Intestinal Natural Gas Storage

Otherlab
Safe, Dense, Conformal, Gas Intestine Storage
Image of Otherlab's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,450,000
Location: 
San Francisco, CA
Project Term: 
09/03/2012 to 09/25/2015
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: 
Otherlab is developing a natural gas storage tank made of small-radius, high-pressure tubes that allow for maximum conformability to vehicle shape. Current storage options are too rigid, expensive, and inefficient to support adoption of natural gas vehicles. Otherlab's space-filling tube design, modeled after human intestines, provides for maximum storage capacity. This transformational system could be constructed from low-cost materials and well suited to highly automated manufacturing processes.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Otherlab's intestinal natural gas storage system would allow an increase in the storage density, safety, and space utilization and give automotive designers more freedom in vehicle design.
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: 
Mr. Tucker Gilman