Lockheed Martin Draws On Space Shuttle Expertise to Produce LNG Fuel Tanks for Ships

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March 12, 2013

Lockheed Martin says it will rely on its 37 year history of making Space Shuttle external tanks for NASA to help develop the new fuel tanks to be used on ships, trains and trucks.

Lockheed Martin on Tuesday announced plans to develop and manufacture liquified natural gas fuel tanks for initial use on ships as the defense and aerospace contractor looks to leverage its expertise in the manufacture of Space Shuttle external tanks and capitalize on the rapidly growing demand for LNG as a transport fuel.

The company has already received initial orders for two such tanks from Finnish engine-maker Wärtsilä, which are to be used in medium-sized ocean supply ships. The first tanks are to be produced at Lockheed Martin’s leased space at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the equipment can be adapted meet the needs of the commercial LNG tanks.

“Louisiana is at the forefront of the natural gas boom, and we are proud that Lockheed Martin has selected Louisiana to pursue new practical applications and technologies that harness this growing energy source,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. “Their investment in our state demonstrates the confidence they have in our world-class infrastructure, our strong business climate, and our incomparable workforce.”

“Our entry into the LNG tank market is a prime example of how Lockheed Martin is leveraging capabilities and technologies developed for government programs to meet the needs of private sector customers who drive our nation’s economy,” said Gerry Fasano, president of Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions-Defense. “We look forward to a long term relationship with the State of Louisiana and the greater New Orleans area and to bringing quality employment opportunities to the community.”

As part of its longer-range LNG business plan, Lockheed Martin says it plans to manufacture the tanks for a wide range of LNG supply chain applications, including for use on gas powered trains and trucks and for storage. All tanks are to be manufactured to the same ASME standards for pressurized storage and transportation of cryogenic materials using the quality and safety standards implemented for the shuttle tank program.

“The LNG opportunity is a particularly compelling example of how we can leverage defense- and space-related technology for applications in the private sector,” added Fasano. “Initiatives such as this help exploit the economic advantages of natural gas, while simultaneously helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

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