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

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Pedal-Powered Lives & Businesses: 5 Top Stories

The Pedal Powered Business: Turning Human Power into Profit

Pedal powered business – we’ve done that before.  From food delivery torecycling pick-up to musical tours, we’ve seen multiple examples of businesses that use bicycles as their sole means of transportation. But the energy transferred from biker to bike doesn’t necessarily have to create forward motion: it can be put to other uses (as we tried to do a couple of years ago). A few entrepreneurs around the world have seen the profit potential in pedaling: here are a handful of businesses powering themselves at least partially by human power.

1. Harvesting Energy from the Gym

Fitness centers and gyms are kind of a no-brainer on the pedal power front: there’s already plenty of kinetic energy being generated. It wasn’t until a few years ago that engineers and entrepreneurs began exploring how to harvest that energy. Human-powered gyms are now up and running in Hong Kongand Portland, Oregon.

pedal powered fitness center the green microgym in portland oregon

Image credit: The Green Microgym on Facebook

2. The Pedal Powered Movie Theater

The Magnificent Revolution’s Cycle Cinema concept “uses 8 bikes and 16 legs to power a 4000 Lumen projector and 500W of audio equipment for screening films or projections.” The idea’s catching on: a food co-op in Canberra, Australia is currently raising funds to install their own system for their occasional movie nights. MR is a non-profit, but no reason this concept couldn’t be profitable.

3. Human Powered Coffee

That morning cup of coffee gives us the energy to get going: in Davis, California, entrepreneur Alex Roth returns the favor by putting his own energy back into the roasting and delivery of single origin organic coffee. At The Pepper Peddler, Roth roasts his beans with a combination of peddle power and propane (so, not totally clean, but pretty close). The company also delivers those beans to customers by bike. Check out the roasting system itself at Popular Mechanics (which included it as one of seven ways peddle power will change the world), as well as these videos from local news stations (which, unfortunately, aren’t embeddable).

4. Pedal Powered Lights

About a year ago, I took at look at Nuru Light, a Canadian company that’s designed a lighting system for people in the developing world that don’t have electricity. These small light modules can be used for activities like reading and cooking after dark, and even hooked together for more light when needed. The LED-based modules can be recharged on a pedal powered generator that the company developed , and which provides a service business opportunity for the entrepreneurial. The video below gives more insight into the concept; Africa Review recently took a look at how Rwandan fisherman Daniel Ntibaziyandemye is using the Nuru Light.

5. Pedal Powered Smoothies

Like to fire up the blender for breakfast? British company Real Food Works likes to show how that morning shake can be “people powered” with its Cool Green Smoothie Machine. The company itself exists to demonstrate more healthful ways to live, and shows off the machine at events to which it’s invited: no word on plans to manufacture the Machine.

Good businesses are always looking for ways to cut unnecessary costs –pedal power not only works on that front, but also (clearly) is still an attention grabber. If you know of other businesses running parts of their operations with pedals, share them with us.

Featured image credit: Screen capture from “Cycle In Cinema – Magnificent Revolution

Source = Clean technica