Researchers from KAIST University have designed plastic-based materials that can store natural gas more effectively. These new materials can not only make large-scale, cost-effective, and safe natural gas storage possible, but further hold a strong promise for combating global warming.
Natural gas is a clean energy alternative. It is stored by compression, liquefaction, or adsorption. Among these, adsorbed natural gas (ANG) storage is a more efficient, cheaper, and safer alternative to conventional compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage approaches that have drawbacks such as low storage efficiency, high costs, and safety concerns. However, developing adsorptive materials that can more fully exploit the advantages of ANG storage has remained a challenging task.
A KAIST research team led by Professor Cafer T. Yavuz from the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability (EEWS), in collaboration with Professor Mert Atilhan’s group from Texas A&M University, synthesised 29 unique porous polymeric structures with inherent flexibility, and tested their methane gas uptake capacity at high pressures. These porous polymers had varying synthetic complexities, porosities, and morphologies, and the researchers subjected each porous polymer to pure methane gas under various conditions to study the ANG performances.
Of these 29 distinct chemical structures, COP-150 was particularly noteworthy as it achieved a high deliverable gravimetric methane working capacity when cycled between 5 and 100 bar at 273 K, which is 98% of the total uptake capacity. This result surpassed the target set by the United States Department of Energy (US DOE). COP-150 is the first ever structure to fulfil both the gravimetric and volumetric requirements of the US DOE for successful vehicular use, and the total cost to produce the COP-150 adsorbent was only 1 USD per kilogram.
COP-150 can be produced using freely available and easily accessible plastic materials, and moreover, its synthesis takes place at room temperature, open to the air, and no previous purification of the chemicals is required. The pressure-triggered flexible structure of COP-150 is also advantageous in terms of the total working capacity of deliverable methane for real applications.
The research team believed that the increased pressure flexes the network structure of COP-150 showing “swelling” behaviour, and suggested that the flexibility provides rapid desorption and thermal management, while the hydrophobicity and the nature of the covalently bonded framework allow these promising materials to tolerate harsh conditions.
This swelling mechanism of expansion-contraction solves two other major issues, the team noted. Firstly, when using adsorbents based on such a mechanism, unsafe pressure spikes that may occur due to temperature swings can be eliminated. In addition, contamination can also be minimized, since the adsorbent remains contracted when no gas is stored.
Professor Yavuz said, “We envision a whole host of new designs and mechanisms to be developed based on our concept. Since natural gas is a much cleaner fuel than coal and petroleum, new developments in this realm will help switching to the use of less polluting fuels.”
Professor Atilhan agreed the most important impact of their research is on the environment. “Using natural gas more than coal and petroleum will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We believe, one day, we might see vehicles equipped with our materials that are run by a cleaner natural gas fuel,” he added.
Naturgy has inaugurated the first public natural gas supply station for vehicles in Cartagena. The plant, which allows the supply of compressed natural gas (CNG), is located on Pedro Sánchez Meca Avenue in Cartagena, in a strategic location close to the port activity.
This new refueling point is added to the one currently held by the energy company in the Murcia neighbourhood of the Era Alta and which supplies compressed natural gas (CNG) to both public fleets and private vehicles. In addition, it is expected that in the coming months a third will be inaugurated in Molina de Segura that will allow refuelling of both light and heavy vehicles by having suppliers in both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) form.
The implementation of this new natural gas supply station is part of the company’s mobility promotion project, which aims to enhance the use of natural gas as a fuel as the best sustainable alternative to fossil fuels derived from petroleum.
This new public natural gas supply station represents a further step for Naturgy in its commitment to move forward in the transition to clean energy transport models that contribute to improving air quality and, therefore, people’s health.
The new map of vehicular natural gas recharging points in Spain will allow to meet the increase in demand in the coming years and strengthen the availability of this fuel in the market, given the increase that vehicles powered by natural gas are experiencing.
Snam and IP have agreed to construct an initial 26 new natural gas refuelling stations, which will open across IP’s distribution network in Italy in 2020. The new openings comprise the first phase of the 2018 framework agreement between IP and Snam to build up to 200 new natural gas stations in Italy. The initiative is part of the companies’ commitment to promoting sustainable mobility.
Snam and IP have jointly identified the fuelling stations with IP branded fuel, at which they will install compressed natural gas (CNG) supply for cars. Two of these stations (in Veneto and in Emilia-Romagna) will also supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) for heavy vehicles. Of the 26 new plants, six will be built in Lazio, five in Lombardy, five in Tuscany, two in Emilia-Romagna, two in Veneto, one in Abruzzo, one in Calabria, one in the Marche, one in Piedmont, one in Puglia and one in Puglia in Umbria, mostly along highways.
This initiative is a significant growth opportunity for IP, consistent with the company’s vision to innovate and provide a multi-energy offer, from diesel to petrol, gas and ultrafast electricity. The new stations add to the 46 existing natural gas stations on the IP network, demonstrating a concrete contribution to the construction of the infrastructure supporting the country’s transition to sustainable mobility. The investment in new LNG stations in particular represents an important step for the network’s ability to support heavy gas transportation.
The agreement with IP is part of Snam’s commitment to boosting the growth of the Italian distribution network of CNG and LNG, through direct investments and agreements with other operators. Italy is the European leader NGV mobility with 1 million natural gas vehicles and around 1,350 service stations. This number is set to increase as a result of Snam’s investments. Snam4Mobility, a 100% subsidiary of Snam, has currently delivered 6 plants and contracted over 70 under a plan that provides for an overall construction of around 300 new CNG and LNG stations in the coming years.
Iberofleeting, a Valencia company that is a benchmark in the integral and outsourced management of corporate vehicle fleets, has recently managed the renewal of the Serunión Vending fleet, which, also committed to sustainability and to the maximum reduction of harmful emissions from its vehicles, has opted for NGVs that have the “ECO” label from the Spanish General Directorate of Traffic (DGT).
This will be an added value not only in environmental terms but also in the purely professional aspect, since the “ECO” label will allow the vehicles to access all city centres.
After the relevant analysis carried out by Iberofleeting, finally, the models selected for the best performance of the tasks requested by Serunión Vending have been of the Volkswagen brand and, more specifically, the Caddy and Crafter in their configuration of compressed natural gas (CNG) engines being more than recognised in both the quality of the product and the after-sales service of the brand.
In this fleet renewal for Serunión Vending, Iberofleeting has provided comprehensive management since the preliminary study of the brand and models most suitable for the use and performance required, exterior signage and interior equipment.
The IVECO Daily Blue Power natural gas model received the ‘2019 Distribution and Commercial Vehicle’ award, in the third edition of the 2019 Ecotransporte Forum, organized by publishing group Encamion.com and Transcalit (Catalan Transport Federation of Barcelona).
The jury highlighted: “the natural gas Daily Blue Power is one of the less polluting vehicles offered in the market, and that meets the Euro 6 standard without resorting to systems like the EGR or the SCR with AdBlue mixture. During the test of Encamion.com, an average consumption of 7.9 kg of CNG/100 km was obtained.” They also add that “it offers more and more electronic and technological systems, which make everyday life easier for the driver”.
Filippo D’Amico, Director of the Light Vehicle Business for IVECO Spain, received this award. During ‘The future of diesel, natural gas and electrics’ round table, in which he participated, D’Amico explained the importance of alternative fuels to achieve sustainable transport. In addition, restrictions on the movement of industrial and commercial vehicles in Barcelona, their access to the metropolitan, port and industrial areas were also analysed in the different round tables organized.
With more than 26,000 units sold worldwide, IVECO is a benchmark and market leader in the natural gas technology of commercial vehicles worldwide. Natural gas is the only real, economic and sustainable option today, both for last mile and long-distance missions.
Volkswagen Group and its industry partners from the gas supply, network, and filling station operation showcased their products and services at the 3rd CNG Mobility Days in Berlin (25-26 June 2019), presenting an overview of the current situation and the future of CNG. Volkswagen Group brands will also be exhibiting their latest CNG models in the passenger car, truck and bus segments.
In parallel with the advancing electrification of its fleet, Volkswagen Group and its brands continue to rely on compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative drive technology for decarbonising road transport, and the product range has been revised and expanded again with this in mind.
Volkswagen Group currently offers the widest selection of CNG vehicles of any manufacturer, by a substantial margin. At the annual general meeting in mid-May 2019, Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, announced that CNG will continue to play an important role for the Group in the future: “We are the global market leader for gas drive systems, and better positioned than our competitors. We also plan to continue further expanding and improving this technology.”
Using CNG as an energy source for automobiles meaningfully contributes to reducing emissions, as well as representing a cost-efficient customer alternative to petrol and diesel. “Volkswagen is committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. CNG has an important role to play in the alternative drive systems strategy that runs alongside the Group’s electrification offensive. It is sufficiently proven, immediately available, efficient and cost-effective. Furthermore, CNG cars are not affected by driving bans in city centres,” explains Stephen Neumann, Volkswagen Group Representative for CNG Mobility. He adds: “Refuelling with biomethane or e-gas results in an even better CO2 balance. Biomethane is obtained from organic residues, while e-gas is produced from excess green electricity (power-to-gas).
Both can easily be fed into the gas network and mixed with any amount of fossil natural gas.” Volkswagen Group brands and their industry partners have been working in this field for some time; Audi has been operating the world’s first industrial power-to-gas plant in Werlte (Emsland) since 2013, for example, with the Audi e-gas produced from wind power being fed into the natural gas grid – making Audi both a participant and a catalyst in the energy revolution. Green energy is made available to vehicle customers, while at the same time the storage of fluctuating eco-power and its research in practice enables the rapid expansion of wind and solar energy, which is also important to the success of e-mobility.
Source: Volkswagen Group
SKODA has introduced the most eco-friendly variant of its new compact model at the CNG Mobility Days event in Berlin which took place on 24/25 June 2019: the SKODA SCALA G-TEC. This natural gas SCALA completes the engine roster for the new compact model, adding a particularly efficient and eco-friendly variant. The 1.0 G-TEC has a peak output of 66 kW (90 PS), with three CNG tanks enabling a range of around 410 kilometres in natural gas mode, according to preliminary data.
Christian Strube, SKODA Board Member for Technical Development, explains: “Natural gas will play a key role in SKODA’s engine portfolio over the coming years in order to lower CO2 emissions. Our natural-gas engines are becoming more and more popular with our customers because of their low emissions. And anyone driving a SKODA SCALA G-TEC will in future also benefit from comparatively low fuel costs in many countries.”
SKODA is building a range of eco-friendly natural-gas models. The new SKODA SCALA G-TEC joins the OCTAVIA G-TEC as the second natural gas model in the SKODA model range. The new SCALA G-TEC is powered by a three-cylinder turbo with a 1.0-litre displacement and an output of 66 kW (90 PS). Its maximum torque of 160 Nm is transmitted via a 6-speed manual gearbox. The SCALA G-TEC is specifically designed for CNG use and complies with the Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard. CO2 emissions are reduced by around 25% compared to running on petrol, with considerably lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as well and no particulates.
The SCALA G-TEC comes with three linked steel CNG tanks accommodating 13.8 kilograms of CNG. This enables the compact model to cover around 410 kilometres in the eco-friendly and efficient natural-gas mode. Should the CNG run out, the SCALA will automatically switch to petrol mode, where a nine-litre tank allows it to cover around 220 additional kilometres. As a result, the SCALA G-TEC remains mobile in regions without natural gas filling stations, with a combined range of around 630 kilometres.
Thanks to the clever way the CNG tanks are integrated in the underbody, the SCALA G-TEC has a luggage capacity of 339 litres – a best-in-class value for natural gas vehicles in this segment.
Redexis, a comprehensive energy infrastructure company, and Cepsa, a global energy company, have reached an agreement for the creation of the largest network of refuelling stations for natural gas vehicles (NGV) in Spain, with the objective of expanding the supply of energy solutions and promoting sustainable mobility.
Through an investment of 30 million euros in the period 2019-2021, Redexis will undertake the construction and maintenance of 50 gas stations located at Cepsa Service Stations in Spain, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) and (compressed natural gas) CNG, used by all types of vehicles at regional and interregional level, whose supply and marketing will be handled by Cepsa. Likewise, this alliance aims to reach 80 service stations before the end of 2023, with a total investment of 60 million euros.
This network of the natural gas stations will have state-of-the-art equipment. It will be developed in urban areas and will also cover the main transport corridors, so that both heavy and light transport will be able to undertake trips with the security of having a network that guarantees their natural gas refuelling.
During the signing of the agreement, Fernando Bergasa, president of Redexis, stressed: “We are very satisfied with the agreement reached with Cepsa, since it allows a qualitative and quantitative leap in the infrastructural endowment of natural gas refuelling in Spain. From Redexis we are committed to making investments that help the country to undertake new challenges in terms of sustainability and respect for the environment, at the same time we express our interest in the development of ecological mobility through alternative fuels, which contribute to efficiency, sustainability and economic progress.”
Pedro Miró, the vice president and CEO of Cepsa, underlined: “Through this important agreement with Redexis, we continue to expand our portfolio of energy solutions, with the aim of offering customers all the energy they need. We are confident that through this alliance we will significantly promote gas mobility in Spain, both for the transport of people and goods.”
The Spanish automobile sector increases its growth forecasts for gas vehicles each year, with new models and conversions in the market. At the end of 2018, natural gas vehicle registrations were 5,745, 145% more than the previous year, and the estimates of the main manufacturers point to a fleet of 80,000 light vehicles to gas in 2021.
Snam has signed a 25 million euro loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to fund the roll-out of sustainable mobility projects, which focus on the use of natural gas and biomethane for light and heavy vehicles.
The investment subject to the loan agreement concerns the construction of 101 compressed natural gas (CNG) and 9 liquefied and compressed gas (L-CNG) refuelling stations in Italy for a total of around 50 million euro. The loan, which as per EIB practice will amount to a maximum of 50% of the cost of the investment, has an amortizing structure that will expire in December 2031, and a fixed rate of 0.547%.
These refuelling stations will be built as part of the company’s investment to strengthen Italy’s distribution network of natural gas and biomethane, which is one of the best technologies for sustainable mobility, both in terms of the economy and the environment. So far, through Snam4Mobility, Snam has launched 6 new distributors in Italy. There are around 60 more currently under construction, and Snam expects to build a total of 300 in the coming years. Snam’s commitment to sustainable mobility is part of the Snamtec project, launched with the company’s 2018-2022 strategic plan and supported by an 850 million euro investment in sustainability, technological innovation and new activities relating to the energy transition.
The loan will complement the European Union’s 1.3 million euro contribution provided through the CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) programme, obtained by Snam4Mobility last December for the construction of 9 L-CNG filling stations.
Hans Peter Schützinger, CEO of Porsche Holding Salzburg and Rainer Seele, OMV Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO, gave a joint press conference at the OMV headquarter in which they focused on the role gas can play in our future energy, as well as the significance of compressed natural gas (CNG) for mobility.
The IEA World Energy Outlook 2018 “New Policy Scenario” forecasts a sharp growth for the global gas market. A surge in demand for gas of up to 43% is expected by 2040.
A comprehensive network of 160 CNG filling stations (of which 54 OMV) in Austria, fast fuelling times, running-cost reductions of up to 50% and a wide range of models are all adding to the appeal of CNG vehicles.
“In the mobility sector, the use of gas is a clear choice for cutting CO2 nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions, as well as providing numerous other benefits for our customers,” according to Rainer Seele, OMV Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO.
Together, OMV and Porsche Holding are offering a special deal for those considering a CNG vehicle: if you buy a CNG model under one of the Volkswagen brands VW, Audi, SEAT or Skoda, you can fill up with CNG for free at OMV filling stations for your entire first year.