylinder manufacturer in Asia, with output of more than 1.5 million units annually in facilities in Beijing and Tianjin. BTIC has also become the dominant supplier of CNG products in China with customers including Volkswagen, Citroën, Suzuki, Ford, and Volvo.


Max Reid

"two-and-a-half times the energy"

So if a Honda-Civic can run 200 miles with a CNG tank, then if fitted with a LNG can run 500 miles.

Is that correct. That would be awesome.


?? Why go thru the problem of cryogenic when propane liquefies without cryogenic?

Max Reid

"propane option"

Methane used in CNG/LNG is available in plenty, but propane comes only from Crude Oil and that too in small quantities and that why its usage is restricted.

If LNG transport increases, there may be more CNG/LNG powered vehicles in the World, currently there are 5 million CNG vehicles.


Where would you tank up with one of these monsters? LNG terminals exist only at major ports, and they boil up their LNG into gaseous form before before distributing it through the traditional pipeline infrastructure. In fact, proposals for new LNG import facilities in the US sometimes involve putting the LNG sphere a few miles offshore and piping in only pre-vaporized gas, as a safety precaution. LNG is sometimes distributed by truck in insulated containers to regional NG facilities, but there are hardly LNG stations at every corner, and I cannot imagine the expense involved in building them. Re-liquifying NG at remote locations sounds energy intensive and kind of pointless.

Another problem is boil-off. If you fill up your car and then leave it in your garage for a week, heat will infiltrate even a well-insulated tank and encourage the NG to boil into gas. That will increase pressue on the tank walls to a dangerous extent. The tank will have to vent the gas somehow, which means either venting raw NG into the air, which is a safety hazard of untold proportions, or burning it off in a controlled flare, which is safe(r) but wasteful.

The only context in which vehicle-sized LNG tanks make sense are public transit operators. They use a lot of fuel, have a small number of fueling depots, drive predictably and daily, and have trained staff on hand to offload unused fuel in case of emergency.

This past May, a tanker truck carrying LNG overturned on the Massachusetts Turnpike a few miles west of Boston. The danger posed by a potential leak was considered so great that they had to close the entire highway *in both directions* ten miles on either side of the wreck for a ten hour period. The 'both directions' element was the unusual part, in that previous tanker accidents I've encountered usually only close the side of the road where the tanker was driving. At any rate, the traffic tie-up created by that mess was simply stunning. I was on a bus, riding from Hartford to Boston, and what is ordinarily a two hour trip turned into a seven hour one. So that's how I feel about taking LNG onto the road.


Many gas stations carry CNG and there is no reason they could not carry LNG. The real deal is using Stirlings to cool and compress. You could fuel your car in your garage much like the Civic CNG, but there would be two tanks with a Stirling cryo in your car, one tank CNG and the other LNG.


LPG, as name implies, is by-product of oil refining, comprising mostly of propane, to less degree of butane, with some ethane and higher then butane hydrocarbons. Simply put, it is gaseous fraction which could be liquefied at elevated pressure at normal temperature. However, most of LPG currently is derived from NG exploration. NG contain couple of percent (widely varies from one field to another), which should be separated at well-head before entering high-pressure gas pipeline, other vice it will liquefies on route and plug the pipeline. Also some LPG gas is recovered from oil wells as part of oil co-gases.

LPG represents premium heating fuel, as it is easy to transport, easy to handle in boilers and stoves, and its combustion is very clean even on most primitive equipment. There is hardly surplus of LPG to be used as transportation fuel on large scale. However, in some locations, where it is plentiful, it is premium, relatively cheap, clean burning high octane fuel and is used quite extensively (once again, in some locations).

Liquefaction of NG is extremely energy consuming and wasteful. Currently LNG transportation from remote gas fields is booming industry. The reason is that pipeline NG distribution system could not keep up with ever increasing demand for NG, and LNG is currently only economically viable option to bring NG from remote gas fields to the consumer. On the arrival to coastal port, most of LNG is re-evaporated by heat exchange with sea water, and pumped into existed CNG pipeline system. Currently huge LNG project is in final approval stage to bring LNG from Russian Barents sea off-shore platforms to US East Coast customers. Many other projects around the world are under way.

Personally I consider LNG transportation as waste of valuable resource and strongly favor gas-to-liquid technology, such as huge Sasol plant in Bahrain.

You are absolutely right. LNG tank have substantial boil-off, and the smaller the tank the higher boil-off is necessary to keep remaining NG in liquid state. Huge LNG tankers use boil-off of their cargo as supplementary fuel to their dual fuel diesel engines, or even repowering ships with steam turbines, or to drive refrigerators to return at least some portion of boil-off gases back into cryogenic tank.
For private transportation LNG is absolutely unacceptable due to mentioned safety hazard and waste of LNG while vehicle is not in operation.

The only niche I see for LNG fueled vehicles is for port serving equipment (and it is huge market), limited to the ports already receiving LNG bulk.

Max Reid

Thanks guys

I dont think LNG will be used for private vehicles, but ideal for rest of the transport which means Ships, Trains, Trucks & Buses and all these vehicles sometimes run 16-24 hours / day.

As for Methane / Propane equation, every year 2,300 million tons Oil Equivalent of Natural Gas (Methane) is produced, but Propane is much smaller by volume.

As for Gas to Liquids, its still expensive than CNG/LNG option and involves more wastage.

Anyway, the CNG as vehicular fuel continues to increase with 3 countries having 1 million + vehicles with another 4 countries having 100,000 + vehicles.

Another news is LNG carrying tanker ships are increasing rapidly, some of them use the same fuel for powering the ship as well.

We will know everything in few years as which 1 picks up.


There is no reason you could not use it for cars. With an onboard cryo and hybrid battery capacity, you could keep it cool for quite some time.

Max Reid

LNG for cars.

May be ideal for taxi's which do 200 miles a day or for race cars which travel similar distance.

John Baldwin

The really great opportunity for LNG arises as a result of the exponential growth in LNG world trade. Qatar has about 100 years worth of has no pipeline option, so it liquefies it, making LNG. That LNG is transported to US or Europe with minimal losses in terms of energy. The LNG is then transferred to storage facilities onshore. Normally the LNG is heated and converted back into natural gas for distribution. However, if it goes straight into vehicles as LNG fuel (converted back to gaseous to natural gas just as it enters the engione of course) then the 'Well to Wheel' efficiency is fantastic, cannot be beaten by any other fossil fuel. Further, if you compare this to 'gas to liquids' it becomes clearly the winner - about 30 - 40% net energy required, which is 30 - 40% less CO2 produced.

The UK has a national network of LNG filling stations already - see

Two UK companies (Clean Air Power Ltd and Hardstaff Group) are now taking 400 hp trucks (Daf, Mercedes and Volvo) and converting them into diesel - natural gas dual fuel (CNG or LNG). This gives around 25% less CO2 than 100% diesel and less NOX and particulates....great idea that is catching on as oil gets more expensive.

Final point - a UK company makes LNG from landfill waste gas. To clean up the landfill gas you end up with an LNG product - run your buses and refuse lorries on this and it has a NEGATIVE impact on greenhouse gas emissions as the landfil gas has a use and is not vented or flared. As energy becomes more expensive, LNG will come into its own.


I applause you for bringing new themes to the forum. I am fanatic fan of dual-fuel diesel-NG engines. Let me explain to others:
If you inject gaseous fuel to be perfectly mixed with intake air (unfortunately gasoline could not achieve this, and propane is hard, but possible), you can feed high-compression diesel engine with air/fuel mix below detonation, but over lower combustion limit. It could be ignited by spark (it is troublesome at varying loads), but you can ignite it with injection of small portion of diesel fuel near TDC. The difference is like igniting fire with a match and grenade. For at least 40 years ignition of lean NG fuel was successfully facilitated by diesel fuel injection at stationary diesel gensets. It is well-established technology. Some can argue that two fuels is excessive burden to carry, but I see it as advantage. This kind of engine could operate (and modern common rail diesel injection makes it a breeze) at 100% diesel, or 95% NG and 5% diesel, and anything in between. Thermal efficiency is same as for diesel engine. Moreover, such conversion automatically raises by 20% engine max torque/power if NG is used. Tripled oil change intervals and halved engine wear are additional bonuses. And the most interesting point: because fuel charge is perfectly diluted, (it is usually 5% NG by volume and lambda more then 2.5), generation of NOx is wastly suppressed. NG, as being one carbon atom fuel, does not produce soot at this conditions. I am ecstatic to hear that GB companies making a move to this technology.

I do believe that hybrid drivetrain with at least supercaps will benefit greatly to economy of stop-and-go refuse trucks. Hard to believe, but in US/Canada it is way more refuse trucks then city transit buses. I also do have my doubts about economy of LNG vs. NG-to-liquid energy balance. But any way, John, great news.

Thomas Pedersen

I tend to agree with John Baldwin. Just because USA currently has only one option - gasoline - that does not necessarily apply to the rest of the world. Chine more or less has to build a new infrastructure from scratch and is thus not limited by what is already in place. And let us not forget that this post did in fact concern the Chinese market.

For the rest of the world, LNG for busses, trucks and trains that do not use tens of thousands of refueling stations would ease the pressure on oil derived fuels for transport.


In California, many commute 100 miles a day. If you could have 200 mile range and a full tank every morning, that might be real popular.


In US North West and in Canada West there is wide LPG and CNG refueling infrastructure in place. Yet, very few private motorists use LPG and CNG. Considering substantial fuel and maintenance saving costs, I find it quite strange. Probably cars manufacturers to blame for not supplying CNG and LNG fueled vehicles at reasonable cost. Most private vehicles using propane and NG are driving after marked conversions, which are expensive. Really odd situation.


People tend to go with what IS. If there are no CNG vehicles in the showrooms, they buy gasoline vehicles. The car makers will not make CNG cars because no one asks for them. Since no one asks for them, they do not think that they can recover their investment in designing and developing CNG cars. Catch 22.
I have thought that deisel cars would not be available if it were not for deisel trucks having to have fuel. If the fuel is not available, the cars can not run. The control of fueling stations by the oil companies will restrict the availability of E85...and so it goes.

Max Reid

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 envision that the cryo would be powered by the hybrid batteries. With a well insulated tank, 2kwh worth of batteries could keep it cold for a week. If the car needs to start for 5 minutes to charge the batteries the on board computer could do that.


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Younus Ali Khan

We are lloking for the supplier of CNG tank/cylinder to be used for conversion of car from petrol driven to CNG driven. Cylinder would be 60,75 and 90 wl capacity.

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