3M and Chesapeake Energy Corporation have announced an agreement to collaborate in designing, manufacturing and marketing a broad portfolio of compressed natural gas tanks.
These tanks are for use in all sectors of the United States transportation market. Currently the fuel tank on a CNG vehicle is its most expensive single component. The new CNG tanks developed through the 3M and Chesapeake partnership will be made to reduce costs while increasing performance. Less expensive tanks will enable greater market adoption of CNG as an alternative automotive fuel source.
3M’s CNG tank solution combines proprietary liner advancements, thermoplastic materials, barrier films and coatings as well as damage-resistant films to transform the pressure vessel industry. Using nanoparticle-enhanced resin technology, 3M will create CNG tanks that are 10 to 20 percent lighter with 10 to 20 percent greater capacity, all at a lower cost than standard vessels.
Increased political support and private investment have made natural gas a viable automotive fuel alternative with hugh growth potential. With more than a 100-year supply of natural gas in the United States and an average price per gasoline gallon equivalent of $1.00 to $2.00, the fuel is plentiful and affordable. The fuel also burns more cleanly than gasoline, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent and particulate matter by 95 percent.
Chesapeake has pledged an initial $10 million toward design and certification services, market development support and a commitment to use the new tanks for its corporate fleet conversion to CNG. The company’s investment will be provided by Chesapeake NG Ventures Corporation (CNGV), established in 2011 to identify and invest in companies and technologies that will replace the use of gasoline and diesel derived primarily from foreign oil. CNGV has committed $1 billion over the next 10 years to help fund various initiatives to increase demand for natural gas, including investments totalling $300 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp.
3M has engaged Hypercomp Engineering, Inc. of Utah for the design and certification of tanks. 3M will manufacture the tanks and focus its capital on all future operations and production. 3M expects these tanks to be available for sale during the fourth quarter of 2012.