Natural Gas Vehicles

Vehicles That Run on Natural Gas

2015 Natural Gas Vehicles

Even though natural gas cars are not real prevalent, natural gas trucks and natural gas buses are becoming much more common in most major cities and recreational areas.  During a recent trip to South Lake Tahoe and to Yosemite, we were surprised to see the public transit buses were running on natural gas.  2016 natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are much cleaner burning than diesel trucks and buses.  As long as a fueling station is close by, these vehicles are much more economical to drive than a conventional truck or bus.  There are federal funds, and in many states, tax incentives to go with natural gas vehicles.  Actually, between 12-15% of all public transit buses throughout the U.S. now run on Natural gas.  Nearly one in every five new buses ordered today are slated to run on natural gas.  That number will increase significantly over the coming years.

A majority of natural gas vehicles operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). This compressed gas is stored similarly to a car's gasoline tank, which is attached to the rear, top, or undercarriage of the vehicle.  The storage tank is a tube shaped tank.  A CNG tank can be filled in a similar manner as a gasoline tank, and in a similar amount of time.

Natural gas fuels a combustion engine similar to engines fueled by other sources.  However, in a NGV, several components require modification to allow the engine to run efficiently on natural gas.  In addition to using CNG, some natural gas vehicles are fueled by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).  There are also some natural gas vehicles that exist today that are bi-fuel vehicles.  This means they can use either gasoline or natural gas, allowing for more flexibility, depending on which fuel is available. Many of these vehicles, which originally operated only on gasoline, have been converted to allow the vehicles to run on either fuel.  This kind of conversion is costly, and typically results in less efficient use of natural gas. There are many trucks that are currently being converted to natural gas. In some areas, even taxi cabs are being converted. For high mileage vehicles a conversion to natural gas is very cost effective.

2015 Vehicles That Run On Natural Gas

Who Uses Natural Gas Cars?  Most people don’t personally know anyone who owns one. Did you realize that compressed natural gas (CNG) cars have been sold in the United States for more than a decade? Currently the only CNG car for sale is the Honda Civic GX. Natural gas vehicles as they exist today are best suited for large fleets of vehicles that drive many miles per day. Those vehicles include taxicabs, school and transit buses, construction vehicles, airport shuttles, delivery vehicles, garbage trucks, and public works vehicles.  It is economical and beneficial to convert these vehicles to natural gas since they are centrally maintained and fueled. One of the main drawbacks to natural gas vehicles is the availability of natural gas fueling stations. Or should I say the lack of fueling stations. There are currently about 1,000 fueling stations across the United States, half of which are open to the public. This is starting to change. Love’s Travel Stops recently announced that they are working in conjunction with Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas. Both companies are headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Love’s will be opening ten CNG fueling stations in Oklahoma. They own 280 stores across the nation. They are hopeful to open additional fueling stations as time goes on.

One of the primary reasons for pursuing alternative fuels for vehicle technology is to decrease harmful emissions into the environment.   Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel known to man. Vehicles on the roads are currently estimated to produce approximately 60% of all carbon monoxide pollution.  In addition, they produce 29% of hydrocarbon emissions, and 31% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the United States. The combination of all of this emission released into the atmosphere contributes to smog pollution, and increase the levels of dangerous ground level ozone.  Vehicles also account for the emission of over half of all dangerous air pollutants, and around 30% of total carbon emissions in the U.S., contributing to the presence of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. The environmental effects from natural gas vehicles are much less detrimental than traditionally fueled vehicles.  You can get more information on environmental standards through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

One of the primary reasons for pursuing alternative fuels for vehicle technology is to decrease harmful emissions into the environment.   Vehicles on the roads are estimated to produce approximately 60% of carbon monoxide pollution.  In addition, they produce 29% of hydrocarbon emissions, and 31% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the United States. The combination of all of these emissions released into the atmosphere contribute to smog pollution, and increase the levels of dangerous ground level ozone.  Vehicles also account for the emission of over half of all dangerous air pollutants, and around 30% of total carbon emissions in the U.S., contributing to the presence of 'greenhouse gases' in the atmosphere. The environmental effects of NGVs are much less detrimental than traditionally fueled vehicles.  You can get more information on environmental standards through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Westport Innovations Inc. is one of the largest manufacturers of CNG and LNG engines in the world.  They made significant improvements and refinements to the original High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology, and then demonstrated its benefits in real-world applications; then launched an engine and fuel system for heavy-duty applications.  As of 2005, Cummins Westport, a subsidiary of Westport Innovations Inc. offered medium and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle engines from 150 to 320 horsepower which are available for nearly 60 OEM vehicles.  They also had more than 28,000 engines in service worldwide.  Westport Innovations Inc. is a world leader in this innovative technology.

In June of 2011, General Motors struck a deal with Westport Innovations Inc. to produce natural gas engines for their applications. This is a clear sign that GM is committed to moving forward with natural gas vehicles.

The price of natural gas is driving many local governments and companies to operate CNG vehicles rather than the conventional diesel rigs.  In many areas of the country, the price of natural gas is less than $2 per gallon equivalent to gasoline. Not only is natural gas a cleaner burning fuel, but it is much more abundant in our country than regular fossil fuel.  With newer technologies in place such as fracking, it makes much more sense to go after more natural gas. Fracking is a term used for hydraulic fracturing of shale rock which is deep below the surface of the earth. Using high water pressure, it breaks up the shale and releases the natural gas. If the United States aggressively goes after this natural gas source, we will not only reduce our dependency on foreign oil, but can start exporting it to other countries. In the process, we can create thousands of jobs, and help our struggling economy. As people catch on to natural gas cars, their production should escalate extensively over the next few years.

Many forget that 25% of the nation’s energy consumed is in the form of natural gas.  Most of that gas is used to heat homes and businesses.  Many home appliances such as stoves and hot water heater are also operated on natural gas. Actually, only 1% of our nation’s natural gas is currently being used for transportation in one form or another.  With the abundant supply of natural gas available, natural gas vehicles 2016 make a lot of sense.

Here are some questions this material and other related pages should have answered:

·       Is natural gas a good alternative fuel for vehicles?

·       Are there natural gas vehicles on U.S. highways?

·       Is natural gas less expensive than gasoline?

·       What process is used to recover natural gas?

·       Why are natural gas buses called clean air vehicles?

·       Can cars with gasoline engines run on natural gas?

·       Are there CNG vehicles for sale in the United States?

·       Is it possible to convert a gasoline engine to run on natural gas?