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Designing a CNG Station

There are a few key questions that must be answered in order to appropriately size and design an NGV refueling station properly. It is important to arm yourself with as much information as possible before embarking on this project. Below are some of the questions that must be addressed in order to help us size and design your station.

Questions to Ask When Planning Your NGV Refueling Station

  1. What types of vehicles will be refueled at this station? Is it going to be school buses or municipal vehicles, or is it more likely to be light duty vehicles?
    • No matter what type of vehicle you are planning to refuel, it is important to understand that it affects the design of your station. As long as you know your vehicle type, you can adjust your design to fit all of your needs.
  2. What is the number of vehicles that will be refueling at this site? And how much gasoline does each vehicle require?
    • Knowing the answer to both of these questions will help determine how much natural gas needs to be delivered to your site. It is important to know this so that you are always running as smoothly and effectively as possible. In order to know how much gasoline is required to run a vehicle, we use a simple calculation of 125 scf to every gallon of gasoline. Therefore we know that a vehicle that requires 12 gallons of gasoline will require 1,500 scf of natural gas to fill it. Knowing this, along with how many vehicles will be refueling, will help dramatically in determining your station load requirements.
  3. Is there a specific time frame for the refuel of the vehicles and what is that time frame?
    • It is important to know how many vehicles will be refueling and at what times. These are key questions to ask when thinking about the sizing of the station. Depending on if vehicles will all refuel at one time, or just a few every few hours, this knowledge will help determine the size of your station.
  4. Decide how fast your vehicles need to be refueled.
    • Knowing if your vehicles need to be fast-filled or can take time to fill will help with the design of your station. If vehicles can all fill slowly or overnight it is a much different design than having to fill them fast to get back on the road or job.
  5. Do you need to account for the amount of CNG in each vehicle, or is it an overall total?
    • If you need to know the amount of CNG used in each vehicle than other systems will need to be added to your station. We can add a dispenser and card-lock system to determine the amount of fuel going into each individual vehicle, but it is good to know if this is needed in advance. If the overall total is all that is needed, these added features are not necessary. Knowing these factors in advance will help us give you the best projected overall cost of the station.
  6. Is this station going to be used for public fueling or by a private fleet?
    • This question ties into the previous question in helping to determine if you need to know the amount of CNG for each individual vehicle. If you are a station for public fueling, you will need to know how much fuel each vehicle needs in order to bill the customer appropriately.
  7. How much will the demands and use of the station grow in the future?
    • It helps to know at the beginning of the project whether or not growth is in your future. Planning ahead means that the appropriate conduit size is used from the beginning. That way, growth will be easier as your demand increases.
  8. What are the available utilities at the site where you wish to install your station?
    • Your local gas company can provide you with necessary information in your planning. It is important to ask them the available gas pressure at the site, as well as determine the gas quality. It is also important to ask about the moisture content of the gas. This will determine how to properly size an inlet dryer. Finding out what electrical service is available at the site is also very important. The correct motor must be provided based on the voltage of the location.
  9. What is the operating pressure for your vehicles?
    • Most NGV’s store onboard gas at 3,600 psi, but some older vehicles operate at 3,000 psi. It is rare to operate at 3,000 psi, but it is still important to confirm your required fill pressure.

Once you are armed with all of the information from above, contact NGFS so we can build a project to properly suit your needs. We provide each of our clients with knowledge and suggestions to help with cost and efficiency. We can help you do the same with your station.

Pre-Construction Considerations for CNG Stations

  1. Make sure to get guidance on local code requirements and permitting processes by contacting your local Building Inspector or Fire Marshall. They can provide you with valuable information.
  2. Make sure to review the NFPA-52 guidelines for Compressed Natural Gas Vehicular Fuel Systems Code, which applies to the requirements for design and installation of CNG refueling stations. It is published by the National Fire Prevention Association and can help you determine your requirements.
  3. Contact your natural gas provider ask a few questions. These questions should include confirmation that the gas flow needed by the station can be handled by the existing gas line, the gas pressure available at your site, and the moisture content and gas quality available.
  4. Get in touch with your electric company to make sure that there is electrical service available at your site, and to make sure that it can support the needs of the station.
  5. Contact NGFS to help you find a qualified contractor to install your NGV refueling station. Not all contractors have the knowledge or ability to install a station. Let us help you get the best for your money, and avoid hassle along the way.