Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) reports it has signed a contract with Onboard Dynamics, Inc. (ObDI), an innovator in compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling technology, to fund the demonstration and testing of a new mobile natural gas compressor that is compact, easily transported and itself powered by CNG. It can be used to re-fuel compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles no matter where they are.
The U.S. made compressor will allow customers to refuel without driving to a retail refueling station or incurring the significant upfront investment of building a conventional CNG refueling station. Larger heavy-duty fleet operators who are considering converting to CNG vehicles may also find the compressor beneficial in the early phases of transitioning their fleets to alternative fuels.
“This mobile technology provides a cost-effective and convenient refueling solution for smaller CNG operators,” said Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions and communications for SoCalGas. “This, in turn, may lead to an accelerated adoption of CNG, which would contribute to improved air quality and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to petroleum-based fuels.”
The mobile compressor will be powered by natural gas, unlike other technologies that require an external electric power source for operation. Thus, it can also act as a capacity boost for existing CNG compressor stations or as a reliable backup source during emergency events in which electrical generators are offline.
“We are excited to introduce a mobile compressor that effectively provides CNG refueling options without the need for electric power,” said Rita Hansen, chief executive officer, ObDI. “Our technology can potentially reduce CNG production costs, increase efficiency, improve reliability and lower criteria emissions compared to previous engine-driven products.”
SoCalGas and ObDI will begin a demonstration project of the technology in California in summer this year with Mountain View School District in El Monte and Antelope Valley Schools Transportation Agency in Lancaster. SoCalGas has committed funds from its Research, Development and Demonstration program for the demonstration of this project, and ObDI will be responsible for project management, system design, performance monitoring and onsite maintenance of the compressors.
Additional funding and support for the development of the compressor was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, ONAMI, Oregon BEST, Portland Seed Fund, NW Natural and other utilities and private investors.