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Sorbent-Based Natural Gas Tank

Blackpak
Container-Less Natural Gas Storage
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$5,474,629
Location: 
San Francisco, CA
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 09/30/2016
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
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: 
Blackpak will use high-strength, high-surface-area carbon to develop a sorbent-based natural gas storage vessel in which the sorbent itself is the container, eliminating the external pressure vessel altogether. This design could store natural gas at comparable or lower weight and smaller size than conventional compressed gas tanks while reducing the pressure of the natural gas in the vehicle tank. By reducing tank pressure, the system will enable home vehicle refueling at greatly reduced complexity and cost, making these systems accessible to the general public. In addition, the container-less storage system can be easily formed into a range of shapes, allowing automobile designers to seamlessly integrate the natural gas storage into the vehicle design, without sacrificing passenger space.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Blackpak's sorbent-based natural gas storage tank would provide greatly reduced complexity and cost while conforming to a wide range of shapes, allowing automobile designers to seamlessly integrate the tank into their vehicle designs.
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. Jason Rugolo
Project Contact: 
Dr. Doug Kirkpatrick
Partners
SRI International
Release Date: 
7/12/2012