It was in August 2020 when Mumbai-based Time Technoplast (TTL) announced that it had developed Type-IV carbon fibre composite cylinders. Since then, the company has bagged a Rs 41.6 crore order from a gas distributor for supplying its lightweight offering to be used in CNG cascades.
The current order book stands at about Rs 53.6 crore which it expects to execute in the current fiscal. TTL is also in talks with a host of OEMs for the product’s applications in buses, passenger cars and trucks.
According to officials, the cascades with Type-IV carbon fibre composite cylinders have a higher capacity than conventional metal cascades. Hence, they are a big help when it comes to CNG transportation in trucks and trailers.
To elaborate, a heavy vehicle fitted with a composite cylinder can carry nearly twice as much CNG vis-a-vis a metal cylinder. Type-IV CNG cascades are also lighter, explosion-proof and offer a long service life with no risk of corrosion or rusting. As a result, the operating cost is almost halved when using them.
CNG-run buses generally carry less gas due to metal cylinders being heavy but the Type-IV option allows them to travel longer distances without needing to refuel. Being the pioneer in this space, TTL is bullish on growth prospects and is eyeing orders of Rs 300-400 crore in a couple of years.
In a recent investor call, Raghupathy Thyagarajan, Director (Marketing), TTL, said city gas distribution companies are “overwhelmingly appreciating” the benefits of the new offering. OEMs, likewise, prefer lighter cylinders for their obvious benefits.
“Buses are able to increase their driving range as well as trucks. With CNG, mileage costs are substantially lower than petrol/diesel,” he added. Right now, there are barely five global manufacturers of CNG cascades with Type-IV carbon fibre composite cylinders. India produces Type 1 cylinders while superior ones are imported from Europe and the US.
TTL’s leadership believes that greater CNG penetration in the country will only boost demand for its Type-IV carbon fibre composite cylinders.
As Bharat Vageria, Director (Finance), indicated during the call, there were 2,200 CNG stations last year with over 8,000 more scheduled to be set up in the next decade.
"Each of these filling stations needs three cascades: one always available at the station, the other in transit and the third at the production level of the gas (each cascade has 60 cylinders),” he said. This business could be more than Rs 10,000 crore in the next eight to ten eight years.
According to a Nomura Research report, natural gas is likely to account for 50 percent of new three- and four-wheeler sales by 2030. The report adds that a strong network of 15,000 CNG and 1,500 LNG stations by 2030 will transform the mobility arena.
The biggest challenge is access to the fuel since 75 percent of CNG stations are concentrated in Delhi, Gujarat (including Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu), Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The obstacles in increasing the network lies in infrastructural issues which include ferrying of gas from the mother stations to other parts of the country.
Yet, there is no taking away the fact that natural gas will play a big role going forward both from the viewpoint of cleaner emissions as well as lower operating costs. The latter becomes even more important in these times when both petrol and diesel are seeing a steep price spiral.