Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cheaper natural gas-powered cars on the horizon?

Date:
April 16, 2013
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
When it comes to American consumers' vehicular preferences, a chemist says the choice often boils down to simple economics more so than availability, environment or altruism.

An illustration of a prototype 6-liter adsorbed natural gas (ANG) fuel tank that relies on innovative advanced porous materials and Texas A&M's proven expertise in metal-organic frameworks (MOF) and porous-polymer networks (PPN) to deliver low-pressure, high-density natural gas storage in vehicles.
Credit: Texas A&M University

When it comes to American consumers' vehicular preferences, Texas A&M University chemist Hongcai Joe Zhou says the choice often boils down to simple economics more so than availability, environment or altruism.

And while passenger vehicles that run on natural gas may be an option for the financially well-off, Zhou says a more cost-efficient system will be necessary to drive a nationwide shift from petroleum to cleaner-burning fuels.

Zhou's goal is to solve the technical hurdles related to natural gas storage -- answers that bode well for sectors ranging from energy and economics to global relations and preservation.

"We should invest in this for security reasons so we don't have to rely on countries that may not be our allies for petroleum and for environmental reasons, since a large part of air pollution comes from the transportation sector," Zhou said. "Government policy can help. However, the ultimate determining factor is that it has to be commercially viable. If it's too expensive, few will use it."

Natural gas tanks for passenger vehicles currently are large and clunky, and no one wants to buy an ugly car, Zhou says. He says a key technical hurdle is making the natural gas, which is less dense than petroleum because it's in the gaseous state, fit in roughly the same space that a conventional petroleum gas tank occupies. With the help of a recent $3 million Department of Energy grant, Zhou and his team are collaborating with automobile giant General Motors (GM), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to figure out how to take such a fuel tank from concept to reality.

Creating the necessary infrastructure to store and pump natural gas into vehicles would be prohibitively costly, so Zhou believes the solution is to use the existing natural gas infrastructure that runs through the homes and garages of millions of Americans for household uses, such as heating, cooling and cooking. The problem is that natural gas from those lines comes out at such a low pressure that it needs to be compressed to get it to the pressure it needs to be stored at in the fuel tank, a costly process. The trick: build a fuel tank that can store low-pressure natural gas, which is precisely what Zhou is using his considerable expertise in inorganic chemistry to do.

Zhou and his Texas A&M research group are working to adapt porous material to store a larger amount of the gas in the fuel tank and then let it out when needed. The key is to find the right kind of adsorbent, a type of substance that attaches atoms, ions or molecules to its surface. Zhou specializes in porous polymer networks (PPN) and metal-organic frameworks (MOF), which are crystalline frameworks consisting of metal ions along with ions or molecules that bind to the metal ions called organic ligands. Pores inside the MOF can be used for gas storage.

"This is high-risk, high-reward research," Zhou said. "It's going to take some time to overcome some of the technical challenges."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Cheaper natural gas-powered cars on the horizon?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416114127.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2013, April 16). Cheaper natural gas-powered cars on the horizon?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416114127.htm
Texas A&M University. "Cheaper natural gas-powered cars on the horizon?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130416114127.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

China Falls for 4x4s at Beijing Auto Show

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) The urban 4x4 is the latest must-have for Chinese drivers, whose conversion to the cult of the SUV is the talking point of this year's Beijing auto show. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Lytro Introduces 'Illum,' A Professional Light-Field Camera

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) The light-field photography engineers at Lytro unveiled their next innovation: a professional DSLR-like camera called "Illum." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

3 Reasons Why Harley Davidson Is Selling Tons of Epic Hogs

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) Sales of motorcycles have continued to ride back from the depths of hell known as the Great Recession. Excluding scooters, sales of motorcycles increased 3% in 2013. In units, however, at 465,000 sold last year, the total remained about 50% below the peak hit in 2007. Industry leader Harley Davidson’s shareholders have benefited both by the industry recovery and positive headlines emanating from the company. Belus Capital Advisors CEO Brian Sozzi takes you beyond the headlines of the motorcycle maker. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins