Rising gas prices and the growing concern for the protection of environment have led to the use of alternative fuels in vehicles. There are several substitutes available for gasoline and diesel for use in vehicles. Of the various alternatives available, natural gas is the best one.
Vehicles that run on natural gas are known as natural gas vehicles or CNG vehicles. Natural gas can be used in two forms in vehicles. One is compressed natural gas or CNG and the other is liquefied natural gas or LNG which is also referred to as LPG – liquefied petroleum gas. Vehicles that use CNG and LPG are different. Both LPG and CNG are forms of natural gas, but the difference lies in the cost of the vehicle, refueling options, hazards, tanks and the way these vehicles run on these technologies.
LPG vehicles run on gases which are in liquid state. The best part about using LPG is that it is easily available and is the cheapest form of natural gas available. CNG on the other hand is more expensive than LPG. CNG is safer compared to LPG, and that is the reason why most vehicles are CNG based.
Today, there are millions of natural gas vehicles used worldwide. The main reason for the increase in natural gas vehicles is that natural gas is a cleaner fuel compared to gasoline and diesel. Also, natural gas is environment friendly. The maintenance cost of natural gas vehicles is less compared to vehicles that run on gas and diesel.
The advantages that natural gas offers have forced many manufacturers to develop vehicles that can run on CNG.
LPG and CNG are used in many vehicle types. CNG is very commonly used in public buses. Many nations now manufacture CNG buses, and have used CNG conversion kits on existing buses. Natural gas vehicles are also used in taxis in many countries. The main reason for using natural gas in buses and taxis is to reduce the cost of transportation as natural gas is less expensive. Some US companies, like UPS, are converting their fleet of trucks to CNG.
With the intent of saving gasoline, renowned companies like Honda have also started manufacturing CNG based cars. Honda Civic GX is the only commercially available natural gas vehicle available in theUSthat runs on CNG. This model of Honda Civic is known for producing zero emissions. In Brazil a multi powered engine in the Chevrolet Astra model 2.0 was introduced by GM-do-Brasil, which runs on alcohol, gas and CNG. Another natural gas vehicle was introduced by Fiat, the Fiat Siena tetra fuel, which is capable of running on CNG, ethanol, blended gasoline and pure gasoline.
Natural gas vehicles have a few drawbacks as well. For example, the problem of fuel storage and lack of natural gas filling stations. Although more and more natural gas filling stations are popping up all over the US. You can find a list here: Natural Gas Stations
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