Creating great opportunities for American motorists
Natural gas presents a great opportunity for American motorists. It’s clean, it’s low cost, and it’s plentiful. Thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling technologies, America is now a global leader in natural gas production. Plus, it’s distributed to 60 million homes in America.
So, why isn’t it used as a vehicle fuel today? Natural gas isn’t used for two reasons: refueling and storage. There aren’t fueling stations serving natural gas, often delivered under high pressure as in compressed natural gas (CNG). While the infrastructure in CNG fuel stations grows, the fuel container still consumes too much space. Natural gas vehicles (NGVs), are fairly common across the world with as many as 20 million in use today. The packaging of the cylindrical storage vessel isn’t pretty, nor is it practical, as shown in the photograph to the right.
Convenience is king in America and many other developed countries. Americans won’t buy a vehicle with so many compromises, on trunk space, range, or places to fill up. Until these issues are solved, CNG will not be a mainstream fuel for the USA.
Loukus Tech’s Technology Solves the Problem
Nature’s shape for high pressure storage is a sphere, or more practically, a cylinder. However, the enclosed volume around a cylinder is wasted seeing as it is unable to be utilized for gas storage. The non-cylindrical tank is called a “conformable” tank. This conformable tank stores high pressure compressed natural gas in the same place on a vehicle where gasoline is stored today, yet still has enough gas to meet the desired driving range of the vehicle.
LT’s technology borrowed the shape of a sea urchin from nature. This shape is extremely efficient, one that is structurally and volumetrically efficient for high pressure gas storage. The shape is defined as a Schwarz P-surface. The tank was designed using the P-surface structure; then manufactured the inner core structure of this shape, and is using its proprietary casting technologies to develop a high integrity casting with a very complex inner geometry.
In Hydrostatic Burst Testing, the chamber allows for the containment of the tank and control dispersion of any and all energy associated with the hydrostatic burst, as well as a burst with gas pressure should the tank fail while filled with compressed gas.
Through various process improvements, the target burst pressure of 8100 psi was achieved. Additional work is ongoing to further optimize the weight, energy density, and specific energy of the tank. The test standards are designed for cylindrical tanks, so Loukus is working with the tank test community to determine a fair test parameter that ensures the safety and performance of the conformable tank design. Loukus Technologies is seeking financial and commercial partners to bring resources and investment for future product development, manufacturing scale-up, sales, marketing and distribution. If you are interested, please contact Loukus today.