Manufacturer 3M is ready to roll out a compressed natural gas storage tank that is cheaper, lighter and holds more fuel than similar tanks, the Minnesota-based company announced Tuesday.
“We are enthusiastic about the future of natural gas vehicles and are proud to introduce this tank to help companies take advantage of the benefits of natural gas as a transportation fuel,” 3M executive Mike Roman said in a news release.
“With a tank that will help provide more range and more payload capacity at less expense, CNG vehicles are now an even more attractive alternative for fleet and individual retail customers alike.”
3M's tank, created as part of a year-old partnership with Chesapeake Energy Corp., will be showcased next month at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.
3M and Chesapeake announced plans last February to collaborate in designing, manufacturing and marketing a broad portfolio of CNG tanks for use in all sectors of the U.S. transportation market
3M's new tanks initially will be available through five approved firms, including OEM Systems in Okarche. John Luber, OEM's director of CNG strategies, said it is an honor to be selected to work with 3M.
He said the new tanks are a huge step forward in making CNG conversions more affordable for fleets and families interested in switching to a cheaper fuel.
Luber said the 3M tank is supposed to be about 10 percent cheaper than standard tanks, taking $400 to $500 off the conversion price.
Chesapeake likely will be the first customer for the 3M tanks at OEM, he said.
OEM has a prototype now, with the first shipment of eight to 10 tanks expected in the next week or so.
Chesapeake has been working to convert its 5,000-vehicle fleet to CNG.
“The fuel tank has been the most expensive single component on a CNG vehicle, causing a bottleneck for the market,” said Nathan Pumphrey, Chesapeake's director of fleet operations. “3M's tank portfolio will lower the total cost of natural gas vehicle ownership and speed market adoption.
“We look forward to incorporating these tanks into our fleet vehicles to save money on our conversions; and with CNG available for as little as 99 cents per gasoline gallon equivalent in some markets, we'll cut our fueling costs, too.”
3M also is working with transportation providers that carry its products to use CNG.