Natural Gas Car Fuel Counterpoint

Compared to gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG) is cleaner, less expensive, and generally comes from domestic reserves. However, CNG vehicles also require some compromises, including the use of a special refueling infrastructure that is not widely developed in the United States. Natural gas burns so cleanly that CNG vehicles rival hybrids in producing extremely low levels of smog-forming pollutants. However, CNG vehicles tend to have higher greenhouse gas emissions than hybrids. Natural gas is normally used in the U.S. to generate electricity, heat houses and businesses, and as a component in a variety of industrial processes. In the United States, a very small amount of natural gas (just one-tenth of 1% of all gas consumed) is also used as a fuel for vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, just 20 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States last year was imported, and most of those imports came from Canada.

Natural gas advantages:

  1. Gas costs are lower than gasoline (approximately 1/3).
  2. Natural gas is convenient and abundant.
  3. Natural gas prices have exhibited significant stability compared to oil prices.
  4. Natural gas vehicles have lower maintenance costs.
  5. Natural gas fillup time is longer for natural gas (approx 1 hr).

Natural gas disadvantages:

  1. Harder to find a natural gas station than a “regular” gas station.
  2. More limited driving range (approximately 2/3).
  3. Natural gas is not inexhaustible just like “regular” gas.
  4. Because of the fuel storage tank size there is less space in the vehicle.
  5. A brand-new natural-gas vehicle costs $4,000 to $8,000 more than a comparable gasoline vehicle.
  6. Modifications typically cost $3,000 to $5,000 to change over a vehicle.

No one seems to care about the natural gas vehicle. Not government officials. Not auto executives. Not consumers. Not even some environmentalists.T. Boone Pickens is now talking about a plan for natural gas vehicles.

By an odd confluence of public policy and private initiative, Utah has become the first state in the country to experience broad consumer interest in the idea of running cars on clean natural gas (natural gas at $.90 vs $3.95 for gas).

From the facts it appears that natural gas has very little chance as a car fuel. However read this article:

Should the U.S. switch to Natural gas for transportation?

Some more interesting articles for facts:

  1. Natural gas organization.
  2. Wikipedia on natural gas.
  3. This auto fuel still cheaper.
  4. Five things you need to know about natural gas for auto fueling.
  5. Natural-gas guzzler.
  6. Plunge in Natural Gas Prices; new 7-year low

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