Tuesday September 23, 2014 0 comments
FORT COLLINS - Czero will provide engineering services to Oregon-based Onboard Dynamics to begin commercializing a natural gas vehicle (NGV) engine that uses one or more of its own cylinders to compress gas from low-pressure natural gas service lines for self-refueling.
The project is being funded by a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The technology behind Onboard Dynamics emerged from an R&D collaboration between Czero and Oregon State University-Cascades.
A previous $1 million DOE award had funded R&D by the research team to engineer, build and test the dual-function engine.
"Right now we have an impasse in natural gas vehicle adoption," said Guy Babbitt, Czero co-founder and CEO. "There aren't enough NGVs on the road to make building a public natural gas fueling station financially attractive, and at the same time there aren't enough refueling stations to give potential NGV owners confidence they'll be able to find one when they need one.
"We need a critical mass of NGVs and refueling stations - at the same time - for NGV utilization to really take off.
"Onboard Dynamics' technology addresses both problems at once. It makes the vehicle the fueling station, tapping into natural gas distribution infrastructure that already exists.
"This innovation could be the tipping point for widespread adoption of natural gas vehicles, and the ARPA-E award will help achieve that ambitious goal."
The project began in 2012 as part of ARPA-E's Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program. Within two years, the Czero-OSU research team had developed, prototyped and tested the new engine design, demonstrating its technical feasibility.
"At current market prices for natural gas versus conventional petroleum fuel, the Onboard Dynamics engines could reduce vehicle fuel costs by more than 50 percent," said Rita Hansen, Onboard Dynamics CEO.
The company said it will first focus on deploying the new technology in commercial fleets of light-duty pickup trucks.
(See the archived InnovatioNews profile story of Czero)