Objective: to develop a production prototype for home refueling stations that will retail for about one tenth of the cost of currently available systems.
Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is to develop an affordable home refueling station for natural gas vehicles, utilizing existing natural gas sources in the home and innovative compressor technology to deliver the alternative fuel source safely and efficiently to vehicles. The project is funded in part by a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which included several other successful natural gas vehicle applications.
“Innovative projects like these have the potential to make natural gas vehicles more affordable and convenient for every American family and revolutionize the way we commute,” said Dane Boysen, Director of the Department of Energy’s Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program. “My hope is that these advanced technologies will enable us to use our abundant domestic supply of natural gas for transportation, diversifying our nation’s fuel and refueling portfolio for the future.”
Eaton will collaborate with the University of Minnesota on thermodynamic analysis and modeling to enable the efficient transfer of heat in the compression process. The refueling system will use liquid, which acts as a piston, to compress natural gas. Innovative heat exchanger technology will improve efficiency and cut cost dramatically.
“With the development of this breakthrough compressor and refueling system, Eaton will remove an important barrier to increased use of natural gas-powered cars and trucks,” said Chris Roche, vice president, Innovation Center, Corporate Technology. “Eaton has a wealth of experience in applying our power management technology to solve the world’s toughest hydraulic, electrical and mechanical problems. This project presents an exciting opportunity to find a safe, efficient and sustainable way to harness a critical alternative fuel source.”
Current natural gas refueling systems cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Eaton expects that its prototype will be available before the end of 2015 with a target production price of $500.
(This article compiled using information from an Eaton Corporation press release)