Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fuel for Natural Gas Vehicles - Automobile & Ground Transport
There are about 120,000 natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on U.S. roads today and more than 14.8 million worldwide. More and more NGVs take to the road every day – and the trend is being “fueled” by environmental, energy security and economic market drivers. Sales are projected to grow at a whopping 25 percent a year.
About 30 different U.S. manufacturers produce about 100 models of light, medium and heavy-duty NGVs. Available from OEMs (like American Honda, General Motors, and Chrysler Ram Trucks, to name a few), and SVMs like Altech-Eco, BAF Technologies, and Landi Renzo USA/Baytech, these vehicles deliver performance and reliability on par with their gasoline and diesel counterparts.
Also available are many excellent systems for retrofitting gasoline and diesel vehicles – retrofits are now available for GM, Ford, Dodge, VW, Mitsubishi, Mazda–Workhorse, Isuzu, JAC, UtiliMaster, and FCCC. And the list is growing every day.
NGV examples abound – and in all vehicle categories
While the greatest use of NGVs has been in the heavier vehicles, there are many signs that consumer adoption is increasing, especially in areas with good access to fueling options. Check out these newer options for NGV or dual fuel vehicles.
American Honda Civic Natural Gas Sedan – American-made of 70 percent US-sourced parts, the 1.8L 4-cylinder engine with an 8 gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) tank has a 225-250 mile range. Fleet applications include sales reps, project supervisors, document and medical lab couriers, transit route supervisors, social service workers, code officials, parking enforcement, and non-pursuit police/security, to name just a few.
GM – Dedicated CNG Express/Savana cargo vans – LC8 6.0L V8 Vortec engine features hardened exhaust valves and hardened intake and exhaust valve seats, with two tank configurations (23 GGE and 16 GGE).
GM – Bi-Fuel 2500HD Silverado/ Sierra extended cab pick-up – Proven LC8 6.0L V8 Vortec engine, and available with short and long bed options. The Type III tank 17.2GGE CNG fuel package complements the 36 gallon gasoline system.
Chrysler – Bi-Fuel Ram 2500 CNG crew cab pick-up – 5.7L HEMI engine with factory engineered and installed CNG systems; cylinder fuel storage system provides 18.2 GGEs (about 255miles), supplementing 8 gasoline gallons (about 112miles) for total range of 367 miles. Also available is an option for a standard 34 gallon gas tank.
Fueling options available
A variety of fueling options are available – LDCs, E&Ps, leasing companies, other customers, and independent fuel retailers – both NGV-focused and, now, more traditional fuel retailers – are sprouting up to develop fueling infrastructure as the market for NGVs increases.
Most BioCNG systems use one of these fuel filling options:
Time-fill capability – CNG is dispensed slowly directly to vehicles’ onboard storage tanks. This is a lower cost station investment, best for fleets that return to a central lot and sit idle overnight or for extended periods and do not need fast fill capability. (Most home fueling devices are time-fill applications.
Fast-fill capability – Similar to a liquid fueling station, with the same fill rates and times. This option is A MUST for public access. Also good for larger fleets where fueling turn-around time is short.
Combo-fill capability – This option combines both time-fill and fast-fill, and is often good for fleets that can fuel on time-fill but need occasional “top off” or want/need ability to provide public access.
Natural gas is safe and natural gas vehicles have an excellent safety record
Natural gas, like all vehicle fuels, can be used safely if properly handled. Natural gas actually has safety advantages compared to gasoline and diesel, because it is non-toxic, and will not cause contamination in the event of a release. With a very limited range of flammability, natural gas does not burn in concentrations below about 5 percent or above about 15 percent when mixed with air.
The compression, storage and fueling of natural gas vehicles meets stringent industry and government safety standards. These are well established and well known, since high pressure gases are used safely every day in industrial and medical applications.
Natural gas powered vehicles are designed and built to be safe both in normal operation and in accidents. New OEM natural gas vehicles are subjected to the same federal government crash tests as other vehicles. Natural gas cylinders are much thicker and stronger than gasoline or diesel tanks, and are designed not to rupture when fully fueled over six times a day, 365 days a year, far beyond what they will see in service. Industry standards test them far beyond normal environmental and service damage risks. The cylinders are designed for a specific lifetime from 15 up to 25 years and are required to be inspected every 3 years or 36,000 miles.