SoCalGas funds demonstration of adsorbed natural gas technology

Source: press release, 18 March 2019

Adsorbed natural gas technology is the use of a highly porous adsorbent material to densely store natural gas molecules at low pressures (900 psi and below)
Adsorbed natural gas technology is the use of a highly porous adsorbent material to densely store natural gas molecules at low pressures (900 psi and below) (photo: Adsorbed Natural Gas Products)

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has announced it will fund a field demonstration of adsorbed natural gas bi-fuel vehicles powered by natural gas compressing technology developed by Adsorbed Natural Gas Products, Inc. and Ingevity. Adsorbed natural gas technology uses Ingevity’s unique Nuchar® activated carbon to reduce the storage pressure of natural gas without sacrificing the volume of natural gas stored through a process called adsorption. Using this type of fuel provides a cleaner and lower cost fuel option for large, light-duty vehicles, such as SUVs, half-ton pickup trucks, and service vans, than diesel, gasoline, or traditional compressed natural gas fuel.

“The transportation sector accounts for more than 80% of smog forming emissions and about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in California,” says Yuri Freedman, senior director of business development at SoCalGas. “Natural gas can play an important role in reducing emissions, and adsorbed natural gas can revolutionise the way natural gas is used as a transportation fuel. We are excited to see how the vehicles perform during the demonstration.”

“It is the unique ‘capture and release’ properties of our Nuchar activated carbon that makes this incredible new transportation option possible,” says Ed Woodcock, executive vice president and president of Performance Materials at Ingevity. “Having SoCalGas as a project partner will provide invaluable insight and support as we work to demonstrate the value of adsorbed natural gas to the natural gas community and light-duty vehicle fleets and commercialise this exciting new technology.”

Adsorbed natural gas vehicles can be fuelled at public-access compressed natural gas stations, as well as from home or work through a refuelling compressor. They operate at significantly lower fuelling pressure than standard compressed natural gas vehicles, refilling at 900 psi instead of 3,600 psi. This reduces energy consumption by over 50% and decreases fuelling time by over 60%. Additionally, these vehicles can travel long distances on adsorbed natural gas before seamlessly switching to gasoline. As natural gas costs USD 1.00-1.50 less per gasoline gallon equivalent than gasoline, adsorbed natural gas offers a lower-cost fuelling alternative.

Natural gas vehicles are some of the cleanest vehicles currently in commercial production; they can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by as much as 30%, carbon monoxide by 85%, and carcinogenic particulate emissions by 99%. Adsorbed natural gas vehicles are 90% cleaner than the US Environmental Protection Agency’s current nitrogen oxide standard and emit over 25% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than comparable gasoline and diesel vehicles.

SoCalGas is providing funding for the project with research and development funds authorised by the California Public Utilities Commission and will also test and validate the adsorbed natural gas vehicles during a six-month demonstration period.

Results from SoCalGas’ demonstration will support a commercial rollout of adsorbed natural gas vehicles to fleet operators in Southern California.