Low-Pressure Conformable Natural Gas Vehicle Tank

Low-Pressure Conformable Natural Gas Vehicle Tank

Des Plaines, Illinois
Project Term:
10/01/2012 - 03/31/2014

Critical Need:

With natural gas prices at an all-time low, compressed natural gas technologies can take advantage of clean natural gas to displace higher-cost fuels. The economic and environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are being increasingly recognized, but the first-cost entry into using them is preventing more widespread adoption. The development of innovative, low-cost natural gas storage technologies and methods to lower pressure in vehicle tanks will help overcome market barriers to increased NGV use.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will partner with Northwestern University, NuMat Technologies, a Northwestern start-up company, and Westport Fuel Systems to identify materials with the best characteristics for low-pressure natural gas storage. The gas-storing materials, known as metal organic framework (MOF) adsorbents, hold natural gas the way a sponge holds liquids. The project team will further develop their computer modeling and screening technique to support the creation of a low-pressure adsorbent material specifically designed for natural gas vehicles. The team will also validate the materials properties in real-world conditions. Low-pressure gas tanks represent significant potential for lowering not only the cost of NGVs, but also the cost of fueling by reducing the need to compress the gas.

Potential Impact:

If successful, GTI's low-pressure, low-cost, adsorbent material would increase the convenience and driving range of natural gas vehicles at a substantial price reduction to consumers.


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. Eric Rohlfing
Project Contact:
Dr. Ted Barnes
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Northwestern University

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