Gas Institute Has 500 Active Research Contracts

Article excerpt

By Max Nichols Columnist for The Journal Record About 500 active research contracts are under way in three major areas involving natural gas by the Gas Research Institute of Chicago, according to recent reports by the institute. With the Continental Conference on Natural Gas Vehicles staged this week at the University of Oklahoma Energy Center, Gas Research Institute reports were requested by The Journal Record. The institute, founded in 1976, is a private-not-for-profit organization that plans, manages and develops financing for gas-related research for its members and customers. The program is designed to provide advanced technologies for natural gas supply, transport and stor- age, and end-use applications. Most of the funding is provided by its more than 300 members, including pipelines, producers, municipal gas utilities, distribution firms and intrastate gas companies, the institute said. Pipe- line members were authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to include part of their tariffs (1.51 cents per thousand cubic feet in 1989) to fund the institute. Of the institute's obligations budget of $175 million in 1989, about 55 percent was allocated to improving end-use technologies, with 27 percent for supply and 14 percent for operations. The institute contracts with laboratories, universities and manufacturing firms for research, using its own staff of more than 250 for technical and economic analysis. Since its inception, the institute has developed more than 60 new gas products, processes and techniques, which are now in the marketplace. These have included the Lennox Industries Pulse furnace, semi-rigid indoor gas piping, gas cooling systems, new cogen- eration systems, a ductile iron process, a regenerative burner with integral heat recovery, and a combination combustion analyzer and controller for industrial gas-fueled combustion. The Charles Machine Works of Perry, Okla., introduced the True Trac Direc- tional Boring System for boring holes up to 600 feet and the Ditch Witch P80 Directional Rod Pusher for holes up to 400 feet long. Here is a summary of 15 reports on contracts under way for natural gas vehicles as of March 1991 by the institute:

Development of an all-composite storage cylinder for natural gas vehicles using compressed natural gas _ The project is to develop a cylinder to hold 3,000 pounds per square inch. "A significant barrier to commerciali- zation of natural gas vehicles is the weight and cost of on-board storage cylinders," said the report. "Cylinders to date of all steel construction have been heavy and bulky. Others with thin- walled steel or aluminum liners and composite overwrap are lighter than all- steel counterparts but generally are more expensive." The all-composite tank promises a weight savings up to 50 percent and an installed cost savings of 5 percent compared to steel cylinders. Relative to metal-lined fiberglass cylinders, it would save weight of 5 percent to 20 percent and costs of 30 percent to 120 percent.

Low pressure natural gas storage _ The objective is to develop an absorbent capable of delivering 150 cubic feet of natural gas per cubic foot of material at a pressure of 500 pounds per square inch. The technology would be used as an early entry commercialization of low pressure storage and to verify long term validity of low pressure systems.

Commercial natural gas vehicle cylinders _ The objective is to develop 3,000-pound-per-square-inch aluminum fully overwrapped cylinders up to 10 feet long with increased thermal and corro- sion protection. Existing aluminum cylinders are hoop wound and exposed on the dome ends, leaving them exposed to corrosive elements.

Dedicated natural gas-fueled vehi- cles _ The objective is to improve reduced storage pressures while increas- ing storage capacity with the use of absorbents, evaluate a full scale storage system with absorbents and assess the storage technologies of absorbed natural gas and compressed natural gas. …