3M and Chesapeake Energy Corporation partner to develop and market new CNG tank technology for natural gas vehicles
21 February 2012
3M and Chesapeake Energy Corporation will collaborate in designing,
manufacturing and marketing a broad portfolio of compressed natural gas
(CNG) tanks 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, according to the partners. The new CNG tanks developed
through the 3M and Chesapeake partnership are intended to reduce costs
while increasing performance. Less expensive tanks will enable greater
market adoption of CNG as an alternative automotive fuel source,
according to the partners.
3M’s CNG tank solution combines the company’s proprietary liner
advancements, thermoplastic materials, barrier films and coatings, and
damage-resistant films. Using nanoparticle-enhanced resin technology, 3M Matrix Resin for Pressure Vessels,
3M says it will create CNG tanks that are 10 to 20% lighter with 10 to
20% greater capacity, all at a lower cost than standard vessels. In
addition to these benefits, 3M says its technology produces safer and
more durable tanks than those currently on the market.
3M says that its resins inherently have much higher modulus and
fracture toughness than conventional epoxy resins. These properties
provide improved fiber delivered strength and fiber translation, burst
pressure after impact damage, and cycle life in composite overwarp
pressure vessels (COPVs).
3M believes in the potential of natural gas, and this
agreement illustrates our commitment to the industry. We are excited
about this collaboration to speed the development and adoption of
natural gas-powered vehicles.
—George Buckley, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of 3M
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 totaling $300 million in
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and privately-held Sundrop Fuels, Inc.
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.