CleanNG's fuel tank has promising future
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2012
11/17/12 at 5:18 AM
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CleanNG has yet to put its product into the marketplace, but the Tulsa startup already has gained worldwide recognition for its new-concept compressed natural gas tank.
Global Entrepreneurship Week honored CleanNG LLC as one of its top 50 startups, beating out most of nearly 400 applicants in 17 countries. Business channel CNBC also featured CleanNG as one of "the world's most promising companies."
"We have so much momentum going right now," co-founder and Chief Operations Officer Michael Tate said Friday. "It's really been a motivational push in our direction."
CleanNG is developing a lighter, more pressurized natural gas tank that could help overcome driving range limitations for CNG vehicles.
Tate, CEO Matt Villarreal and Chief Marketing Officer Jacob Cawley started the company while students at Oklahoma State University in 2010. They moved it to Tulsa earlier this year to be closer to its research and development partner, OSU-Tulsa's Helmerich Advanced Technology Research Center.
The company's first product, the MagmaCel Fuel Storage System, eschews heavy metal and liners to increase space and pressure capacity within the CNG tank. The tank's main material is a composite called basalt fiber, made from lava rock.
"It's an old technology that got abandoned (years ago) so people could explore more in carbon fiber," Tate said.
The MagmaCel system is in the testing phase. CleanNG hopes to sell its first units early next year.
"Historically, two of the largest challenges to wider adoption of CNG as a transportation fuel have been the space taken up by the fuel tanks and the additional weight they add to the vehicle," Villarreal said. "Our innovative design is a huge step forward in overcoming these challenges."
Tulsa is considered a home to fledgling CNG companies. Tulsa Gas Technologies, which converts vehicles to run on CNG and also builds fueling stations, has customers worldwide.
"Oklahoma is quickly gaining a reputation as a hub for CNG innovation because of the state tax incentives encouraging the use of CNG and the manufacturing capabilities in the area," Tate said.
Global Entrepreneurship Week was started five years ago by then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. The event now includes 115 nations and 24,000 organizations, according to the GEW website.
Original Print Headline: Firm's CNG tank fuels hopes
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
CleanNG co-founder and CEO Matt Villarreal displays the MagmaCel Fuel Storage System, which could increase the driving range of vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. Courtesy