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Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

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  • Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

    I have a 'what if' that I'd like to bounce off of everyone: If a person wanted to open a retail CNG site on the cheap, any thoughts as to what would be the cheapest yet most effective fast-fill set up?

    Reason I ask is that I've been asked to add CNG to a handful of new E-blend/B-blend stations my brother and I are standing up in Illinois. I'm all for it - actually I'd love to, but only if we can swing the additional cost. I don't think we can, but I'm kind of hoping of being convinced otherwise and hence my research.

    If I do this, I foresee initally VERY LITTLE throughput - a couple cars of per hour MAYBE, with maybe a small peak in the morning and again at quitting time. But I also see the customer base growing and see a future need to expand capacity. Is there a 'bare bones' set-up that could be accomplished dirt cheap, comparably-speaking, and then added to as the need arises and/or cash available for it?

  • #2
    Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

    Short answer: no.

    You'll need a pretty big investment just to fill those couple of cars per hour. Make sure you have that sales before investing. Contact local fleet owners. Get letters of intent to make sure they buy NGVs when you open that station.

    It's possible to expand an existing station when needed. Or move the installation to another location and replace it by a bigger one.

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    • #3
      Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

      Thanks, Gerben. That's what I'm thinking too, though I continue to research online hoping to find a different answer.

      From what I've seen of it, I like the Galileo NanoBox for meeting what we're after - 'cept for the fact that it's beyond our budget at the moment ...

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      • #4
        Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

        Without a built in customer base the Fuel Maker 'Mini Public' refueling set up is the way to go. It comes with 8gge/[email protected] and 65gge storage, card reader and station. It is capable of 18-24 vehicles a day and can be expanded by daisy chaining more compressors and/or storage when the time for expansion arrives. Oil-less and low cost. With the fuel dealers incentives, right now is a half price sale and the max cap may increase when congress gets to the NAT GAS ACT in Septermber. I would estimate an intial investment of $250k including construction and installation before the tax incentives. Thats possibly up to $100k credit at tax time bringing the investment to $150k for a commercial refueling station plus the $0.50gge subsidy and depreciation. Costs will vary by region and greed. Talk to your Fuel Maker dealer. The new FM is making product available again, soon.

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        • #5
          Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

          $ 250k for a station with enough capacity for only 18-24 cars/day is way too much. I doubt the Galileo system is that expensive.
          I heared Aspro is developing a similar package that can fill about 70-100 cars/day. Expected price ex. works should be about US$ 150k (in Europe). (Though I'm not sure it will be available in the US.)
          $250k should be enough to build a full scale station. Especially if you build multiple identical systems.

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          • #6
            Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

            I would take a serious look at putting in a couple of these new compressors from Phoenix Energy in Alabama:
            http://www.phoenixenergycorp.net/vertecon.html

            Requires 3-phase power if you have it.

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            • #7
              Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

              Well if you are talking product only it is about half that. I was including the construction and install. Construction can get pretty costly for commercial. Every job is different.

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              • #8
                Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

                Ok let's compare compressor to compressor. The Q7-42 is basically the equvalent of the 7.5 Vertecon and they are priced very close to the same.

                The "Mini-Public system" I have been refering to has "2" Q-7s, storage, dryer, card reader and station (hose facility). The complete set up. What do you think a system should cost that is tied into your cash register and credit system? Buying a compressor is just the first step if that is what is being looked at.

                Again, FM has an oil-less system that will not contaminate vehicle fuel systems- ever. Station maintenance is notorious for lack of maintaining the compressors. You can read all about the clogged filters here on cngchat. FM eliminated the oil for that reason.

                I want to make sure we are all talking apples to apples here. A single compressor is not comparable to a complete system.

                Also, if the old technology compressor breaks down, your dead in the water until the technician can get there and do the repairs. FM has a 4 compressor module in the Q7-42, Q8-36. The 4 compressors start sequentially. Lose one (or more) and the others keep operating. (albeit at a lower volume) A compressor head replacement is about an hour of labor. This is an important factor when you can't afford to be dead-in-the-water and factor in the labor involved.

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                • #9
                  Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

                  Illini,
                  Since you'll already have the infrastructure (station property, utilities, islands, pump control and charge hardware and software) in place, those numbers aren't realistic for you. Why not just start with a portable unit(s) to get things started.
                  I have an 8' x 16' enclosed trailer unit with storage and dispenser built in and can build several more if needed.
                  If business doesn't catch on, move it to a new location. But, if business does take off, upgrade to a permenent unit and move the portable to a new startup location. We've done a few plans for independent gas station owners before in your boat and have several possible solutions to get your feet wet.
                  PM or email me with your contact info.
                  Your Friendly Nazi Squirrel Administrator

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                  • #10
                    Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

                    http://www.aqmd.gov/hb/2009/January/09016a.htm

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                    • #11
                      Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

                      Originally posted by Amfuel View Post
                      The "Mini-Public system" I have been refering to has "2" Q-7s, storage, dryer, card reader and station (hose facility).
                      ...
                      Station maintenance is notorious for lack of maintaining the compressors. You can read all about the clogged filters here on cngchat.
                      2 Q 7's of 4 compressors each means 8 compressors, which have to be refurbished every 4k hours. Maintaining 1 larger compressor is cheaper even if you do it properly. Also the power consumption will be lower.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Inexpensive CNG Retailing Possible?

                        That would be about every 30,000gge on a rebuild and 28amp draw when running. So you can do some comparison shopping.

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