On-Vehicle Engine-Compressor System

OnBoard Dynamics
Vehicle-Integrated Natural Gas Compressor
ARPA-E Award: 
Bend, OR
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 08/08/2016
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

There are fewer than 600 natural gas vehicle refueling stations in the U.S. today, which represents a significant obstacle to the widespread adoption of natural gas vehicles. Developing at-home refueling systems would improve the convenience of owning a natural gas vehicle, but these systems can cost up to $5,000 and take 5-8 hours per vehicle charge. Dramatic improvements must be made to the cost and convenience of at-home refueling systems to accelerate natural gas vehicle adoption.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 
OnBoard Dynamics is modifying a passenger vehicle to allow its internal combustion engine to be used to compress natural gas for storage on board the vehicle. Ordinarily, filling a compressed natural gas vehicle with natural gas would involve driving to a natural gas refueling station or buying an expensive stand-alone station for home use. OnBoard's design would allow natural gas compression to take place in a single cylinder of the engine itself, allowing the actual car to behave like a natural gas refueling station. Ultimately, the engine would then have the ability both to power the vehicle and to compress natural gas so it can be stored efficiently for future use. The design would cost approximately $400 and pay for itself with fuel savings in less than 6 months.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, OnBoard's engine-integrated natural gas compressor would provide a cost-effective and efficient alternative to today's natural gas compression technologies, enabling rapid integration of natural gas vehicles to the market.
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.
Natural gas vehicles produce approximately 10% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles throughout the fuel life cycle.
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.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Jason Rugolo
Project Contact: 
Ms. Rita Hansen
Colorado State University
Oregon State University
Release Date: