Natural Gas, a Non-renewable Resource
Advantages and drawbacks
The advantages of Natural Gas include:
- Natural gas is nontoxic. Because the fuel is odorless, odorants are added to make leaks easier to detect.
- CNG burns more completely than gasoline and has a high octane rating of 130 (compared with 86-92 for gasoline). Because CNG is a gas, it is not required to vaporize. Mixing in the combustion chamber is more complete than gasoline. CNG performs better than gasoline-powered vehicles under cold-start conditions.
- Refueling with CNG can be done at home, or on-site at a commercial business using a relatively inexpensive fuel delivery appliance.
- Because it burns cleanly, CNG powered vehicles leave fewer carbon deposits on internal engine components. This can reduce maintenance requirements (oil/filter changes) and extend the life of the engine without major overhaul.
- The price of natural gas is generally competitive with gasoline, and is generally supported by government and commercial distributor incentives. The price can very by season and locale.
The drawbacks of natural gas include:
- Natural gas is lighter than air and rises, a characteristic that creates a possible risk of explosion and/or asphyxiation in enclosed areas. (LNG vehicles should never be parked indoors where possible ignition sources exist.)
- Natural gas refueling stations are expensive to build, and present demand for CNG vehicles is relatively low. Therefore, refueling stations are not always plentiful or conveniently located. There are a little over 1,000 CNG and less than 100 LNG public refueling stations in the US.
- nd number of fuel cylinders may reduce the payload capacity of a vehicle, particularly in converted or bi-fuel vehicles.
- When stored at a pressure of 3,600 psi, CNG provides about one-fourth the energy density of gasoline. The range of a CNG vehicle depends on the capacity to store fuel, but generally it is less than (about one-half) that of gasoline-fueled vehicles.