UDRI will lead the initiative for the development of compressed-gas storage vessels for the automotive and trucking industry. “The demand for compressed natural gas as a lower-cost, cleaner-burning alternative to diesel and gasoline fuel for vehicles continues to grow,” said Brian Rice, who heads the Research Institute’s multi-scale composites and polymers division and will serve as director for the compressed-gas storage initiative. “In order for natural gas fuel to be efficiently and safely used to power vehicles, the transportation industry needs an affordable, lightweight but high-strength compressed-gas fuel tank. Our team will work to design and develop tanks and manufacturing processes that can be mass produced at low cost while minimizing energy use and waste production.”

Workforce training

Rice said the research and development through the initiative will target semi-trailer trucks first, followed by commercial box trucks and, eventually, automobiles.

Besides developing materials and manufacturing processes, the compressed-gas storage initiative team will also work to develop jobs to meet the workforce created by the initiative, as well as to educate and train workers to fill them.