NISKAYUNA, N.Y.—GE Global Research is developing an at-home refueling station for natural gas vehicles that would meet ARPA-E’s target of $500 per station and reduce re-fueling times to less than one hour.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) awarded to project to GE’s research hub along with partners the University of Missouri and Chart Industries, an industrial gas equipment maker in Garfield Heights, Ohio.
Natural gas prices are at an all-time low and natural gas (NG) vehicles are more prevalent, but inconvenience and availability of refueling stations, as well as the and limited driving range of NG vehicles, are preventing greater adoption.
At-home refueling stations are sold today for about $5000 and require up to eight hours to fuel. These barriers are more easily managed by established fleets but are not practical for passenger vehicles parked in the driveway or garage at home.
“Since the beginning of the automotive industry, cars and trucks have driven on diesel fuel or unleaded gas,” “But with new technologies to reduce the cost of NG re-fueling and continued improvements in battery technology, the prospects for vehicles that run on alternative fuels will only grow.”
“The goal of our project is to design an at-home refueling station that is much simpler in design, more cost effective and reduces re-fueling times to under an hour.” said Anna Lis Laursen, project leader and chemical engineer at GE Global Research. “If we can meet our cost targets, the price of a home refueling station would be less than typical appliances in the home such as a dishwasher or stove.”
Today, the number of NG vehicles globally is estimated at around 15 million, with more than 250,000 in the U.S. Most are fleet vehicles such as buses and delivery trucks, but they include some passenger cars as well. With further improvements in the infrastructure to support NG vehicles, the market penetration could be much higher.
GE’s refueling station design chills, densifies and transfers compressed natural gas more efficiently with fewer moving parts, and that will operate quietly and be virtually maintenance-free.
The 28-month program will cost about $2.3 million, which will be shared by GE and ARPA-E. GE researchers will focus on overall system design integration. Chart Industries and University of Missouri will address the detailed engineering, cost and manufacturability of key system components.