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Chrysler testing lung-like CNG tanks

by David Zatz on

Chrysler may be looking at the human lung for the design of new fuel tanks for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Enrico Pisino, Chrysler Group’s Senior Manager of Innovation, said, “Within the human lung are countless individual sacks called alveoli. These sacks combine to expand the lung’s total air capacity. We are using this same approach to improve the packaging of CNG tanks.”


The research is partly sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Council’s Technology Innovation Challenge, which put in $50,000.

CNG costs around $1 per gallon-equivalent less than gasoline, but requires much larger fuel tanks to achieve the same range; current tanks have to be cylindrical in shape, as well, due to the high pressure.  Chrysler Group’s patent-pending technology aims to address both issues.

The Ram 2500 CNG pickup is the industry’s only factory-built CNG-powered pickup, rolling off the same assembly line as conventionally powered vehicles. Available for both retail and fleet sale, the Ram 2500 CNG truck uses a V8 engine; when CNG is depleted (and during cold startup), the system automatically switches to gasoline. The truck can travel 255 miles on CNG and a total of 745 miles when ordered with an available 35-gallon reserve gas tank.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the company produced dedicated CNG-powered full-size vans, minivans and pickup trucks. Chrysler Group’s strategic partner, Fiat S.p.A, is a world leader in CNG-powered vehicle production.

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