Connecting the CNG Dots
And the Winner Is …
CNG is gas supplied by a local utility through existing supply lines, compressed at the pump and stored onboard in pressurized tanks to allow for adequate driving ranges. Priced currently up to $1.90 less per gasoline-gallon equivalent than conventional gasoline, the use of CNG reduces fuel costs significantly for vehicle and fleet owners and lowers greenhouse-gas emissions up to 23% in medium- to heavy-duty vehicles. CNG fuel systems are completely sealed, and CNG vehicles produce no evaporative emissions. It also produces at least equal to a slight efficiency mpg advantage over conventional gasoline. What’s more, some fleet operators have reported that engine maintenance costs are reduced by as much as 40% by converting their fleets to CNG. And these conversions are reliable and make economic sense by breaking even sometimes in two to three years.
Also, natural gas is a secure, abundant North American energy source: Ninety-eight percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in the United States and Canada. There is no need for large underground storage tanks at retail gas stations because only minimal backup storage, in the form of a few smaller aboveground cylinders, is needed. Onboard vehicle canisters have no safety concerns if properly installed and certified. For retail station owners, CNG is environmentally safe because any leak will not cause soil or water contamination, as with other liquid fuels. Also, CNG does not have to be trucked in like its LPG and LNG brethren.
Moreover, there is an existing natural-gas distribution system already in place, with 2.2 million miles of transmission and distribution pipes throughout the United States. And at the time of this writing, New York Gov. Cuomo had announced that $6 million will be available in vouchers of up to $40,000 for the purchase or lease of CNG (and electric) trucks in New York City, which is likely to start a trend. This incentive also allows for repowering a diesel truck with CNG. The alternative-fuels voucher and diesel retrofit funding for NYC were scheduled to have begun by press time.
So, based on the foregoing, it is CNG, I believe, with its significant availability, environmental and cost-savings benefits, that has the greatest chance of becoming our most successful mass-market alternative fuel for transportation vehicles. It is for this reason that my firm is partnering with Trio Energy Group, a New York-based company that is bringing CNG to the retail gasoline market. While it is still early in the product life cycle, CNG will be coming to a neighborhood near you.