As much as a fifth of all new buses and garbage trucks are using
the fuel. GE, which
makes the technology that fills trucks with CNG, estimates that
a big fleet can save up to 40 percent at the pump, compared to
diesel. Switching from diesel to CNG can also cut greenhouse gas
emissions by 30 percent.
If fleets do it, why can't the average
Natural gas pipes run under every street, but the big issue is
time and money. Buses and trucks gas up at their large garages. CNG
citizen pioneers can purchase refueling stations for their homes,
but the equipment is expensive, $5,000 apiece. It also takes
between five to eight hours to fill up the tank, not exactly a
strong selling point.
Got Gas?: Fleets can save up to 40 percent in fuel
costs by switching to natural gas. GE Global Research and ARPA-E
are working to help everyday drivers enjoy similar
That's why GE Global Research (GRC) partnered with the
Research Project Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to develop a
home refueling station that can do the job in less than 60 minutes
and costs less than $500. Ambitious?
GRC is a century-old innovator and ARPA-E, which backs
high-risk research that may result in spectacular breakthroughs, is
modeled after Pentagon's DARPA, the agency that helped
incubate voice recognition software, digital medical imaging, and,
of course, the Internet.
"The goal of our project is to design an at-home refueling
station that is much simpler in design and more cost effective,"
says Anna Lis Laursen, project leader and chemical engineer at
"By reducing the time and cost of re-fueling, we can break down
the barriers that are preventing a more widespread adoption of
natural gas vehicles. 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."
GE has already started the work. It partnered with
the University of Missouri and Chart
Industries to design a system that skips the traditional
compressor and chills, "densifies", and transfers CNG more
efficiently. The total cost of the 28-month program will be
approximately $2.3 million, which will be shared by ARPA-E and