The U.S. Department of Energy’s top-secret Savannah River National Laboratory will use a $5.5 million award to help Ford Motor Co., and other partners, explore developing vehicles powered by natural gas.
“This is a logical extension of the work we have performed in hydrogen research,” said lab Director Terry Michalske, whose scientists will join with other groups, including the University of California, Berkeley and global chemical giant BASF.
The research includes exploring low-pressure natural gas fuel systems that would be compatible with cars and light vehicles.
Today’s natural gas vehicle technologies require tanks that can withstand high pressures, are cumbersome, and are either too large or too expensive to be suitable for light-duty passenger vehicles, the national lab said, in a news release summarizing the program.
The funding, from the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy project, will help find ways to remove those barriers, which in turn could encourage wider use of natural gas vehicles.
The national lab’s research is one of 13 projects that will receive a total of $30 million to improve the use of natural gas in vehicles and devise natural gas compressors to efficiently fuel such vehicles at home.
Although gasoline relies largely on foreign influences, 85 percent of the compressed natural gas used in the U.S. is also produced here.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, natural gas yields 30 percent to 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and is considered a cleaner-burning fuel that reduces carbon monoxide.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy was launched in 2009 to stimulate research into technologies that are considered too risky for private sector investment but have the potential to create huge commercial and economic benefits, the release said.