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3M, Chesapeake Energy Partner to Create CNG Tank Technology

3M and Chesapeake Energy Corp. will collaborate in designing, manufacturing and marketing a broad portfolio of compressed natural gas tanks for use in all sectors of the U.S. transportation market, starting with commercial vehicles.

3M’s CNG tank solution combines the company’s proprietary liner advancements, thermoplastic materials, barrier films and coatings, and damage-resistant films to transform the pressure vessel industry. Using nanoparticle-enhanced resin technology, 3M Matrix Resin for Pressure Vessels, 3M will create CNG tanks that are 10% to 20% lighter with 10% to 20% greater capacity, all at a lower cost than standard vessels.

The new CNG tanks developed through the 3M and Chesapeake partnership will reduce costs while increasing performance. Less expensive tanks will enable greater market adoption of CNG as an alternative automotive fuel source.

“This partnership brings together two leading companies from different sectors, both committed to advancing the natural gas transportation fuel market,” says Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake’s CEO. “We applaud 3M for recognizing the future of natural gas as a low-cost, cleaner alternative to gasoline, and for creating innovative tank technology that will make natural gas vehicles more affordable and accessible to fleets and individual consumers nationwide.”

Chesapeake has pledged an initial $10 million toward design and certification services, market development support and a commitment to use the new tanks for its corporate fleet conversion to CNG. The company’s investment will be provided by Chesapeake NG Ventures Corp., established in 2011 to identify and invest in companies and technologies that will replace the use of gasoline and diesel derived primarily from foreign oil.

CNGV has committed $1 billion over the next 10 years to help fund various initiatives to increase demand for natural gas, including investments totaling $300 million in Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and privately-held Sundrop Fuels, Inc.

3M has engaged Hypercomp Engineering, Inc. of Utah for the design and certification of tanks. 3M will manufacture the tanks and focus its capital on all future operations and production. 3M expects the tanks to be available for sale during the fourth quarter of 2012.

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