GE has announced that its research division is working on a new development that it hopes will help spread the adoption of natural gas vehicles in the United States and around the world. GE is working in partnership with Chart Industries and scientists from the University of Missouri to develop an affordable home refueling station for natural gas vehicles. The researchers are working on the program through Advance Research Projects Agency for Energy or ARPA-E.
The goal of the ARPA-E program is to develop a natural gas home fueling station that could sell for $500 per unit and reduce fueling times from 5 to 8 hours to under an hour. There are at home refueling stations for natural gas vehicles available today, but they cost about $5000 and have long refueling times. Refueling commonly requires 5-8 hours for natural gas vehicles, typically meaning overnight refueling. The program hopes to improve the adoption of natural gas vehicles by average drivers with a fast and inexpensive home refueling station.
There are an estimated 15 million natural gas-powered vehicles operating globally with more than 250,000 in the United States. Most of those vehicles in the United States are commercial fleet vehicles such as buses and delivery trucks, but there are some passenger cars. The recharging station the researchers are working on would be fundamentally different from systems already available. The researchers are working on a system that chills, densifies, and transfers compressed natural gas more efficiently and the device will be a simpler design with fewer parts and will be able to operate quietly. The program is intended the last 28 months and cost approximately $2.3 million.