Eaton and GE Offering NGV Home Refueling Stations


Nat­ur­al gas vehi­cles (NGVs) face the recur­ring themes of all green cars, fuels, and tech­nolo­gies – dri­ving range and access to fuel sta­tions. There is an indi­ca­tion that NGVs are going main­stream, some­what on the coat­tails of elec­tric vehi­cles: Eaton Corp. and Gen­er­al Elec­tric are work­ing on advanced fuel­ing sta­tions for these alter­na­tive fuel vehi­cles.

Eaton plays a key role in devel­op­ment of the elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing infra­struc­ture (as does Gen­er­al Elec­tric), and the com­pa­ny just announced it will devel­op an afford­able home refu­el­ing sta­tion for NGVs. The sys­tem will tie into exist­ing home nat­ur­al gas sources and new com­pres­sor tech­nol­o­gy to deliv­er the vehi­cle fuel safe­ly and effi­cient­ly. Eaton’s effort is fund­ed in part by a $3.4 mil­lion grant from the Depart­ment of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Ener­gy (ARPA-E). The goal is to devel­op a pro­duc­tion pro­to­type for refu­el­ing sta­tions that will retail for about one tenth of the cost of cur­rent­ly avail­able sys­tems. The refu­el­ing sys­tem will use liq­uid to act as a pis­ton to com­press nat­ur­al gas. Inno­v­a­tive heat exchang­er tech­nol­o­gy will improve effi­cien­cy and cut costs dra­mat­i­cal­ly. The devel­op­ment project will be led by Eaton’s Inno­va­tion Cen­ter teams in South­field, Mich., and Mil­wau­kee and the Advanced Hydraulics group in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Gen­er­al Elec­tric (GE) has also tak­en on the NGV home fuel­ing sta­tion chal­lenge with a new fuel­ing sta­tion for nat­ur­al gas vehi­cles being devel­oped in part with gov­ern­ment fund­ing through ARPA-E. The GE pro­gram has a tar­get of a $500 refu­el­ing sta­tion that cuts the time required from five-to-eight hours to one hour. The project is a part­ner­ship between GE, Chart Indus­tries, and sci­en­tists with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri.

NGVs are used by a grow­ing num­ber of fleets in the US, with very lit­tle pres­ence in retail vehi­cles beyond the Hon­da Civic Nat­ur­al Gas. Home fuel­ing could help demand grow with con­sumers.



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