Is Compressed Natural Gas the Solution to Refueling Woes?

Will compressed natural gas (CNG) solve the current problems we have with expensive, high-polluting fuel? There are some who say that CNG is a great alternative, but there are also a few logistical concerns with the use of compressed natural gas.

What is Compressed Natural Gas?

Natural gas is composed of mostly methane, which is then put under pressure to create compressed natural gas. It is odorless, clear, and relatively clean-burning. CNG is stored in high-pressure fuel tanks.

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The Benefits of Compressed Natural Gas as a Fuel Alternative

A major benefit of using compressed natural gas to fuel your vehicle is that it is a much cleaner alternative to gasoline, diesel or propane. Although it does produce some greenhouse gases and other pollutants, it emits substantially less than its counterparts. An engine running on CNG is one of the cleanest burning engines available. CNG is also safer to use, as it is less combustible and volatile in case of a spill. Another benefit is that CNG is fairly inexpensive to produce and is a cost-effective alternative for consumers. Not only would you save money at the refueling station, but you would also save in the long run because natural gas vehicles (NGVs) can last a long time. CNG is non-corrosive, so NGV engines are less likely to degrade than engines in a conventional gasoline-powered car. As an added bonus, you can even refuel your vehicle while you are in the comfort of your own home. You can have a system installed that taps into your home’s existing natural gas lines and compresses the gas – just hook up your car and refuel overnight!

The Drawbacks of Using Compressed Natural Gas as a Fuel

Vehicles that run on compressed natural gas are not readily available. The Honda Civic GX, for example, is only available in California and New York. Unfortunately, other states do not have the fueling stations or mechanics to support natural gas vehicles. Another issue with the use of natural gas is that fueling stations are also difficult to find. You could end up driving long distances to refuel, which could make refueling more hassle than it’s worth. Even if you are able to refuel your car at home, it can take as much as 12 hours to fill your tank. One possible solution to this problem is to drive a bi-fuel vehicle, which can run on natural gas and another type of fuel. However, this means that your vehicle would have two separate fuel tanks, resulting in some loss of interior space. While compressed natural gas does seem to be an excellent alternative to traditionally used fossil fuels, its availability is limited. If you happen to live in New York or California, then it is certainly more realistic to use CNG. However, there are long waiting lists for natural gas vehicles. Right now, the infrastructure is heavily based on gasoline and diesel-powered cars. If fueling stations become more common and NGVs become more readily available, perhaps we will see more of these clean-burning vehicles on the road.

John writes mostly about about how to buy used cars at car shows and save thousands. By day he is a mechanic working from his mobile “office” with his mobile construction equipment business.

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