Smart dispensers capable to monitor and record in real-time the main operating parameters (pressure, temperature, flows, etc.), while, in turn, to detect and inform the operator about operating condition deviations or process dynamics anomalies. The advantages associated to this advanced technology is a reduction of the operating cost of about 5% due to reduction of the downtime, minimize the presence of personnel for charging operations and optimize stock levels.
Reliable & cost-effective systems to measure the actual fuel discharge from supply trucks
ECO-GATE aims to test and evaluate different technologies capable to measure in real-time the fuel discharge from the LNG supply tanks in an accurate and cost-effective way. Most of the current solutions are based on the measurement of liquid level in the tank using pressure difference relations between the vapour and liquid phases, which can cause measurement errors arising from internal pressure differences and from conversion calculation to know the amount of the LNG. ECO-GATE aims to evaluate the performance of the new solutions for the LNG market, such as advanced truck meters and gauge sensors on tanks, against different type of tanks and discharge processes or methodologies.
Advanced Modular & Standard Refuelling Infrastructures
The use of modules allows easier installation procedures (kind of plug & play) and flexibility to demand variation. Thus, this type of stations is very useful in areas with low LNG/CNG demand or demand on initial stage. The modular design allows an easily scalable refuelling station to match demand, and therefore the initial investment is much lower than with conventional technologies. Moreover, the standard modules allow a more effective manufacturing, installation and operation processes, thereby reducing capital and operational expenditures. The use of this type of station is not new in the road transport sector. BESTWay (2014-EU-TM-0729-S) or CEF Action (2014-UK-TM-0388-S) have already evaluated or tested modular concepts. Based on the results of BESTWay, ECO-GATE proposes advanced designs capable to reduce further the investment and operational costs to about 10-15%. The figure below shows indicative example of a potential modular concept.
Adsorbent Natural Gas (ANG) Solutions
The use of ANG allows facilities to store significantly more natural gas at lower pressures. As a matter of fact, ANG tanks can store three to five times the amount of natural/bio-methane in an ANG tank compared to a conventional compressed natural gas tank at the same pressures.
The development of a measurement installation is essential for a correct characterization of natural gas accumulation systems by adsorption, which is a fundamental part of the good design of an ANG system. Once the installation is defined, a test plan is defined for the correct characterization of the adsorbents, both in static (storage) and dynamic (loading and unloading) conditions.
Zero vent facilities & no product loss
ECO-GATE aims to test several Boil-Off Gas (BOG) technologies to reduce and recover the BOG produced in LNG storage tanks with the aim to obtain zero vent facilities and zero product loss in a cost-effective way. It should be noted that the gas loses can represent about 10.000€ per year, assuming gas losses of about 35.000 Nm3 due to BOG issues. According to this estimate, this equals to an annual methane savings, in toe and CO2, of 35,88 toe and of 82.479,04 CO2. Most of the methods and solutions that will be implemented aim to recover BOG and reused in a cost-effective way: a) reused as CNG and b) reused as LNG. However, ECO-GATE will also test a new BOG system with solar panels that aims to produce electricity for the station in a sustainable way, while reducing the electricity costs. Taking into account the energy costs of an LNG / CNG filling station, these costs will be annulled with the use of the Boil-off recovery system and the production of electricity, resulting in estimated annual savings of 6.874,44 € per year.
Predictive demand analyser cloud platform
Predictive demand analyser cloud platform capable to reduce costs to about 4 to 8% due to stock optimization, while indirectly will also allow to reduce logistic costs to about 2 to 6% due to the predictive demand analyser. The system is designed for refuelling operators and will provide assistance to decision-making in management of product stock determining the expected demand through the data gathered and analysed. It should be stressed out that, currently, there no similar systems addressing this problem in an integrated way or it has not been yet identified. The systems will also allow gaining deeper and better knowledge on client behaviour and obtaining strategical information about the station operation.
Operator control & management IT tool
Operator control & management IT tool for efficient and integrated management and control of all business processes and logistic chain related to the operation and maintenance of the refuelling stations. The system manages and control several parameters related to customer service and sales, asset management, supply chain, operation and financial, as well as business process (process adaptations, process integrations, security and traceability and life cycle management, among others). As integrates all these parameters in a unique platform allow to simplify and reduce complex process, improves control, real time information of all processes, automatization, and flexibility to changes and improve or allows interoperability of the different systems that accompany the operation and maintenance of the station.
Asset management could platform
Asset management cloud platform will allow reducing O&M costs around 5 to 10%. The platform is capable to plan and control the maintenance of infrastructure assets or an industrial process based on criticality (decision making based on criticality). The system will be based on the ISO 55000. It should be noted that most of current refueling stations are not even using software for these issues, and some have several separated systems for the different maintenances issues. Furthermore, cloud modality will allow to compare, in anonym way, the Key Performance Indicators from each operator (benchmarking) and thereby, providing a way to improve continuously.
Universal IT platform
The identification and access systems are different for every NG refuelling operator and often out of date (keys, RIFD card, “loyalties cards). The system itself is different for every operator. An obvious advantage to simplify the use of gas vehicles across the country will be to develop a standardized access to the different charging points. This system was developed and introduced in the market by BESTWay (2014-EU-TM-0729-S) CEF Transport action. However, currently only two operators are testing this new system. ECO-GATE aims to extend this platform through other operators from the consortia aiming to improve and deploy interoperable LNG/CNG refuelling stations that guarantee its public access to any end user (public or private). A universal system—or a close to universal solution —may eventually emerge lowering range anxiety for drivers and raising customer comfort while, at the same time, lowering the costs to provide several RFID cards for personal authentication
The aim is to define the novel mixtures of conventional natural gas with bio-methane so that they can be used directly in current NGVs without falling in reliability, while in turn they contribute to minimize the CO2, NOX and PM emissions. Additionally, all the requirements and specifications required for the pilot engineering and construction and for conducting the real-life trials will be defined here.
The aim is to define the novel mixtures of conventional natural gas with hydrogen so that they can be used directly in current NGVs without falling in reliability, while in turn they contribute to minimize the CO2, NOX and PM emissions. Additionally, all the requirements and specifications required for the pilot engineering and construction and for conducting the real-life trials will be defined here. Moreover, GNM and ENAGAS will be involved in the novel mixtures based on bio-methane and AUDIGNA on the mixtures of HCNG.
Advanced and cost-effective transformation tools and equipment
Finally, ECO-GATE also aims to contribute to accelerate the NGVs growth and market acceptance by introducing advanced and cost-effective transformation tools and equipment to convert conventional vehicles into natural gas vehicles and thereby, reducing the investment efforts from the transport companies at initial market stage, while providing them the chance to evaluate the potential benefits of natural gas as alternative fuel. Furthermore, it should be highlighted that the new solutions are focused, on the one hand, on increasing the efficiency of duel-fuel systems by being more flexible to change in natural gas quality and, on the other hand, by introducing ANG tanks with the advantages previously mentioned regarding lower storage pressure as well as offers flexible design options. Low pressure ANG storage systems enables smaller and more comfortable tank designs with thinner walls than traditional CNG tanks. This provides vehicle designers and retrofitters greater flexibility when designing tanks to fit the available space on the vehicle. Greater flexibility on fuel tank location and configuration means usable storage space on the vehicle doesn’t need to be sacrificed to accommodate the tank.