A major sticking point for automakers investigating compressed natural gas, or CNG vehicles are the large (and expensive) fuel tanks that store comparatively little fuel. Chrysler may have come up with the solution, using a series of smaller tanks inside a larger tank to mimic the human lung, resulting in smaller tanks with more fuel.
Currently the only way to store CNG is in high-pressure cylinder-shaped storage tanks that take up a lot of room for comparatively little fuel. Because CNG is less energy-dense than gasoline, it requires more fuel to go the same distance, compounding the problem and making CNG conversions very expensive for less range than conventional gas cars. On vehicles like the Ram 2500 CNG, the conversion costs some $11,000 extra for less than 400 miles of driving on only CNG, while taking up about 40% of the bed space, leaving just 5 out of the 8 feet for actual usage.
That’s where this new design comes in. By mimicking the human lung’s ability to store a lot of air in millions of tiny alveoli, Chrysler has created a tank design that can be oddly-shaped, fitting a wider variety of vehicles and configurations and eliminating the need for space-consuming cylinders. This breakthrough could make CNG conversions and factory vehicles a lot more appealing to both consumers and automakers.
Unfortunately, Chrysler is remaining tight-lipped about any future applications of the technology. More likely than not, a Ram pickup will get this technology first, but as far as cars go the Dodge Charger or Chrysler 300 could be the vanguard for a new wave of CNG vehicles.
Source: Automotive News