SALT LAKE CITY — What's being billed as the nation's second largest liquefied and compressed natural gas station celebrated its grand opening Tuesday on the grounds of the Flying J Travel Center, allowing Utah to take its place along a new multistate corridor.

The station will allow long-haul trucks to fuel up on liquefied natural gas, which is natural gas supercooled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit that burns up to 50 percent cleaner than diesel.

It marks the first time in Utah the fuel will be sold, enabling carriers to store more energy on board in a smaller volume. According to the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, the super cooling method reduces the volume of natural gas by a factor of more than 600 — comparable to taking a beach ball down to the size of a ping pong ball. Utah's station joins more than 100 production, storage or transport facilities across the country.

Those stations are designed to meet a growing trend in the fleet industry of companies turning to liquefied natural gas as a fuel source. Last month, UPS purchased another 48 heavy tractor trucks to run on that fuel. The company is also working with the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program to construct a liquefied natural gas station in Las Vegas that will augment the corridor in which Utah is connected.

The $3 million station at 2025 S. 900 West will also fast-fill compressed natural gas to the public.

Just last week, the state's Division of Air Quality announced a list of recipients of grants and loans to help seven entities either purchase natural gas vehicles or add refueling stations along the Wasatch Front.

Grants include: Salt Lake City, $82,500 for the purchase of three CNG refuse trucks; University of Utah commuter services, $32,000 for the purchase of two CNG transit buses; ACE Disposal, $55,000, for six CNG refuse haulers; Semi Service, $55,000 for a refueling station and Kennecott Utah Copper, $25,000 to convert five vehicles to CNG.

Semi Service also received $100,000 in a loan for the conversion of eight vehicles to CNG and to put in its refueling station and Uintah Gas Fireplace & BBQs was awarded a $50,000 loan for a refueling station.

The new Salt Lake City station was funded in part through nearly $15 million federal stimulus money given to the Utah Clean Cities Coalition to promote more alternative fuel vehicles, develop the infrastructure and provide jobs.

"We are very excited that after many years of trying, we are finally able to bring this LNG fuel to the public," said Carrie Giles, northern director of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition.