CNG Cars Can Go the Distance and Be Affordable, Says Lobbying Group

Natural Gas Bi fuels

Just the Facts

  • Natural gas backers are launching a drive to persuade automakers to build compressed-natural-gas fueled cars and trucks.
  • Six custom-built CNG vehicles are on display now in Washington, D.C., and builders say production versions would not cost much more than standard gasoline vehicles.
  • Fuel can cost less than $1 a gallon-equivalent when produced at home.

 

WESTCHESTER, California — A natural gas lobbying group is launching a national effort today to persuade automakers and lawmakers to get off the gasoline and turn to natural gas as a significant fuel for new passenger vehicles in the U.S.

Natural gas advocates say that increased use of the suddenly plentiful fuel — made so by the opening of huge domestic reserves that can be exploited through an extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — can help the country cut its dependence on imported oil while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving consumers millions of dollars in fuel costs.

But all that doesn’t matter if no one can afford the cars — of if they don’t offer the levels of performance, convenience and utility American buyers expect.

The big selling point of the Alliance program is that properly designed CNG-gasoline “bi-fuel” vehicles can be “no-compromise” cars and trucks that don’t sacrifice performance or storage space and don’t have exorbitant price tags, said Eric Noble, a consultant for the American Natural Gas Alliance-backed project.

Noble’s company, CarLab Inc., built four bi-fuel cars and SUVs that borrowed their operating philosophy from the new generation of plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles: use the alternative fuel for most daily driving chores but keep plenty of gasoline on board for extended trips and to avoid the danger of being stranded if the alternative fuel can’t be found.

To drive home those points the Alliance recently gave Edmunds.com and several other news organizations an advance look at six purpose-built bi-fuel cars, vans and trucks at a Southern California Gas Co. pumping facility on a hill overlooking a vast underground natural gas storage field just north of Los Angeles International Airport.

The same vehicles were rolled out in Washington, D.C., this week in a bid to wow legislators and people attending the annual ACT Expo.

“The cars in this program are the first step on the path to [mass] production,” said Barry Carr, an ANGA member and business development director for Landirenzo USA, the North American arm of a major Italian producer of CNG bi-fuel systems for automakers and aftermarket conversion companies.

Landirenzo, which built two cars for the ANGA demonstration, also makes systems for Fiat, General Motors, Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan and others in Europe, he said, and is doing aftermarket systems in the U.S. for Ford and GM trucks.

CNG could account for up to 80 percent of the average car owner’s annual mileage in a properly designed bi-fuel vehicle, Carr said. Natural gas fuel can cost well under a dollar a gallon when produced on home-based compression and pumping systems being developed by companies including Whirlpool.

Natural gas is a widely used passenger vehicle fuel in parts of Europe and South America and there are more than 15 million natural gas vehicles worldwide, said Kathryn Clay, executive director of the Drive Natural Gas Initiative and an ANGA member.

“But less than 1 percent of them are in the U.S., despite our big natural gas production,” she said.

Noble, whose Orange, California-based company built four of the six demonstration vehicles in the program, provided detailed cost sheets that showed the market price of every screw, fitting and supply line used in the conversions.

CNG costs vary from region to region based on the cost of the electricity used to compress the gas and the regional price of the gas itself. At retail pumps around the country the price is typically at least 50 cents a gallon less than gasoline and it can be half the price of gasoline in many areas.

A huge drawback of CNG passenger vehicles so far has been the high cost of the systems, which require expensive high-pressure fuel tanks; the loss of cargo or passenger space that’s given over to those large, cylindrical fuel tanks; and the lack of a nationwide CNG refueling system.

The system being pitched by ANGA tries to address all of those issues.

The average premium over MSRP for the all-gasoline versions of the four bi-fuel vehicles shown by CarLab was just under $2,900 for cars built in small commercial quantities of 20,000 units a year, and slightly less than under $1,900 for vehicles built in large volumes of 200,000 or more per year.

“The average payback period is 2.2 years for someone driving 12,000 miles a year with gasoline at $3.53 a gallon and CNG at $1.17” a gasoline-gallon equivalent, Noble said.

“That compares to 3.4 years for a Toyota Prius (at the same fuel costs), 7.4 years for a Nissan Leafelectric car and 34.4 years for a Chevrolet Volt” plug-in hybrid, he said. “This isn’t a technology with the promise that the price will come down in 10 years” he said of the natural gas conversions. “It’s cheap now.”

The costs Noble cited contrast sharply with the nearly $7,500 price premium Honda charges for the 2012 Civic Natural Gas — the only factory built CNG passenger car sold in the U.S. today.

The key difference is that the Honda is a dedicated CNG vehicle that can’t use any other fuel — and thus has a large and very expensive high-pressure fuel tank — while the alliance is promoting bi-fuel vehicles that don’t need substantial CNG tanks.

The four CarLab demonstrators — a Ford Mustang GT, a Hyundai Sonata sedan, a GMC Acadia large crossover SUV and a BMW X-3 small crossover — all are designed to travel 50 miles on CNG before switching over to gasoline.

The two vehicles prepared by Landirenzo — a Honda CR-V small crossover SUV and a Chrysler 300sedan — emphasized CNG use and thus had larger tanks for the pressurized fuel and correspondingly higher conversion costs that added $4,800 to the MSRP of each.

The computerized engine control unit in each of the demonstration vehicles decides which fuel to use for the best performance, but prioritizes CNG until that fuel is depleted and gasoline is all that’s left to burn.

The CarLab vehicles kept their stock gas tanks and added small CNG tanks, typically holding the energy equivalent of 2 to 4 gallons of gasoline, while keeping all of their original cargo space. The Landirenzo vehicles had 9-gallon-equivalent CNG tanks plus their stock gas tanks, adding almost 180 miles of CNG travel to their range but losing a substantial amount of cargo space — 75 percent in the Chrysler’s case.

All six vehicles maintained their stock horsepower and fuel economy levels with either fuel.

The idea in both cases, said Noble, is to “give people the cost savings of using CNG for most of their driving but enable the vehicles to seamlessly switch to gasoline when the CNG tank is empty. That way people can just keep on driving with no inconvenience. Long trips aren’t a problem. And there’s no problem if you forget to fill up with CNG overnight.”

Edmunds says: Sounds like a couple of interesting approaches. Is anyone in the car business listening?

This article was first published by Edmunds.com.

Advertisements

Kwik Trip wins ‘Natural Gas Vehicle Leadership Award’ – Retailer honored for building nation’s first truly alternative fuels station

Propane

The design of the station itself is a marvel, they said, because it incorporates 10 transportation fuels, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), under a single canopy to achieve a one-stop fueling experience for the general public.

Kwik Trip currently has three locations offering CNG, which sells for between $1.59 and $1.79 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) in Wisconsin, and plans to open five more stations this year. An additional 10 stations are slated to open in 2013.

Kwik Trip’s own natural gas vehicle (NGV) fleet will serve as part of the anchor load. The company maintains a fleet of about 400 vehicles that travel more than 18 million miles annually. It has just begun to transform its fleet and currently operates more than 20 NGVs ranging from light-duty vehicles to Class 8 trucks. The retailer is an activist for the NGV industry and strongly advocates the nationwide adoption of natural gas to be a standard fuel instead of an alternative fuel.

Kwik Trip operates a chain of 372 Kwik Trip, Kwik Star (in Iowa) and Kwik Trip Travel Center locations throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Another 38 locations are tobacco outlets, as well as three Hearty Platter full-serve restaurants.

To viisit Kwik Trip’s natural gas webpage, please, CLICK HERE.

CSP Business Media recently named Kwik Trip CEO Don Zietlow as its 2012 Retail Leader of the Year. The chain also recently won the annual CSP-Service Intelligence Mystery Shop.

GE and Chesapeake Energy Launch CNG In A Box™ System at NACS 2012


GE (GE) and Peake Fuel Solutions, an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK), today launched the CNG In A Box™ system, which allows easier adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling options for large- and small-scale retailers. The solution was unveiled at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) 2012 Annual Show.

Natural gas is an abundant, reliable and cleaner-burning source of energy for consumers and commercial users. A vehicle fleet operator that uses the CNG In A Box system for natural gas fueling instead of traditional gasoline fueling can save about 40 percent in fuel costs1. The CNG In A Box system is a plug-and-play on-site fueling solution that comes with everything retailers need to add low-cost natural gas fuel to their operations quickly and simply. This GE ecomagination™ qualified refueling option provides an easy, lower-cost fueling experience for consumers and a higher-margin solution for facility operators compared to gasoline or diesel.

“In collaboration with Peake Fuel Solutions, GE is developing infrastructure solutions to accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel,” said Mike Hosford, general manager—Unconventional Resources, GE Oil & Gas. “The CNG In A Box system is a unique fueling solution that brings together some of the best innovation from across GE to help fleet owners and everyday drivers realize the benefits of cleaner burning, abundant, more affordable natural gas.”

“After working extensively with GE to develop the CNG In A Box system, we are excited to unveil it at NACS and to the fueling industry overall. Combining Peake Fuel Solutions’ natural gas expertise and GE’s breadth of cross-industry technology capabilities will advance the use of abundant and affordable natural gas fueling solutions,” said Kent Wilkinson, vice president—Natural Gas Ventures, Chesapeake.

The CNG In A Box system compresses natural gas from a pipeline into CNG on-site at a traditional automotive fueling station or industrial location. CNG-powered vehicles such as taxis, buses or small trucks, as well as individual consumer vehicles, can then refill their tanks using a dispenser with the same look and feel as a traditional diesel or gasoline dispenser.

GE ecomagination Vice President Mark Vachon said, “Natural gas is produced at a relatively lower cost and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel—natural gas vehicles can show an emissions reduction of up to 80 percent compared to gasoline vehicles2. Through ecomagination, we’ll continue to deliver to the industry innovative solutions that deliver both great economics and environmental performance, and the CNG In A Box system exemplifies this commitment.”

Financing for the CNG In A Box system is offered by GE Capital, providing competitive rates and flexible payment options. By combining an entire acquisition—including equipment, delivery and installation—into a single monthly payment, Peake Fuel Solutions’ customers can structure payments according to their cash flow and eliminate the costs and time associated with paying multiple vendors. With this solution, business owners can work with a single provider to acquire, finance and maintain their CNG In A Box system.

The CNG In A Box system’s 8 foot x 20 foot container is easy to ship and maintain due to its compact design. Its modular and novel design makes it plug-and-play on-site. Wayne, A GE Energy Business, manufactures the dispensers that deliver the CNG from the CNG In A Box system unit to vehicles. These alternative fuel dispensers feature PCI-compliant pay-at-the-pump technology for a familiar and secure fueling experience. Using the same dispenser and payment terminal interfaces as Wayne petroleum dispensers simplifies point of sale integration.

As part of this collaboration between GE and Peake Fuel Solutions, beginning in the fall of 2012 GE will provide more than 250 CNG In A Box systems for natural gas vehicle infrastructure.

To learn more about the CNG In A Box system, visit us online or stop by the Peake Fuel Solutions booth at the NACS show (booth #6101).

Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. For more on ecomagination, please visit:www.ecomagination.com.

About GE

GE (GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ge.com.

About Chesapeake Energy Corporation

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) is the second-largest producer of natural gas, a Top 15 producer of oil and natural gas liquids and the most active driller of new wells in the U.S. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company’s operations are focused on discovering and developing unconventional natural gas and oil fields onshore in the U.S. Chesapeake owns leading positions in the Eagle Ford, Utica, Granite Wash, Cleveland, Tonkawa, Mississippi Lime and Niobrara unconventional liquids plays and in the Marcellus, Haynesville/Bossier and Barnett unconventional natural gas shale plays. The company also owns substantial marketing and oilfield services businesses through its subsidiaries Chesapeake Energy Marketing, Inc. and Chesapeake Oilfield Services, L.L.C. Further information is available at www.chk.com where Chesapeake routinely posts announcements, updates, events, investor information, presentations and news releases.

About Peake Fuel Solutions

Peake Fuel Solutions advances innovative fuel solutions with products and services that create demand for clean, affordable natural gas. A significant focus of PFS is to increase compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure across the U.S. Other PFS projects include development of on-road and off-road technologies that reduce emissions and dramatically cut fuel expenses for the trucking, maritime, rail and oil and gas industries. An affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Peake leverages the expertise of other Chesapeake affiliates to implement many of its fuel solutions. Further information is available at www.peakefuelsolutions.com.

1 Assuming 25,700 miles per year driven, gasoline priced at $3.50/gallon and CNG at $2.09/gasoline gallon equivalent.

2 Calfornia Energy Commission – Consumer Education Center:http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/afvs/cng.html

ecomagination is a trademark of the General Electric Company

CNG In A Box is a trademark of the General Electric Company

© 2012 General Electric Company—All rights reserved

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50433209&lang=en

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE:http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50433209&lang=en

SOURCE- CNGNOW.com

Natural gas vehicles pushed in La.

The push for compressed natural gas vehicles has gained some major traction with commitments from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and General Motors, but energy industry experts say federal incentives will be needed if real transformation is to occur.

“It is extremely nice to see that it’s actually here. A lot of times you talk about those things like they’re unicorns,” said Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “But now they’re here …. I think that is a huge first step towards making it (CNG) a little more mainstream acceptable.”

The energy industry has felt good about the direction CNG has taken for a while, Briggs said, but the advent of mass-produced pickups that can run on natural gas or gasoline opens the door on a national scale.

Louisiana has seen CNG advances because of its Haynesville Shale natural gas formation, LOGA, the energy industry, and companies like Chesapeake Energy Corp., Encana Corp., Petrohawk Energy Corp. and Apache Corp., Briggs said. But trying to get Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and other states that don’t have the energy infrastructure to support CNG has been more challenging.

That may be changing. Twenty-two states are part of an effort, led by the governors of Oklahoma and Colorado, to encourage automakers to make more affordable CNG vehicles for state fleets. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has said the governors hope their efforts will help overcome some of the obstacles automakers face in producing a wider variety of CNG vehicles.

Oklahoma Energy Secretary Michael Ming said if the participating states could buy 5,000 CNG vehicles that would be great, but 1,000 is more likely given the current economic climate.

State government buys only about 40 percent of the public-sector vehicle purchases, Ming said. Municipalities and other political subdivisions account for 60 percent of sales.

If the municipalities — city and parish governments — tag along, the CNG sales could be significantly higher, Ming said.

Chris Knittel, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described the states’ request as “interesting.”

The states presume the CNG vehicles available aren’t that affordable, Knittel said.

“There’s no magic wand that the automakers can wave that makes the CNG vehicles less expensive than gasoline-based vehicles,” Knittel said.

“But there are things that policymakers can do to level the playing field.”

States have to put policies in place with incentives that encourage consumers to switch, he said. Those incentives could involve making CNG fueling stations available, subsidizing vehicles or in-home fueling stations, or by lowering retail prices for natural gas.

Right now, the states aren’t guaranteeing anything to automakers, Knittel said.

“I think the states are just saying that if you build them, we’ll promise the consumers,” Knittel said. “I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case given the current structure of prices and the number of refueling stations around.”

There are roughly 1,000 fueling stations nationwide, and 123,000 CNG vehicles, Ming said.

In Louisiana, CNG vehicles make up less than 1 percent of the cars and trucks on the road, Briggs said. Nationwide, CNG vehicles are around 2 percent of the total.

But that can change if the state, local and federal governments and the private sector — the companies that operate fleets — work together, he said.

“I don’t think the federal government or the state government or the local government can do it by themselves, any more than I think the fleets can do it by themselves,” Briggs said.

But working together can make things happen, Briggs said. Just look at Lafayette, where the city-parish government and private sector have joined to make the state’s most aggressive move to CNG.

In July, Apache opened a public fueling station. The company also converted 15 of its vehicles in Lafayette, part of 300 conversions it will complete by yearend. The city-parish has converted five buses and announced plans to convert its entire fleet.

The city-parish is also trying to form a partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the local school boards to convert all their vehicles, Briggs said. Acadian Ambulance is experimenting with CNG for its vehicles.

The East Baton Rouge City-Parish Government recently began looking into converting all of its vehicles to CNG. The city-parish expects the move will slash fuel costs, particularly for heavy-duty pickups and other vehicles that consume more fuel.

Chesapeake spokeswoman Katie McCullin said there is evidence across Louisiana that the state is leading the nation in natural gas usage.

For example, Shreveport has added 14 natural-gas powered buses, and Bossier City has added a second public fueling station. Holmes Honda in Shreveport and Bossier City received its first shipment of the Honda Civic Natural Gas, the only dedicated CNG vehicle now sold in the United States.

In total there are 10 public CNG stations in Louisiana, with more in the planning stages or under construction, McCullin said.

Chesapeake, a major player in the Haynesville Shale and other natural gas plays, is one of the leading proponents of CNG.

The Oklahoma-based company’s Fueling the Future Initiative is an effort to communicate how natural gas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, McCullin said.

The company has a billboard off Interstate 10 near the state Capitol extolling the use of natural gas vehicles.

Chesapeake has participated and sponsored natural gas vehicle seminars nationwide and is converting its 5,000-vehicle fleet to CNG, McCullin said. UPS, Verizon Wireless, Waste Management, Disneyland Resorts and AT&T are also converting their fleets to CNG; in 2009, AT&T announced it would spend $350 million to buy 8,000 CNG vehicles.

McCullin said Chesapeake will also invest at least $1 billion over the next 10 years with Clean Energy, 3M Corp., GE and Sundrop Fuels in efforts to increase demand for CNG vehicles.

The work with 3M could revolutionize the design and manufacture of CNG tanks, the most expensive part of the CNG fueling system, McCullins said. The redesign is expected to lead to lighter, more durable and less expensive tanks.

Chesapeake expects these investments to be the tipping point that gives automakers the confidence to increase their production of CNG and liquefied natural gas vehicles, McCullin said.

Still, both Briggs and Knittel said federal incentives are needed if natural gas is to replace oil as a transportation fuel.

The federal government would be the best source for those incentives, Knittel said, because the benefits from CNG vehicles accrue to the nation, not just to the states.

Energy independence and a reduction in climate change help everyone in the United States, regardless of whether a Louisiana resident buys CNG vehicle, he said.

“When the benefits accrue to everyone, the best place to set the policies is at the higher federal level,” Knittel said.

Briggs said if the country wants to see “a monumental shift,” then Congress should pass the Natural Gas Act.

The act replaces CNG incentives that dropped off the books about three years ago, Briggs said.

That was about the same time that Louisiana passed its own CNG vehicle incentives, Briggs said.

Right now, with only the state incentives, a Louisiana consumer can recover the $10,000 it costs to convert to CNG in two years if he drives 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year.

Most people don’t drive that much, Briggs said. But if both federal and Louisiana incentives were in place, converting a vehicle would be free, and consumers would begin saving money instantly.

“You’re saving a dollar, a dollar fifty, two dollars a gallon,” Briggs said.

“That would register with the American public overnight.”

Briggs pays around 45 cents per gallon by fueling up at LOGA’s office station, he said.

At Apache’s Lafayette station, the cost is around $1.79 a gallon, which is still only about half the price of gasoline.

Briggs said there is enormous support for the Natural Gas Act, but he doesn’t expect Congress to pass the legislation anytime soon.

And Knittel said any new policies that involve handing out more money have little chance in Congress these days.

“Still, I could certainly see both sides of the aisle supporting CNG,” Knittel said.

The rhetoric from both parties suggests they would support natural gas vehicles, he said.

Meanwhile, the price of natural gas is lower than it’s ever been, and with shale gas so plentiful, prices are expected to remain low for some time, Knittel said. In the past, natural gas prices have been very volatile; the price might fall but no one expected it to stay there.

Now, natural gas is expected to remain at less than $5 per thousand cubic feet for the foreseeable future, Knittel said.

Briggs said the United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

“We have more natural gas than we know what to do with. We’re trying to export it,” Briggs said.

The country has so much natural gas that it’s going to run out of storage capacity, Briggs said.

“I think if the federal government … is serious about eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, the only viable alternative is natural gas,” Briggs said.

Congress should pass the Natural Gas Act, he said.

“Let’s get it on the books, and let’s see if we can get started transforming America’s transportation infrastructure” Briggs said.

Source:  The Advocate

Looking to get a cng station? Check us out http://www.fenleynicolenvir.com/cng.html

Will The Trend Toward Compressed Natural Gas Continue?

Will The Trend Toward Compressed Natural Gas Continue?

CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is increasingly being substituted for gasoline and diesel oil as a motor fuel. Although the number of vehicles that have switched is still tiny, compared to the numbers running gasoline and diesel oil, the trend is clear. Commercial fleets of trucks and buses have been switching. The number of available CNG filling stations has been increasing. But will the trend continue?

It is possible to predict that a continuing disparity between the prices of natural gas and crude oil will cause demand for CNG to increase. Take gasoline, for example. Gasoline first became more expensive than CNG in March 2006 when both were priced at $2.34 per gallon. Although gasoline was briefly priced lower than CNG in November 2008, due to a worldwide recession, by the end of March 2009 gasoline had again become more expensive than CNG. At the end of May 2012, the price differential was $3.58 for a gallon of gasoline and $1.72 for the equivalent in CNG (calculated as the price of natural gas to commercial consumers plus 70¢), as shown in the graph below:

336665-13457372229391398-Howard-Richman.png

There are two primary reasons why gasoline and diesel oil are rising in price:

1. Rapidly Growing Demand. As the emerging market countries continue to grow, they are demanding ever increasing amounts of gasoline and diesel oil.
2. Slowly Growing Supply. Worldwide proved reserves of crude oil have only been growing slowly.

The graph below shows the most recent statistics for America’s proved reserves of natural gas and crude oil (calculating 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas = 188 million oil barrels). As shown in the graph, since the beginning of 2000, U.S. proved natural gas reserves have nearly doubled from 167 to 318 trillion cubic feet while U.S. proved crude oil reserves have only risen from 21.8 to 25.2 billion barrels.

336665-13457431510785625-Howard-Richman.png
According to the economics principle of substitutes (i.e., when the price of coffee goes up, demand for tea will increase), demand for CNG should continue to increase into the foreseeable future.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I get royalties from natural gas wells and own stocks and mutual funds that are involved in oil and natural gas exploration and in building CNG filling stations and compressors.

This article was first published by Seeking Alpha.

5 Natural Gas Car Facts

What’s the Status of Natural Gas Vehicles?
In years past, a number of auto manufacturers offered cars and light trucks that could operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). All automakers exceptHonda have left this market in the U.S., although companies like BAF Technologies do modify select existing models to run on gaseous fuels. This lack of CNG vehicles should change for the better since natural gas has so much going for it, especially in this age of rising gasoline and diesel prices and a growing dependence on imported oil. Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels, it’s found in abundance in the U.S., and it’s also significantly less expensive than gasoline.

Safe and Reliable 
CNG is actually a safer fuel than gasoline. After all, natural gas is used in virtually every home. Unlike gasoline that can pool on the ground in the event of an accident or leak, CNG dissipates harmlessly into the air. With a very narrow range of flammability to be combustible and nearly twice the ignition temperature of gasoline, it’s also less likely to cause a fire. Because natural gas is such a clean burning fuel, carbon deposits in an engine are nil, reducing cylinder and ring wear so engine life can be much greater than when running on gasoline. Oil change and tune up intervals can also be extended.

Natural Gas is Growing in Popularity 
Natural gas vehicles are growing in popularity. This has been driven in recent years by the medium- to-heavy duty market. Natural gas is now widely used in transit buses, school buses, refuse trucks, package delivery trucks, and vehicles used in ports. One thing these all have in common is that they can be refueled at a central location. This is not the case with cars and light trucks that travel where natural gas might be difficult to find. This could have contributed to the lack of interest in natural gas vehicles by general consumers in the past. In recent years, companies like Clean Energy have successfully driven natural gas vehicle use by building fueling stations and supplying natural gas under multi-year contracts to fleets at costs significantly less than the per-gallon cost of gasoline or diesel. Fleet use should lead to greater consumer use in the future.

Convenient At-Home Refueling 
At present there are about 800 natural gas stations available nationwide, compared to 175,000 stations dispensing gasoline. Refueling at a fast-fill CNG station takes no longer than tanking up with gasoline. As the fueling infrastructure builds for CNG, the inconvenience of limited public fueling opportunities is softened by the availability of filling up at home. That’s because Honda offers the Phill home refueling appliance, which was developed in conjunction with its Canadian technology partner Fuelmaker and is now manufactured by that company. Phill can be installed in a garage or outside a home to allow refueling using a home’s natural gas supply. The refueling appliance does require as much as 16 hours to fill an almost empty tank, although it’s likely that a natural gas vehicle refueled at home will rarely have an empty tank, and an overnight top-off will usually be sufficient for the daily commute. In many cases, vehicles fueled up at favorable natural gas home rates can operate as cheaply as the equivalent of $1.25 to $1.50 per gallon.

Honda’s Civic GX
Unlike bi-fuel vehicles previously offered by other automakers that could run alternatively on natural gas or gasoline, Honda’s “dedicated” natural gas Civic GX – the industry’s cleanest internal combustion production vehicle – has an engine that’s optimized to run only on this alternative fuel. The Civic GX comes only as a four door sedan that looks identical to gasoline Civics. Its 113 horsepower four-cylinder engine produces about 27 hp less than the standard Civic engine but you really can’t feel the difference during normal driving. The equivalent of 8 gallons of natural gas fuel is stored in a 3600 psi pressurized fuel cylinder located at the forward part of the trunk. This tank, which is hidden behind a carpeted liner, does consume some trunk space but leaves quite adequate room for carrying groceries, gear, and luggage. The Civic GX has an EPA estimated 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway fuel rating, about the same as the gasoline Civic. Its real-world driving range is approximately 200 miles between fill-ups. At $25,225, the GX costs about $7,000 more than the gasoline powered LX model but presently qualifies for substantial federal tax credits and other incentives. At this time in California you can even obtain a decal that allows driving a Civic GX in HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle, or “carpool”) lanes even with only one person in the car. This is the same benefit enjoyed by qualified hybrid cars that were issued decals in the state, although no new hybrid decals are available since the maximum allocation of hybrid HOV decals has been reached.

Source : Greencar.com

Competing projects propose $500 home Cng Fueler

Eaton Corp. and General Electric Co. are working on competing projects to develop a $500 home natural gas fueling station, a product that could entice car owners to switch to a fuel whose price has plummeted because of shale drilling.

The companies’ efforts are part of a U.S. Department of Energy push to reduce the cost of such stations, which can sell for more than $5,000, and the time it takes to refuel as a way to attract more people to drive vehicles powered by compressed natural gas.

An affordable CNG station for homes could “revolutionize” how Americans commute, Dane Boysen, director of an Energy Department program to encourage use of the fuel in vehicles, said in a statement from Cleveland, Ohio-based Eaton.

“My hope is that these advanced technologies will enable us to use our abundant domestic supply of natural gas for transportation, diversifying our nation’s fuel and refueling portfolio for the future,” he said.

CNG is selling at retail for the equivalent of about $2.09 per gallon of gasoline, according to Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the nation’s largest producers of natural gas. Monday in Tulsa, the most common price of regular-grade gasoline was $3.39 a gallon.

Eaton said its technology will tap into a home’s existing natural gas system. The company is developing the home station with the University of Minnesota, funded in part by a $3.4 million Energy Department grant. The company said it will draw on its experience installing electric-vehicle charging stations across the nation.

GE said last week that it’s working with Chart Industries Inc. and the University of Missouri to develop a fueling station. The Fairfield, Conn.-based company received a $1.8 million Energy Department grant, according to Todd Alhart, a GE spokesman.

The Energy Department is also funding projects including storage tanks being developed by Ford Motor Co. and United Technologies Corp. in separate efforts.

Thanks to drilling technologies to recover the natural gas from shale rock, the market price of the fuel is about 80 percent lower than four years ago. Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas rose a penny to finish the trading day at $3.09 per 1,000 cubic feet.​

This article was first published by Tulsa World.