Low Pressure Material-Based Natural Gas Fuel System

Ford Motor Company
Covalent and Metal-Organic Framework High-Capacity
Image of Ford's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$5,050,082
Location: 
Dearborn, MI
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: 
Ford is developing an on-board adsorbed natural gas tank system with a high-surface-area framework material that would increase the energy density of compressed natural gas at low pressures. Traditional natural gas tanks attempt to compensate for low-energy-density and limited driving range by storing compressed gas at high pressures, requiring expensive pressure vessels. Ford and their project partners will optimize advanced porous material within a system to reduce the pressure of on-board tanks while delivering the customer expected driving range. This porous material allows more gas to be stored inside a tank by utilizing a surface energy attraction to the natural gas. These materials would be efficiently and cost-effectively integrated into a natural gas vehicle system that will promote and contribute to the widespread use of natural gas vehicles.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Ford's low-pressure material-based natural gas fuel system would result in lowering the cost of on-board tanks station compressors, and fuel that serve to increase natural gas vehicle driving range.
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. Mike Veenstra
Partners
BASF
University of California-Berkeley
SRNL