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Energy Company Invests $2.1 Million in Conformable Tank Technology

Michigan Technological University and REL, a Calumet-based technology company with a focus on material-process development, have been awarded a $2.1 million, three-year investment from Southwestern Energy Company (SWN) of Houston, Texas. The grant charges an interdisciplinary team of Michigan Tech researchers and REL engineers with designing, fabricating and testing a conformable CNG tank for use in light duty trucks. The goal is to place the tank under the bed of the truck. Engineers from Michigan Tech and REL have been tasked with designing a tank that fits around existing vehicle components, can withstand the pressure of CNG, and can be easily and inexpensively fabricated. The research will then shift to optimizing the material used for the tank. If existing materials don’t have sufficient properties, new aluminum alloys may be developed.