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OSU-Cascades grant could bring cheaper driving

By Matt McDonald
Published On: Aug 03 2012 07:37:04 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Matt McDonald talks to an OSU-Cascades professor who just got a big federal grant to look at ways to fuel your car with cheaper natural gas.

Gas is never cheap, but there may be an alternative, if researchers can work out the kinks. Now, OSU-Cascades has a grant to see if they can find a way to alter a typical car engine.

The goal is to be able to use the natural gas in your house and plug it into your existing engine, running the whole thing for about $1.50 a gallon.

"Were trying to make it so you can fuel and compress natural gas at your home, using your car," said Chris Hagen, an assistant professor at OSU-Cascades who just landed a $700,000 federal grant to answer that question.

The Department of Energy grant will keep Hagen and a team of students busy for the next two years. That could mean a big savings for all of us.

Hagen said, "$1.50 to $2.00 a gallon of gas equivalent. So basically, if we can modify a vehicle to fill itself, the return on the investment is pretty quick."

The idea is to take your existing engine, and convert part of it to compress and store natural gas. You could fill up at home, with a line from your existing natural gas connection.

"From a global perspective, the emissions are pretty good, and the mileage is pretty good," said Hagen.

His project is one of 13 being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy across the nation. To date, it's one of the largest research awards to come to OSU-Cascades.

The grant requires Hagen's team to do more than just figure out the technology. They also have to try and figure out how to bring their solution to the market in an affordable way.

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