Carbon Aerogel Natural Gas Sorbent Energy Storage Material
Unprecedented reserves of natural gas have recently been unlocked from previously uneconomical shale formations in the United States, leading to a rapid decline in the price of this fossil fuel energy source. In the U.S., natural gas vehicle utilization has been limited by several factors, including the lack of refueling locations and plentiful mass-produced CNG vehicle models. A significant limiting factor is the non-fuel costs associated with the requirement to incorporate expensive high pressure (3600 psi) on- board storage tanks that are heavy and bulky, along with the resulting requirement for high pressure refueling equipment. Overcoming these barriers will allow the massive transportation infrastructure that is so heavily dependent on petroleum fuels the opportunity to be quickly and economically converted to natural gas fuel. The solution to widespread natural gas fueled passenger cars is adsorbed natural gas (ANG). Instead of compressing the natural gas to high pressures up to 3600 psi, the option exists to utilize engineered, high surface area materials that can physically adsorb and desorb methane molecules when needed, and thus offer comparable storage densities at only 500 psi. This study will involve research into the optimum pore size and surface conditions needed for both methane storage AND delivery. This proposed effort will seek to investigate the performance capabilities of new classes of activated carbon aerogels through a system integration study, aerogel blending and packing density study, filling/discharging performance, and effects of thermal changes on performance. Overall goal is to develop a carbon aerogel based sorbent to be sold to natural gas vehicle manufactures. ANG storage tanks are lighter, cheaper, safer, and more easily conformable to vehicles. The DOE storage target for ANG has been set at 180 V/V in order to make ANG competitive with compressed natural gas. Ceralinks carbon aerogel sorbent will have a highly engineered microstructure, enabling higher amounts of adsorbed natural gas storage than previously possible, with a target of 235 V/V, while maintaining economic viability. Projections for U.S. on-road heavy-duty natural gas vehicles would reduce petroleum consumption by approximately 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, while another 400,000 barrels of oil per day reduction could be achieved with significant use of natural gas off-road vehicles. This scenario would reduce daily oil consumption in the United States by about 8%, which represents a savings of 15.8 billion BTU, through less energy expenditure on oil refining.
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