3M and Chesapeake Energy Corporation partner to develop and market new CNG tank technology for natural gas vehicles
21 February 2012
3M and Chesapeake Energy Corporation will collaborate in designing, manufacturing and marketing a broad portfolio of compressed natural gas (CNG) tanks for use in all sectors of the United States transportation market. Currently the fuel tank on a CNG vehicle is its most expensive single component, according to the partners. The new CNG tanks developed through the 3M and Chesapeake partnership are intended to reduce costs while increasing performance. Less expensive tanks will enable greater market adoption of CNG as an alternative automotive fuel source, according to the partners.
3M’s CNG tank solution combines the company’s proprietary liner advancements, thermoplastic materials, barrier films and coatings, and damage-resistant films. Using nanoparticle-enhanced resin technology, 3M Matrix Resin for Pressure Vessels, 3M says it will create CNG tanks that are 10 to 20% lighter with 10 to 20% greater capacity, all at a lower cost than standard vessels. In addition to these benefits, 3M says its technology produces safer and more durable tanks than those currently on the market.
3M says that its resins inherently have much higher modulus and fracture toughness than conventional epoxy resins. These properties provide improved fiber delivered strength and fiber translation, burst pressure after impact damage, and cycle life in composite overwarp pressure vessels (COPVs).
3M believes in the potential of natural gas, and this agreement illustrates our commitment to the industry. We are excited about this collaboration to speed the development and adoption of natural gas-powered vehicles.—George Buckley, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of 3M
Chesapeake has pledged an initial $10 million toward design and certification services, market development support and a commitment to use the new tanks for its corporate fleet conversion to CNG. The company’s investment will be provided by Chesapeake NG Ventures Corporation (CNGV), established in 2011 to identify and invest in companies and technologies that will replace the use of gasoline and diesel derived primarily from foreign oil. CNGV has committed $1 billion over the next 10 years to help fund various initiatives to increase demand for natural gas, including investments totaling $300 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and privately-held Sundrop Fuels, Inc.
3M has engaged Hypercomp Engineering, Inc. of Utah for the design and certification of tanks. 3M will manufacture the tanks and focus its capital on all future operations and production. 3M expects these tanks to be available for sale during the fourth quarter of 2012.
Im interrested to buy. Someone smart have to sell nat gas convertion and fueling for a regular ice car while we keep the gasoline tank so it become a bi-fuel natural gas + gasoline car.
Posted by: A D | 21 February 2012 at 08:18 AM
I just wish that natural gas didn't have to be in pressurized tanks. These will basically be bombs on the road - lots of opportunities for lawyers to get involved after the first fatalities from accidents & explosions with collateral damage occur.
Posted by: ejj | 21 February 2012 at 09:16 AM
LNG tanks would be more like bombs on the road. CNG I'm not too worried about. What we should all be most concerned about is making huge investments into infrastructure for a resource that isn't as abundant as shale gas co's such as Chesapeake portray. IMO, we have closer to 30 years of gas, not 100.
Posted by: GreenPlease | 21 February 2012 at 09:48 AM
It is hard to accurately gauge how much natural gas the U.S. has left at present consumption. All I know is the present wholesale price is below 30 cents per therm, which is slightly less than the energy in one gallon of gasoline.
So if we want to clean the air, reduce costs and reduce oil imports, natural gas for trucks is one good way to do that. Long haul and delivery trucks use LOTS of fuel every day. If we can get them on natural gas, we save them lots of money, reduce oil imports and clean the air with ONE move.
Posted by: SJC | 21 February 2012 at 10:10 AM
I agree, GP, estimates are that we have 20 to 100 years of natural gas based on 2010 usage rates. And that 100 year estimate is highly questioned.
We are now building lots of NG plants to generate electricity. We're getting ready to export NG to other countries. And we're looking a NG to replace gasoline.
How soon do we add enough new consumption to cut supply lifetime in half (10 to 50 years)? And what if the 20 year folks have the best handle on supply and we're only a decade or so of being out of gas if we burn it fast?
Folks who are putting a lot of hope into natural gas being the savior of internal combustion engines might want to give this a read...
Proved reserves (the amount we actually know is available) will last only 11 years at 2010 burn rates.
Proved reserves plus "probable reserves" would last 21 years at 2010 burn rates.
All the "years" greater than 21 are speculative.
Natural gas is a great 'infill' for renewable energy. It's highly dispatchable. It would be a shame to burn up this stuff before we have good, affordable electricity storage ready to fill in the gaps.
Posted by: Bob Wallace | 21 February 2012 at 10:14 AM
Many think of cars when people mention natural gas, but it is trucks where it will do the most good. They have the space, can carry the weight and use lots of fuel.
I figure that we may use 20% more natural gas with lots of trucks on natural gas. We could probably do that, but would use the reserves up faster. We can turn coal and biomass into methane, but at 30 cents a therm it is not profitable.
Posted by: SJC | 21 February 2012 at 10:26 AM
The technology of CNG is already developed and working in taxis, particular cars and even trucks arround the world. Public transportation in the US is also being converted.
Technology for compressed natural gas is in its 5th generation in Argentina (world leader) and 20,000 gasoline cars are converted there every year.
In our company, Bravo motor Company, we are developing a 100% CNG car which has more efficiency and same authonomy than conventional cars, you can see our developments at www.bravomotorcompany.com.ar
We also work with a technological leader to launch conversion kits and gas compressors to charge the tanks.
Since the 80s no accidents or explosions were registered with CNG converted cars.
US is now focusing on CNG because of Shale Gas discoreries, this energy source will increase dramatically US energy matrix, so get used to CNG Tech, it is coming!!!
Eduardo Javier Muñoz
Posted by: Account Deleted | 21 February 2012 at 11:24 AM
LPG is so much easier to store and there's already a huge market in Europe.
Posted by: dursun | 21 February 2012 at 12:20 PM
A taxi might put on 100 miles per day at 12 mpg, a long haul truck puts on 400 miles per day at 4 mpg. A truck consumes 12 times more fuel and there are millions of them in the U.S. Most bang for the buck is called for, LNG in long haul trucking ASAP.
Posted by: SJC | 21 February 2012 at 12:36 PM
The supply of natural gas is going to increase dramatically not just in the US but world wide. Discoveries have been made even in some East European countries which have traditionally had to import the product from Russia. While these countries lack the extraction technology, US firms are at the ready to supply it unless of course the Spinach party shuts down this clean energy source as well.
Speaking of shutting down, the Bakken Oil formation in North Dakota is a huge oil reserve which could make the US energy independent. In fact there is more oil in this discovery and under the Rockies than all of Saudi Arabia. It's surprising that the Spinach party hasn't been able to shut the operations down there as well. They must be gnashing their teeth at the realization that "Big Oil" has had its way.
Incidentally, the Germans are beginning to find out that replacing their nuclear plants with solar and wind is going to cost their industry / consumers big time.
Another Green shnapps idee turning out to be a disaster.
Posted by: Mannstein | 21 February 2012 at 12:39 PM
I agree that CNG bifuel cars are the way to go. If you run out of CNG on a back road presumably you can get a few litres of liquid petrol or diesel to get home. The Opel Zafira van appears to have this capability. CNG pumps can be installed in service stations gradually over time.
If CNG takes off as a vehicle fuel that may create a price shock for industrial users of gas such as combined cycle power stations. In Australia diesel is priced at about $40 per gigajoule of energy where a GJ and mmbtu are about the same amount. When CNG becomes mainstream the price rise may be too much for piped gas users. Suppose for example power station NG went from $4 to $10. I think new generation capacity should be nuclear not gas to free up supply.
Posted by: Aussie | 21 February 2012 at 02:21 PM
One of the best things we can do to keep gas prices down is to keep the (evil rotten horrible) tax breaks for small, independent oil & gas producers.
Posted by: ejj | 21 February 2012 at 03:41 PM
Methane can be made at home from a large variety of foods and waste foods. It also can be compressed at home. Dual fuel vehicles are most acceptable.
Cogeneration at home to charge hybrid electric batteries and heat and cool the house is a good use of methane.
All people and dogs have always been radio-active so there is no reason to fear nuclear power more than riding in an automobile.
The sun kills many people every day; so should we stop using solar power. The Japanese and Germans are allowed to smoke, but they are not allowed to use nuclear power??
Nuclear power plants can make methane at a sufficiently low cost for automobile fuel for plug in hybrid car range extender generators. ..HG..
Posted by: Henry Gibson | 21 February 2012 at 04:24 PM
Natural gas can be used in diesel or spark ignited engines. This makes dispensing it at fueling stations practical, you would have more customers.
Posted by: SJC | 21 February 2012 at 05:31 PM
I have to wonder what Mannstein is smoking today. The Bakken formation has a huge amount (~500 billion bbl) of oil "originally in place", but less than 1% of it is in passages which can be extracted through drilling (3.65 billion bbl median estimate per the USGS). That's a mere half-million bbl/day for just 20 years.
I'd bet even money that there's more energy available from the uranium extractable from the Bakken through solution mining than there is in drillable oil from it.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 21 February 2012 at 08:41 PM
@SJC: LNG instead of diesel for long-haul trucking: I agree, it's all good.
Posted by: Nick Lyons | 21 February 2012 at 10:02 PM
Another option is Adsorbed Natural Gas (ANG) Technology.
Posted by: ai_vin | 22 February 2012 at 01:17 PM
One often overlooked benefit to CNG is that the infrastructure can also handle hythane. This means we can use the NG infrastructure to store renewable energy from wind and solar in the form of hydrogen and synthetic methane. Even at the low percentages of H2 mixed into hythane the nation's gas pipelines should be enough to store several days worth of energy.
"Hythane® is a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen, usually 5-7 percent hydrogen by energy. Natural gas is generally about 90+% methane, along with small amounts of ethane, propane, higher hydrocarbons, and “inerts” like carbon dioxide or nitrogen. Hydrogen and methane are complimentary vehicle fuels in many ways. Methane has a relatively narrow flammability range that limits the fuel efficiency and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions improvements that are possible at lean air/fuel ratios. The addition of even a small amount of hydrogen, however, extends the lean flammability range significantly. Methane has a slow flame speed, especially in lean air/fuel mixtures, while hydrogen has a flame speed about eight times faster. Methane is a fairly stable molecule that can be difficult to ignite, but hydrogen has an ignition energy requirement about 25 times lower than methane.
Finally, methane can be difficult to completely combust in the engine or catalyze in exhaust after treatment converters. In contrast, hydrogen is a powerful combustion stimulant for accelerating the methane combustion within an engine, and hydrogen is also a powerful reducing agent for efficient catalysis at lower exhaust temperatures."
Posted by: ai_vin | 22 February 2012 at 01:42 PM
The issue with hydrogen in NG systems is that it has about 1/3 the energy per unit volume, and the systems required to separate it for those end uses requiring enriched or pure hydrogen also cost money and require energy.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 22 February 2012 at 03:52 PM
Well yeah, it is a trade off, but if we can get more energy from renewables closer to end use the exsisting network of gas pipelines will be oversized to the new needs. Meaning, more volume available for hydrogen.
There's always going to be trade offs.
Posted by: ai_vin | 22 February 2012 at 09:22 PM
If the added volume costs more in pumping energy than you get out at the other end, what's the point?
HVDC has lower losses than NG pipelines.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 22 February 2012 at 09:57 PM
In Europe NG price is five fold of US. Therefore NG could be option for US but Europe is heavily hemorrhaging of gas imports as well.
Posted by: Darius | 23 February 2012 at 02:42 AM
Engineer-Poet wrote: "If the added volume costs more in pumping energy than you get out at the other end, what's the point?
HVDC has lower losses than NG pipelines."
The point is that gas pipelines already have a currently existing inherent short term energy storage capacity, whereas HVDC itself has for practical purposes none.
Storing even a small fraction of excess energy production peaks is better than none.
Getting back to the original topic, the reduced cost of the improved CNG tank should make the initial cost of a CNG vehicle more competitive. A larger portion of CNG capable vehicles would increase flexibility of the energy demand, and reduce sensitivity and vulnerability to oil supply.
Posted by: Fred H | 28 February 2012 at 11:45 AM
If pumping losses consume most or all of the energy input, what's being stored? At some point it's going to be cheaper to use truck batteries, and we already know they're not economically viable.
Rather than making and storing H2, using temporary surpluses of power to e.g. scrub and compress or liquefy landfill gas would perform real DSM and store real energy.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 29 February 2012 at 03:47 AM
For example, you have a windmill that can produce 4 kW more than the electrical grid can use for one hour = 4kWh excess energy production.
Alternative 1: throttle the power production to meet current demand and lose the excess energy production.
Alternative 2: use 2 kWh to produce 1 kWh energy equivalent of of hydrogen, and the other 2 kWh to pump the hydrogen through the pipeline. At the other end, sooner or later 1 kWh energy equivalent of hydrogen comes out of the pipeline.
Alternative 3: compress or liquefy landfill gas, pump water up to reservoir, pump air into cavern, electrochemical storage, thermal storage, etc. require either proximity to certain places or more equipment.
If there is a gas pipeline handy, then hydrogen production would be a very simple alternative. Sure, it is far from ideal, but under certain circumstances, it may be better than nothing.
Posted by: Fred H | 29 February 2012 at 07:36 AM