Highly Adsorbent Materials for Natural Gas Storage

Texas A&M University
System Development for Vehicular Natural Gas Storage Using Advanced Porous Materials
Image of Texas A&M's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,000,000
Location: 
College Station, TX
Project Term: 
09/17/2012 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Critical Need: 
Today's natural gas vehicles are fitted with on-board fuel tanks that are too large, cumbersome, and expensive to properly facilitate the widespread adoption of natural gas vehicles in the U.S. and globally. Additionally, the low volumetric density of natural gas--roughly 30% less energy by volume than gasoline--limits the driving range of natural gas vehicles and makes cost-effective storage solutions a significant challenge. Dramatic improvements must be made to the capacity, conformability, and cost of on-board storage to accelerate natural gas vehicle adoption.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Texas A&M University is developing a highly adsorbent material for use in on-board natural gas storage tanks that could drastically increase the volumetric energy density of methane, which makes up 95% of natural gas. Today's best tanks do not optimize their natural gas storage capacity and add too much to the sticker price of natural gas vehicles to make them viable options for most consumers. Texas A&M University will synthesize low-cost materials that adsorb high volumes of natural gas and increase the storage capacity of the tanks. This design could result in a natural gas storage tank that maximizes its ability to store methane and can be manufactured at low cost, side-stepping two major obstacles associated with the use of natural gas vehicles.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Texas A&M University's highly adsorbent materials would significantly improve the volumetric energy density of methane, driving down the cost of using natural gas in vehicles.
Security: 
Improving the convenience of natural gas vehicle ownership could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make consumers less vulnerable to sudden oil price shocks.
Environment: 
Natural gas vehicles produce approximately 10% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles throughout the fuel life cycle.
Economy: 
Compressed natural gas currently costs half as much per gallon of gasoline equivalent. With the average American spending over $2000 per year on gas, enabling the use of natural gas vehicles could save drivers $1000 per year.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Dane Boysen
Project Contact: 
Dr. Hongcai Zhou
Partners
General Motors
RTI International
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab