Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), a natural gas distribution utility, has launched a field demonstration of natural gas vehicle fueling technology that aims to significantly reduce costs and increase performance. The Microbox, developed by Argentina’s Galileo Corp. and used extensively internationally, is being showcased for the first time in the United States at SoCalGas’ Riverside customer service base. The compact, self-contained fueling station provides compressed natural gas at about $2 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) to vehicles operated by the city and county of Riverside, AT&T, SoCalGas as well as regional school bus and taxi companies and consumer vehicles.
The testing of the Galileo Microbox – a streamlined compressed natural gas “fueling station in a box” – is part of SoCalGas’ research and development efforts to advance innovative technologies to benefit customers and the region. The modular fueling station technology offers the potential for lower construction and maintenance costs, faster vehicle fueling, minimized installation time and a smaller physical footprint.
“Compressed natural gas is a clean, domestically produced transportation fuel offering significant costs savings to customers,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions at SoCalGas. “Our goal with this demonstration project is to help advance new technology that will reduce upfront capital costs for cities, counties and private operators looking to build compressed natural gas fueling stations.”
The city of Riverside is a leader in the use of clean-burning natural gas to power its fleet of 250 vehicles, including 60 sedans, 73 pickups, 39 vans and buses, 13 street sweepers, 25 refuse trucks and 39 other heavy-duty trucks.
Modular fueling station technologies, like those being developed by Galileo Corp., contain all the primary components required for a refueling facility in a single, factory integrated enclosure the size of a small shipping container. Hence, the nickname “station in a box.” This technology takes 20 percent less space and can be installed faster than traditional facilities with separate components that must be installed on the site, thereby offering the potential to significantly reduce capital cost and construction time.
Southern California currently has nearly 300 CNG fueling stations serving more than 17,000 natural gas-powered vehicles. SoCalGas over the next few years is adding 1,000 new natural gas-powered trucks to its fleet and plans to upgrade and expand all of its 13 company-owned public-access compressed natural gas stations.
(This item compiled using information from a SoCalGas press release)