New CNG Fueling Tech Cuts Infrastructure Costs
Photo of City of Long Beach's existing CNG fueling infrastructure by Thi Dao.
A compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling vendor has introduced technology it says significantly reduces the cost of installing CNG fueling infrastructure for a time-fill application.
Safelite AutoGlass has begun using the new CNG fueling technology from Simple-Fill at its Worthington, Ohio, facility this month, and will begin using it to fuel as many as eight vans in the service fleet. Safelite sends the vans to customers for vehicle glass repair and replacement.
"With a technology that compresses natural gas in a more efficient way, Simple-Fill is delivering an affordable solution for compressing natural gas," said Doug Herron, Safelite's executive vice president and CFO. "We're hopeful their solution will enable us to fulfill our efficiency and social responsibility goals, so we can continue to focus on delivering a memorable service experience for our customers."
Simple-Fill's technology would replace a traditional reciprocating piston compressor, known as a recip, that's used as part of CNG fueling infrastructure. Rather than a recip, Simple-Full uses a unit that's filled with glycol-based fluid that takes the moisture out of the gas during compression. It replaces the dehydration unit used in a recip.
Simple-Fill's liquid compresses, cools, and dehydrates the natural gas, while eliminating methane leakage. The technology was originally conceived in 2012 at The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research, according to the company.
In 2014, Simple-Fill signed an exclusive technology license with Ohio State and has been working with Worthington Industries and Parker Hannifin Corporation to bring the approach to the mass market.
Simple-Fill's technology costs about half the price of a recip, which costs about $50,000 to $60,000. The unit is comparable to a recip that produces four equivalent gasoline gallons of CNG per hour.
The company hopes more fleets will adapt it, even with lower fuel prices. It would be ideal for fleets that operate refuse trucks, including government agencies, according to the company, which is targeting it for fleets with 100 vehicles or fewer.
"With the volatility of oil prices, we recognize the power of our approach to deliver a better compressor to fuel today’s vehicles," said Rob Underhill, founder and president of Simple-Fill. "Our partnership with Safelite AutoGlass signals a first step in bringing our groundbreaking technology to more fleets and we’re excited about what is on the horizon for natural gas compression."