10 Advantages of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Where is CNG available in California?

Gas prices have been inching closer to the $4.50 mark and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to stop any time soon. Now is a good time to look into alternative forms of fuel.

1.  Natural gas is readily accessible and reduces dependence on energy sources overseas. Natural gas is a mixture of gases that is produced domestically and in North America.  When gas and oil reservoirs are drilled, the mixture of gases is extracted and processed for use.  Pipelines transporting natural gas are already part of our infrastructure, making the supply readily accessible and inexpensive to obtain.  Because energy from natural gas can be domestically produced, dependency on foreign governments for oil is lessened.

2.  Compressed natural gas (CNG) refers to natural gas that has been pressurized and placed in cylinders or tanks for alternative fuel purposes. One full tank of CNG yields an equivalent amount of mileage as a full tank of gasoline.

3.  CNG differs from Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) in that it is stored as a gas and does not require specialized cylindars. CNG takes up less space in a storage container, allowing for more gas to be available for use.  Liquid natural gas has to be stored at a very cold temperature, necessitating specially designed  cylinders to insulate the natural gas and keep the temperature at -260 degrees Fahrenheit.  These especially designed tanks add to the expense of LNG.

4.  CNG is a safe and environmentally conscious alternative energy source. Natural gas is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and does not pollute soil, groundwater or surface water.  In addition, CNG is lighter than air, allowing it to dissipate quickly without threat of fire in the event that a leak develops.  Thus, in comparison to gasoline, natural gas is not only eco-friendly, but a healthier alternative fuel source.

5.  Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) release a considerably lower amount of toxic emissions than gasoline vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there is a 90% – 97% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions by NGVs compared to gasoline run cars, trucks and SUVs.  Also, NGVs reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25% and non-methane hydrocarbon emissions by 50% – 75%.  While natural gas vehicles emit a higher amount of methane, NGVs are a more environmentally sound alternative fuel option considering overall emissions.

6.  Almost any car, van, truck or SUV can be converted to run on natural gas. No alterations are done to the vehicle’s engine, and kits come available with a switch allowing the operator to choose between the car’s gasoline or CNG supply.   Many companies currently market CNG kits, but they should be installed by a certified professional.  Basic CNG kits start at $900; gas tanks are an additional charge starting at $1200.

7.  Cars running solely on CNG are environmentally friendly, stylish and affordable. The 2011 Honda Civic GX is the newest model NGV that runs entirely on CNG.  The Civic is competitive in price, performance and aesthetic.  It averages 24 miles per gallon (mpg) on the streets and 36 mpg on the highway.

8.  Public transportation systems nationwide are converting to fleets that operate solely on natural gas. According to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO), over 90% of its bus fleet runs on natural gas, making METRO the greenest public transportation system nationwide.

9.  Refueling a natural gas vehicle is more convenient and cost effective than refueling a gasoline car. More gas stations are carrying natural gas these days; in addition, natural gas is available at clean energy sites.  Another alternative is to install a private refueling station in your garage and refuel overnight.  Home refueling setups start at $4,000.  An October 2010 U.S. Department of Energy report estimates a savings of 85 cents per gallon based on gasoline at $2.78 per gallon and CNG at $1.93.

10.  Many incentives are being offered for those who purchase NGVs or install CNG kits in their current vehicles. Incentives differ from state to state, as well as county and region.  Some of the perks include: Carpool stickers, insurance discounts, tax credits on CNG and stipends for home refueling kits. In addition, some companies are offering employees stipends for purchasing NGVs.

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Author: Sarah

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