Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars . . . ?

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It’s interesting to speculate about why solutions that would have actually worked – which did work –  seem to always just kind of .  . .   go away. 

Not the fabled 100 MPG carburetor. That probably never existed.

But how about cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)?

They did exist. And – much more interesting – they worked

Several car companies – including GM and Ford  – offered them, briefly, back in the late 1990s. Including CNG-powered versions of their full-size sedans (the Impala and Crown Victoria, respectively) with room for six and a V8 engine under the hood.

Beats hell out of a four cylinder hybrid.

And not just 0-60.

These CNG-powered cars didn’t cost a fortune – which made their economics much more sensible than most hybrids (and all electric cars).

They didn’t have functional gimps, either – and thus, were practical. Most could operate on either CNG or gasoline, so no worries about running out of CNG (as opposed to battery charge) and being stuck.

No range anxiety. No hours-long waits to refuel.

Even the infrastructure to provide for CNG refueling is already largely in place in most urban and suburban areas, because natural gas lines are already in place. If your home has a gas furnace or gas appliances you could also refuel a CNG-powered vehicle at home – and in minutes, not hours.

Massive government subsidies are not required. Not for the vehicles, not for the infrastructure/refueling facilities. As opposed to what would be absolutely necessary in order to make electric cars as mass-production vehicles functionally viable and leaving aside all the other considerations. Billions would have to be mulcted from taxpayers to erect a vast network of high-voltage “fast” chargers along the highways and secondary roads in order to keep hundreds of thousands – potentially, millions – of electric cars ambulatory.

And even if that were done, the Wait Issue remains.

Imagine it: Millions of people stuck for at least 30-40 minutes (best case scenario) to recharge their electric cars. The country – the economy – would literally come to a halt.

And – the really big one – CNG-powered vehicles run clean.

Much cleaner than today’s already very clean-running cars – because of the clean-burning nature of CNG. They may even run cleaner, in the aggregate, than so-called “zero emissions” electric cars – which may not emit emissions at their nonexistent tailpipes but the utility plants that burn oil and coal to produce the electricity that powers them most certainly do produce lots of emissions.

The fact that this is almost never brought up by the media doesn’t mean it’s not true.

One must also take into account the emissions generated during the very labor (and machine) intensive process of earth-rape necessary to manufacture electric cars and to obtain and process the raw materials used to make them and which are not needed to make CNG-powered cars.

Which are just like other cars, no hundreds of pounds of toxic batteries on board.

CNG-powered vehicles not only run cleaner, they run longer without needing things like oil changes. Service intervals can be increased by several thousand miles because burning CNG is clean; fewer contaminants are produced, so the oil doesn’t need to be replaced with fresh as often.

That’s good for the Earth, too.

CNG is also a fuel that exists in vast, almost unfathomable oceans underneath the United States – as opposed to under the control of Middle Eastern sheiks. And which doesn’t have to be refined from a precursor substance, such as petroleum.

CNG is therefore inexpensive.

It is estimated that there is enough natural gas in the United States alone to last for the next several hundred years, at least. Probably longer, because current estimates do not take into account the likelihood that additional vast oceans of natural gas will probably be found, to double or triple the currently known reserves. 

An interesting thing to consider:

If say a third of the vehicles in circulation were CNG-powered, it would reduce the national demand for oil by an equivalent amount, with the likely effect that gasoline would become even cheaper than it already is (about $2.20 a gallon as of late June). That would make electric cars even more economically absurd than they already are.

It would also do exactly what the chorus singing constantly the virtues of electric cars and hybrid cars warbles about: It would greatly reduce the country’s “dependence” on foreign oil.

Reserves would not be sucked down the national gullet so hungrily. There would be more gasoline – and for longer and for cheaper.

You’d think there’d be a clamor . . .

Almost any existing vehicle – including full-size trucks and SUVs – can be modified to run on CNG. The existing engine (and transmission) can be used. No re-engineering is necessary. No elaborate, expensive technology is necessary.

No diminishment of capability is involved.

All that is necessary is modifying the vehicle’s fuel delivery system to accommodate the CNG and reprogramming its ECU – the computer that controls the fuel system – for CNG operation.

No big – or expensive – deal.

The biggest thing – and it’s a small thing, really – is the CNG tanks. These are similar in look and size to SCUBA tanks and while they do take up a lot of space (usually, trunk-space) that can be counterbalanced by the simple expedient of making the trunk – or the vehicle – larger.

Mark that. Size, weight.  Capacity, capability and performance. None of these things have to be sacrificed or even compromised 

CNG is perfectly adaptable to large, powerful and capable vehicles. Full-size sedans and truck and big SUVs with big V8s.

And that is very interesting, indeed.

It may explain what happened to CNG-powered vehicles. 

They worked too well. Were too practical, too efficient.

They opened up a way for the average person to continue driving large, powerful and capable vehicles. Cars like the six-passenger/full-size Ford Crown Vic and Chevy Impala (old model, rear-wheel-drive and powered by  V8, unlike the current model, which is front-wheel-drive and comes standard with a four cylinder) and – potentially – large SUVs and trucks, also with V8s.

And at a reasonable price – less than the cost of a hybrid and far less than the cost of an electric car.

It could have changed everything – and for the better.

Instead, the cartel force-feeds us hybrids and electrics that make little if any economic sense. But which do make sense from a different perspective. Of course, that perspective isn’t our perspective.

Once you adjust perspective, it all makes sense.

And becomes very interesting, indeed.

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Qatar announces plans to boost its world-leading LNG production from 77 million to 100 million tons per year
    http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/qatar-eager-to-retain-lng-leadership

    LNG Exports(in million tons per year) and Market Share by Country
    Qatar, 77.2, 29.9%
    Australia, 44.3, 17.2%
    Malaysia, 25, 9.7%
    Nigeria, 18.6, 7.2%
    Indonesia, 16.6, 6.4%
    Algeria, 11.5, 4.5%
    Russia, 10.8, 4.2%
    Trinidad, 10.6, 4.1%
    Oman, 8.1, 3.2%
    PNG, 7.4, 2.9%
    Brunei, 6.3, 2.4%
    UAE, 5.6, 2.2%
    Norway, 4.3, 1.7%
    Peru, 4, 1.6%
    Eq. Guinea, 3.4, 1.3%
    US, 2.9, 1.1%
    Angola, 0.8, 0.3%
    Egypt, 0.5, 0.2%

    2017 World LNG Report – International Gas Union
    http://www.igu.org/sites/default/files/103419-World_IGU_Report_no%20crops.pdf

    Global LNG trade in 2016 reached a record 258 million tonnes (MT).
    China’s LNG consumption increased by 35% to 27 million tonnes per year (MTPY).

    The latter half of 2016 saw Asian and spot LNG prices reach $9.95 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) by February 2017. This followed a dip in price in the first half of the year to $4.05 MMBtu, the average Northeast Asian spot price for 2016 was $5.52 MMBtu. The UK National Balancing Point (NBP) finished 2016 at $5.44 MMBtu.

    In 2016 global liquefaction capacity reached 339.7 MTPY.
    Additional global liquefaction capacity of 114.6 MTPY is under construction as of January 2017.

  2. From Pakistan originally, and driven quite a lot of CNG cars there. Its brilliant actually, tuned correctly can be as powerful as a petrol, its clean (in a city like Karachi quite important) and most importantly its dirt cheap. So cheap in fact, that owning a basic hatchback (financing the car and cost of the conversion), insurance, and the cost of fuel for the car for a month was less than the cost of my tube pass (for just central London) when I first moved to here some years ago!! And it could have been even cheaper – what most people there do is buy up old cars, convert them to CNG and use them for decades as taxis or for transporting goods, till the parts disintegrate and the car returns to the earth from where it came….. now thats proper environmentally friendly if you ask me…..

  3. You Can Get 50+ MPG On Your Diesel Pickup!

    If you own a Diesel Pickup and convert it to dual fueled diesel and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) you can increase your engine life, increase your horsepower and pay less than half what you are paying for fuel now. Do your part to lessen emissions and air pollution.

    The Utah CNG Diesel Conversion Kits are low cost, easy-to-install and easy-to-operate.
    We offer FREE SHIPPING on all products and ship worldwide on a daily basis.

    All of our kits come with a full two year warranty on all parts. We
    use high quality regulators, valves, hoses, clamps and other fittings and we warranty all of it.

    How A Diesel CNG Kit Works:
    1. This is an easy to install kit on normally aspirated or turbo diesel engines.
    2. This is a dual fuel kit, so the engine runs on both diesel and CNG at the same time.
    3. This kit will provide you with more power. That is because of the high octane of the CNG and the
    compression of the diesel engine. Turbo diesels do very well with this kit!
    4. The regulator is very easily adjusted by the idle screw on the regulator so you use very little or no CNG at idle. When you accelerate the engine will pull CNG from the regulator into the air intake. The more you accelerate, the more CNG you use and the more horsepower you make. Depending on your adjustment you will get from 20 to 25% more power on average. Most people will run from 60 to 75 percent CNG with the balance being diesel fuel.
    5. The CNG is fed into the intake hose before the turbocharger. There is a control switch on the dash that will let you know if your CNG is being used and how much CNG fuel you have in your CNG tank. You can turn
    the CNG on or off at the push of a button. If you turn off, or run out of CNG the motor will continue to run on
    diesel fuel just as normal.

    We Have CNG Kits For Every Popular Diesel Truck Engine:

    1. All of our kits include a controller on the dash that will tell you which fuel you are using and
    how much CNG is in your tank.
    2. All of our kits allow you to run on either diesel alone or diesel and CNG at the push of a button.
    3 Our kits come with a regulator to allow for more power, better overall performance and better efficiency.
    4. All Utah CNG kits are rated at 3600 PSI and come complete with everything
    you need for installation- including the CNG tank fill nozzle.

    Utah CNG Diesel CNG Conversion Kits. 4, 6 or 8 Cylinder Engines
    http://utah-cng.com/

    Call (435) 577-2442. jdaltonautobody@yahoo.com
    UTAH CNG, POB 147, 351 W 400 S, Circleville, Utah. USA

  4. Country #Nat Gas Vehicles Fuel Stations Data Year-Month
    1 China 5,000,000 7,950 2015 June
    2 Iran 4,000,000 2,360 2016 November
    3 Pakistan 3,000,000 3,416 2016 November
    4 Argentina 2,295,000 2,014 2016 October
    5 India 1,800,000 1,053 2013 November
    6 Brazil 1,781,102 1,805 2015 November
    7 Italy 883,190 1,104 2016 June
    8 Colombia 556,548 790 2017 March
    9 Thailand 474,486 502 2016 July
    10 Uzbekistan 450,000 213 2013 June
    11 Ukraine 390,000 324 2012 May
    12 Bolivia 360,000 156 2016 October
    13 Armenia 244,000 345 2011 December
    14 Venezuela 226,100 207 2015 December
    15 Peru 224,035 277 2016 September
    16 Bangladesh 220,000 585 2013 April
    17 Egypt 185,000 162 2011 July
    18 United States 160,000 1,750 2015 December
    19 Russia 145,000 303 2016 October
    20 Germany 98,172 914 2015 November

  5. Everyone has heard the phrase: “Follow the money.” I think a better phrase would be: “Follow the Crony” because a lot of private money gets well spent honestly. I did a little research on energy subsidies and found that defining what a subsidy is and is not isn’t so cut and dried. A Forbes article I read defended oil subsidies by saying that they get the same subsidies as any other business in certain areas, and by stating certain other subsidies are not subsidies at all. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies is a good source of information to the best of my limited knowledge. I say that the state should not be involved in income redistribution or forced taxation at any level, because doing so attracts cronies.

        • Energy producers pay more in severance tax to the state of Wyoming than they do the federal government. Or, at least they did, before the EPA shut down the coal mines and the well drilling.

          • Coal’s Economic Impact on WY

            Coal is an important source of income for Wyoming, and is the second largest source of tax revenue for state and local government. Coal mining companies pay tax and royalty payments to all branches of government, federal, state, and local. In Wyoming, coal contributes over $1 billion annually in revenue to state and local governments.

            Federal Royalties, $259.3 million
            Severance Tax, $288.5 million
            Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Distributions: $26.9 million
            Ad Valorem Tax on Production, $251.6 million
            Ad Valorem Tax on Property: $30.3 million
            Federal Mineral Bonus Payments: $237.5 million
            Sales and Use Tax: $31 million
            State Royalties and Rents: $39.4 million

            Wyoming Mining Association: Economics of Mining in Wyoming

            Natural Gas pays $181 million + 175 million to WY annually.

            Oil pays $206 million + $195 million to WY annually.

            • It should be noted that all of those statistics were from a year before the EPA shut down all of the coal mines in Wyoming and put most of their operators out of business. Peabody is the most significant survivor, and they are in bankruptcy.
              The state legislature is dealing with a financial extinction event which threatens to shut down several state government departments, starting with education, where they are predicting a $200 million dollar annual deficit, and fixing it with $2 million in cuts.

              • Good catch Bill.

                S&P downgrades Wyoming credit rating, cites pension funding

                BY ROB KOZLOWSKI · MAY 3, 2017

                Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings lowered its issuer credit rating for Wyoming to AA+ from AAA due in part to low pension funding levels, the ratings agency announced on Wednesday.

                The agency primarily cites the reason for the AA+ as what they view as “an economy based on mining, tourism, agriculture and governmental employment that is now experiencing a downturn as the result of a decline in energy prices, following a previous energy-related economic boom,” the agency’s report said.

                The agency cited that annual retirement contributions have been “somewhat less that the actuarial annually determined contribution” and also cited the $8.2 billion Wyoming Retirement System’s 7.75% return assumption as aggressive. It said those combined factors have contributed to a “relatively low three-year average pension funded ratio of 78%.”

                • Wyoming shouldn’t need a credit rating since it isn’t allowed to go into debt.
                  The problem is that Wyoming has a quite disproportionate amount of government for its population, and WYDOT is its own kingdom, with its own sacrosanct budget, communications networks, and army, since the Wyoming’s State Patrol is part of WYDOT. Wyoming’s teachers are very well compensated at the same time that its students’ test scores are slowly falling.
                  Having passed a permitless concealed carry several year ago, the schools are still gun-free zones, with single resource officers responsible for entire urban districts. While there is the usual percentage of gifted students here as elsewhere, the military is where they tend to go, further militarizing the population. Most of them wouldn’t recognize the difference between the Constitution and the Communist Manifesto, neither being a major part of their curriculum. Fortunately the majority of the gunowners are fully aware of the differences in a place where there are 14 registered guns per capita.

  6. To have equivalent range a car with a 17 gal gas tank would need to have a 15985 gal natural gas tank. Or a 160 gal CNG tank. The CNG GGE price is $1.35/gal equivalent tho on the plus side.

    1 gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds. Lighter than water which is a pint a pound or 8 pounds per gallon.

    E10 gasoline is 18095 Btu/lb

    CNG is 20,160 Btu/lb

    Nowhere on the net is this honestly explained. Everywhere uses common core new math obscurification agenda speak.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3boy_tLWeqA

    Brawndo Fuels got what cars crave.

  7. My estimation for why CNG vehicles aren’t working on a national level is because they DIDN’T require extra governmental fatwas; they work with what we have already.

    I have an older SUV that I recently converted to CNG for the reasons cited. Oklahoma is at the forefront of CNG technology, and will be for a long time. Even our gas utility offices have CNG pumps that are open to the public.

    But your article demonstrates one thing about Uncle Samuel: He wants to find things he can meddle with, rather than things that already work. His solution for things that work is to break them. He would rather spend money to create another infrastructure system for fuel delivery than foster a system that works as is, because spending money is his way of controlling events.

    This is why studies that give unintended results never get published. If the sponsor of the study doesn’t like the results of the study, they just throw away the entire study. If they get the results they wanted, they tout it forever.

    • Hi Travis,

      I agree.

      Brent and others here have observed – rightly – that as soon as an “alternative” works or there is s a chance it could, it either goes away or suddenly becomes even more expensive than the thing it was ostensibly created to replace.

      This is what will happen with electric cars, if they ever become functionally practical.

  8. Most of the city buses here and in other cities I’ve been to use CNG. Makes sense for that usage since they don’t travel a lot of miles per day and they all return to a common depot for refueling at the end of the day. I think using it in cars would depend on the availability of refueling stations in your area.

  9. I converted my Ford Ranger into a dual purpose vehicle when the price of gas went up to 5$ a gallon. Ethanol stations were springing up all over. Then big oil decided to drop the price of gas below that of ethanol to undercut them. As the factories went out of business big oil bought them up and afterwards raised the price of gas again. Funny how they do that.

  10. CNG cars are all over the place in New Delhi. In fact, taxis are mandated to use it. Been there-seen it. And they work EXACTLY as you say.

  11. CNG cars are all over the place in New Delhi. In fact, taxis are mandated to use it. Been there-seen it. And they work EXACTLY as you say.

  12. I have a 2000 F150-7700 with the 5.4 triton engine and dual fuel, 10 gallon CNG tank in the bed.
    Unfortunately the tank has expired, no integrity testing such as is done daily on welding tanks, is available or legally recognized, and so if I fill the tank I am facing a $1500 fine. To replace the tank and old and tired injectors in $4000 – on a truck barely worth that figure. CNG is $1.76 per gallon where I live, and I get 14 mpg. Gasoline is $2.45 per gallon and I get 16.5 mpg – I cannot afford to put in the new system on a truck that has only 144K miles, but my commute is so long that I would have to fill the tank every single day – or run on gas at $17.50 per day.
    If money were no object I would get a simultaneous CNG/Diesel turbo charger truck; the CNG cleans up the exhaust to be as clean as a car engine, oil essentially never gets dirty, it just has to be changed as it wears out, maybe once a year.
    The EPA has de-listed all dual fuel vehicles from the “Clean” list, so I can no longer use the HOV lane for commuting, because reality has no grip on their decisions.
    I am open to any suggestions at this point.

    • Is the CNG tank the same as a propane tank? If so, you might be able to get it recertified for propane. I don’t know how difficult it would be to adjust the carburetion to propane, but it might be worth checking out since you are already set up for dual fuel. I don’t which state you live in, but it definitely doesn’t sound like Wyoming. I haven’t had a long commute since I became a vandweller, FWIW:-) Good luck.

  13. We are the BRC/Cubo Gas Rep for most of the Pacific Coast States. And, yes, CNG is alive and well in the US! We are located in Downtown, Redmond, Washington just a short hop out of Seattle. My Silverado is bi fuel. I fill up with my home filling station and run all day on CNG at the $1.10/gallon gas equivalent. that includes the cost of electricity to run the compressor. And I never worry about running out of fuel since I can switch over to gasoline at anytime. Cost about $7,500 for vehicle conversion and about another 7k for a home, or work, refueling station. All sytems usually pay for themselves if you own you vehicle for more that 60,000 miles and get around 15-17 MPG on your vehicle. We have a very cool unit that can fill two vehicles at a time….

  14. There’s a good chance of striking natural gas when you drill a hole in the ground where I live. Some people heat their homes with their own gas. If you can establish a well, all you’d need is a gas compressor, and you’d have your own free source of vehicle fuel! Probably one of the reasons they are letting CNG fall by the wayside….it would promote total energy independence for a good number of people!

    [See ya soon guys….been really bust. Haven’t even had time to read articles, much less comments by the Chink and the Polock! 😀 ]

    • The only reason why a compressor would be required is if the natural pressure of release was lower than the required manifold pressure to operate a regulator.
      Most of the noxious output from burning a properly carbureted methane burning engine would come from reactions involving mercaptan, which wouldn’t be present in a release from a well.
      The cost of compliance with the road fuel tax requirements would probably be greater than the assessment value of the methane in question.
      There have never been as many CNG fueling points as there are gasoline or diesel, although there are probably more for propane than for CNG.
      Most vehicle manufacturers still have CNG and/or propane options that, because they are rarely exercised, are not promoted.

      • Bill, for use in cars, ya need to compress it….or you wouldn’t be able to carry enough of it around to drive a mile…

          • CNG is still completely a gas (mostly methane gas) with no liquid pooling. Under 3300 psi it occupies less than 1% of it’s usual volume at natural sea level temp and pressure
            http://www.cngnow.com/what-is-cng/Pages/default.aspx

            To make it a liquid would require compressing 6x more. Which no one does. Instead it’s made into a liquid by lowering it’s Temp, not using any compression.

            The same wouldbe CNG compound is renamed Liquefied natural gas (LNG). This natural gas (same stuff, still predominantly methane, CH4) is converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport.

            Liquefied natural gas takes up 0.166% the volume of natural gas in its usual state. It’s additional hazards include flammability after vaporization, freezing, and asphyxia.

            The liquefaction process involves removal of dust, acid gases, helium, water, and heavy hydrocarbons. The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure by cooling it to −260 °F.

            LNG energy density is 2.4 times greater than that of CNG or 60% that of diesel fuel making it cost efficient to transport over long distances. Specially designed cryogenic sea vessels (LNG carriers) or cryogenic road tankers are used for its transport.

            LNG is used for transporting natural gas to markets, and LNG-fueled road vehicles.

            In a highly refined form, liquid methane is used as a rocket fuel.

            • Compression does the same thing as refrigeration by dropping the phase pressure. Liquefaction is the same in all gases, most of which sublimate upon release at room temperature.

              • True.

                I’d guess CNG isn’t compressed at 16,000 or whatever psi is needed to liquefy it for economic reasons.

                Cheaper to deal with a lower energy density gas in some cases.

                Here’s an air separation plant near me
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwRT17U4QHg

                Hopefully soon someone will privatize all the oxygen now freely available in the air and we’ll all need to generate value to get funds to pay a breathing solutions provider to live.

                No more gibs you lazy proles.

                The bottled air industry will generate trillions in profits and create many exciting new jobs

                • Most of the market for methane is pipeline provided to buildings. Propane provides 2.4 times as many BTUs than methane does at the same cf, so it is clearly the best fuel. The only consideration is the cost, and pipeline delivered methane is hard to beat.

                  • It’s the best given the prevailing enforced paradigms.

                    Natural gas is required to include mercaptan which makes it seem evil and reaking of rotten eggs.

                    Natural gas is about 40 per cent lighter than air, it will ignite at temperatures above 1,000 degrees and burn when at a mix 4-15% per cent volume in air.

                    Natural gas is primarily composed of methane, but also contains ethane, propane and heavier hydrocarbons. It also contains small amounts of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and trace amounts of water.

                    The monthly average chemical compositions of natural gas for Victoria Square, which supplies the Greater Toronto Area.
                    https://www.enbridgegas.com/assets/docs/Victoria%20Square%20Stn%20No%2050139%20May.pdf

                    95% methane
                    3% ethane
                    1% nitrogen
                    1034 BTU/cf

  15. CNG tanks are expensive and typically need to be replaced when the vehicle is still road worthy but not worth the expense of replacement.

  16. Dear Eric,

    Very interesting article on CNG powered vehicles, thank you.

    I hope in a future article, you investigate the steam powered car era. Did you know that General Motors contracted with a automotive designer to build a prototype named the Chevelle SE-124 in 1969? Here is a summary of the car’s development and performance (see: http://www.kimmelsteam.com/1969chevelle.html ).

    Perhaps returning to steam power might be a better choice than ‘lectric cars, too.

  17. Eric:
    ALL the positives you mention are the reasons CNG and LP will never be allowed to flourish here.
    Around the turn of the century there was a Canadian outfit installing LP or CNG pumps in your garage at home, if you had access. They were pricy, too. I’ll have to see if they are still around.
    I also recall seeing many 60’s Mercedes with “dual fuel” carbs that were easily switched from gasoline to compressed gas. It was worth importing used cars from Europe for resale back then…
    TPTB are already pushing more of us into tiny apartments in big cities where bus and subway are the preferred modes of transport. Apparatchiks “allowed” to live in the ‘burbs will have short range electric cars to commute from, say, Hoboken to Manhattan where they will have to be plugged in all day for the trip back home. That will also discourage anyone from “running away” as will exorbitant tolls collected by well armed toll collectors with easily implemented spike strips and hydraulic pop up car blockers. All for our protection and safety, of course.
    Besides, all the snowflakes *know* the electric car chargers are powered by vast solar panel arrays and wind turbine farms built out there where those mean old farmers used to enslave all the pigs, cows and chickens, don’t you know… And we’ll never run out of Soylent Green.

  18. Great article. I’ve agreed with this for decades — I recall seeing a CNG Ford Fairmont in the early 1980s and thinking “This is the OBVIOUS solution to the next Arab oil crisis.”

    Speaking of Arab oil crises, those buggers have very cleverly calculated how rig the crude oil markets just to the point where domestic energy alternatives to oil aren’t economically feasible. However, that won’t last forever.

    The other side of the equation is the pie-in-the sky solar and green energy types have a cult-like, quasi-religious mentality and a very effective lobby. They’ve prevented sensible and relatively clean alternatives like CNG for being considered because 1) NG is still a “fossil fuel” and 2) a lot of our NG comes from fracking — (and if you want to throw these people into an apoplectic fit, mention fracking. )

    Merle Haggard had these people figured out when he wrote the third verse to “Rainbow Stew” mocking them back in 1981…

    “When they find out how to burn water
    And the gasoline car is gone
    When an airplane flies without any fuel
    And the satellite heats our home
    But one of these days when the air clears up
    And the sun comes shinin’ through
    We’ll all be drinkin’ that free bubble-ubb
    And eatin’ that rainbow stew”

  19. There are quite a few places for CNG fill up in southwest suburbs of Houston as well as on I-10 in Texas. Apache oil co. has a CNG fill up station in their parking garage in their Houston office. There are more out there than you think.

  20. Another “second car” solution. Or local fleets only solution. Chicken and egg problem. The gasoline infrastructure is so imbedded that even when there’s a station that offers it along with death dogs and 3.2 beer it doesn’t ever get any traction. You have to plan a trip, and think ahead because it’s unlikely you’ll find a filling station at your destination, even though there’s probably nat gas pipelines running under the street you’re driving over. But there’s gasoline stations pretty much everywhere.

    Too much time wasted in pilot programs, test programs, government programs and no one ever gets beyond the research phase. Then there’s the whole Hindenburg perception even though it’s probably much safer than gasoline in an accident. And I’ll bet the local gas company will force any station owner to “upgrade” the mains past the station in anticipation of a world where 80% of all vehicles will be CNG if he wants to hook into the line.

    Another problem is that in places like the northeast that natural gas is earmarked for heating in the winter. A prolonged cold spell means there’s much less nat gas to go around. I’ve read that the northeast US is underserved by gas pipelines for the worst of the cold spells, although I’m no expert. Power companies in the northeast will usually have several days’ worth of diesel stored over the winter for peaking plants just because the natural gas turbines can’t get enough to run. Yes, that’s a solvable problem, but not in today’s world where engineers are forced to install infrastructure without actually installing any infrastructure (since that would harm someone or some thing).

  21. Over here in Europe, CNG cars are pretty popular, as are diesel. But, gas is about 1.25 Euro a liter, diesel is about 1.07 Euro a liter and CNG is 60 cents a liter. My wife’s cousin has a Dacia Sandero that runs on gas or CNG. The CNG tank is in the hole in the trunk where the spare tire used to be. The spigot to fill the CNG tank is located under the same door as where you fill up with gas. They are right next to each other. He is more than happy with the performance and the cost of running CNG. I need to ask him how many kilometers he gets with CNG as well as with regular gas. I know CNG does not contain as much energy as gas, so I’m sure he gets less with CNG. Not every gas station sells CNG, but its not a problem to find. I’ve even seen CNG pumps next to shopping center parking lots that only sold CNG, not gas or diesel. There are many things in Europe that you don’t see much of in the US, including city buses that “connect” to an overhead electric grid that runs down a cities main roadways.

  22. I was in the natural gas industry in the USA. There were many who looked at CNG conversion for their fleets. The problem was the uncertainty of the natural gas price. The hydrocarbon energy industry has a history of doing this – dropping prices to run competitors out of business and trapping capital of those customers who had made the conversion. Fleet owners were concerned about spending a lot of $ for conversion and then having the price of natural gas go up or said another way having the price of gasoline drop to make natural gas plus the conversion costs not economical. The other concern was the lack of fueling locations although as stated in the article a nationwide natural gas pipeline infrastructure exists from wellhead to burn tip for most urban and suburban areas. No need for oil refineries to manufacture natural gas as is the case with gasoline. No need to have gasoline trucks on the road. No need for natural gas to be transported from wellhead to refinery by long lines of rail tankers.

  23. Just curious, if you get in an accident are the CNG tanks dangerous and a significant risk to explode or catch fire?

  24. i was involved in the vehicular cng conversion con.

    and it was a con. do believe me.

    there was never enough money to convert a gasoline delivery matrix nationwide to cng.

    and refueling cng is quite a bit more difficult and time consuming than refueling with gasoline[which also had a great nationwide refueling network].

    and then there was the notion that if one had a residence using natural gas then one could refuel one’s cng vehicle at home, in the garage. well, not if one had to conform to codes. and to bring the garages up to codes to accommodate cng refueling, well, you had better have had deep pockets.

    japan has cng-fueled taxis. guess what, they have no trunk space. hiring such a taxi in downtown tokyo taxi to get to the airport means that you will need to be traveling without any luggage.

    i was closely involved in the cng conversions of diesel-powered transit buses. the most expensive buses to operate in the history of transit buses. could not have been affordable without the u.s. taxpayer[who underwrote the expenditures].

    i think of UPS who has trialed all kinds of fuels in its vehicles. once upon a time, they tried methanol. well that was an astonishing bust[never written about by the way].

    then, cng was trialed.

    i don’t see any of those around in metro houston these days. what i see is propane-fueled UPS vans.

    and i could go so much further. back in the day, the DOE financed the burlington road to run cng locis. when the federal funds ran out, cng locis were abandoned.

    and a railroad application made some infrastructural sense. unlike car/truck like vehicles on public roads and highways.

    but, when the costs of operation, maintenance were totaled up, after the DOE money ran out, the burlington road abandoned cng as a loci fuel.

    there is a history out there of cng as a fuel. and it is not one that is kind to cng.

    it was tried. it failed.

    • I think you’re simply showing that the energy density of liquid petroleum cannot be beat. The only way you can beat oil is by stacking the deck with political interventions, which doesn’t change the physics, only the wealth, and who has it.

  25. You can also keep vehicle size constant, and just make up the CNG tank space with a smaller conventional gasoline tank. A tank with 150-200 mile range is still pretty practical, especially if you can add a like distance in CNG range on top of it. Or maximize CNG range and delete the gas tank altogether. There are options here.

  26. One of the big local concrete companies in the Chicago area has a natural gas powered fleet (Ozinga). I believe all their pickups and their mixers are CNG powered. They have their own fueling stations on their yards. The drivers I have talked with love the trucks.

    Its been so successful for them they opened an entirely new CNG division, offering CNG energy services to other firms.

  27. A fair number of school buses around Texas are run on CNG (why? See the map above). They seem to have the same acceleration as the diesel ones, only without the black soot.

  28. The CNG solution worked very well. The entire taxi fleet of Denver, CO. went CNG in the 90’s, and may still be for all I know. But the only real purpose of the electric cars is to further the self-interest of maggots like Elon Musk and his govt. cronies, a collective of parasites, whose only talent is to rob and bilk wage earners for their own wealth and power gain.

  29. What happened is lobbyists and crony government. There is big money in batteries and electronics, big money is big bribes and influence. It always follows the money.

    Vitamin D might be the most important suppliment for preventing virtually all disease, yet it is not prescribed and barely ever talked about. Why? It costs almost nothing to take. There is no money in it.

        • My introduction to G. Edward Griffin was finding a copy of volume 1 of World Without Cancer in the quarter bin in front of a bookstore, where he explains the chemistry of B17, amygdalin, or laetrile, which contains a compound that contains cyanide. Normal cells have rhodanese, which neutralizes cyanide. Cancer cells have beta-glucosidase which is a enzyme that can unlock cyanide and benzaldahyde from their tight bond with glucose and allow them to kill the cancer cell. This is not very preventative since cancer has to exist to produce the enzyme to release the poisons that kill it, but it is a very effective and virtually non-toxic natural chemotherapy.

          • As I have read chemotherapy uses baking soda as a buffer or some such purpose. Some say baking soda will kill cancer cells yet no study has ever been done to see if non-toxic baking soda is actually the effective ingredient. Furthermore massive doses of vitamin C. All these cheap non-toxic things languish as being in the land of quacks and kooks so the mainstream doesn’t have to spend any time on them. When they do, they change the study parameters so it will fail.

            • One of the products of the exocrine part of the pancreas is “bicarb” which is baking soda, it is ducted into the small intestine to neutralize the acid spilling out of the stomach, which would mess up the strongly alkaline small intestine.
              Injected intravenously, it is a common intervention for a myocardial infarction which is sometimes caused by acidic blood. AMA approved medical schools, which is most of them in North America don’t reach anything but pharmaceutical therapies. Nutrition gets less than a couple of class periods. Many modern MDs are waking up the silliness of this situation, but trophy-wife pharmaceutical reps giving away CEU-bearing opportunities in exotic locals are difficult to resist.

  30. Even better: It’s trivial to split hydrogen off of CNG and run it through a fuel cell capturing 100% of the waste products from the donor CNG. You can then use the waste to rebuild more biogas ultra-efficiently making the car several orders of magnitude less polluting than even standard combustion CNG.

    But we’re all about magic and unicorns of solar and wind that can’t ever produce enough power to make up for more dense energy sources while we decommission nuclear plants that are by far the least polluting sources of energy we have. *head bang*

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