Compressed natural gas (CNG) has rarely been the fuel of choice for heavy-duty vehicles, due to its limited range and high cost compared with diesel fuel. However, the market is changing, thanks to a greater number of natural gas reserves, improved technology for CNG fuel storage and an expanded infrastructure of refueling systems.
Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies, in Lake Forest, a leader in natural-gas systems and clean-propulsion-vehicle technologies, is responding to these changing conditions.
With a significant increase in new orders of the company’s natural gas on-board fuel storage tanks in 2012, Quantum recently
announced a major expansion in production.
This year, Quantum is breaking ground on a new 60,000-square-foot facility, located next to its existing 30,000-square-foot factory. Production will increase beginning in March, with continued output ramping up throughout the first six months of the year. Once complete, this expansion will double Quantum’s production capacity and add an estimated 30 manufacturing jobs to the Orange County market.
“The pure economics of converting fleets from diesel to natural gas now makes sense,” says Brad Timon, Quantum’s CFO. “We expect the gap between natural gas and diesel prices to remain large for the next few years.”
The potential market for natural gas vehicles is enormous. Every year in the U.S., big rigs and single-unit commercial trucks burn some 35 billion gallons of diesel fuel. Converting even a small number of these trucks to natural gas could lead to significant fuel savings while lowering emissions.
Quantum’s CNG storage tanks are specifically designed for heavy-duty trucking.
“Quantum’s high-capacity tanks are 30 to 70 percent lighter than any other tank on the market today, providing remarkable advantages in installation, vehicle handling and fuel economy,” says Brian Olson, president and CEO of Quantum.
The company recently announced the launch of its own preassembled natural-gas-storage modules and system assemblies, which are used on a variety of vehicle platforms. This will enable Quantum to capture an additional market share of the expanding natural-gas-storage market.