Natural Gas-Compressing Engine


The Energy Systems Lab is part of the Energy Systems Engineering (ESE) program at OSU-Cascades and is focused on a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine research project, funded by a $1 million award from the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Researchers at the lab are making modifications to an automobile, specifically to the internal combustion engine, so that the vehicle can fuel itself with high pressure (3,600 psi) natural gas.

Dual Function Engine

Dual Function Engine

  • During commuting the internal combustion engine (ICE) fires on all cylinders as normal
  • During refueling the engine runs off of 5 cylinders and the 6th one is used to compress low pressure gas readily available in most homes.

Commute Mode

  • All cylinders combust as normal and power the vehicle
  • Vehicle runs off of natural gas stored in conventional 250 bar tank

Refueling  Mode

  • Vehicle connects to low pressure source of natural gas (NG), such as NG from a utility at home
  • 1 cylinder of the engine is reconfigured to compress NG rather than perform combustion
  • The ICE runs on the remaining 5 cylinders to power compression and provide cooling
  • Valving and intermediate tanks are used to allow the one cylinder to provide multi stage compression to 250 bar
  • Software controls entire system and ensures safe operation throughout the refueling operation. The ICE automatically shuts engine off when refueling is done.

Why do this research?

  • NG is about $1.75 less per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE)
  • NG is in ample supply domestically, decreases dependency on foreign oil
  • NG burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel fuel, so it is better for the environment
  • If that is the case why isn't NG commonly used as a transportation fuel now?
  • The "chicken and egg" problem; that is original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do not want to build CNG vehicles because there are not enough CNG refueling stations for the natual gas vehicles (NGVs) to use, and investors do not want to build CNG refueling stations, because there is not enough NGVs on the road to support the investment. This technology would avert the chicken and egg problem.

Why is this better than other home refueling solutions?

With the Dual Function CNG Engine your compressor is part of the vehicle and always with you. You can refuel at home or wherever there is NG, such as work or a friend’s home. A large draw for consumers from gasoline vehicles is the convenience of a multitude of possible refueling locations. The Dual Function CNG Engine will be able to compete with that convenience. Other home refueling solutions, such as the Phil in home compressor, can only refuel at its fixed location, e.g., your home.

ARPA- E (The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy): OSU-Cascades Gas-Compressing Engine