United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) has granted a licensing agreement allowing Adsorbed Natural Gas Products, Inc. (ANGP) to develop a commercially viable adsorbent-based low pressure natural gas (ANG) storage tank for motor vehicles.

The license applies to non-metal composite tanks containing activated carbon adsorbents at operating pressures of up to 1,000 psi.

The agreement addresses a 30-year industry need to build a market for natural gas-powered vehicles, said Bob Bonelli, ANGP co-founder and chief executive officer.

"Natural gas is a much cleaner and lower cost alternative to gasoline and diesel as a transportation fuel," Bonelli said. "Making it a commercially feasible option for mass market application has been primarily hampered by the large, bulky cylinders required to house the highly pressurized fuel, which adds weight and leaves minimal useful storage space in a passenger car or light-duty truck."

ANGP has addressed this barrier by using an adsorbent material (activated carbon) capable of storing large quantities of gas at a far lower pressure (less than 1,000 psi) than the 3,600 psi typically used for compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders.

"The lower pressure makes natural gas filling stations more cost-effective because the amount of compression required is much less than that required for conventional CNG tanks," Bonelli said. "This translates into smaller pumping equipment, resulting in lower capital and operating costs. When combined with UTRC's innovative conformable tank design, the resultant product allows us to reduce weight, increase storage space, and improve fuel efficiency."

UTRC began developing its conformable CNG tank in 2012 under the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program, according to David Parekh, corporate vice president of research and UTRC director.

United Technologies Research Center is a unit of United Technologies Corp.