Will we all use Naural Gas in the future?

There is an interesting article in the Baltimore Sun this morning.


The estimated reserves are the equivalent of 110-billion barrels of oil. That’s enough to fuel our cars, power plants, and heat our homes for between 100 to 200 years. The only car generally available that uses CNG is the Honda Civic CNG. It costs $1.66 to drive 25 miles in this car vs. $2.43 in a gasoline Civic (EPA mileage filgures). Clearly, there would have to be changes in car manufacturing and fuel distribution to make this work. A lot of fleet vehickles, especially municipal buses use CNG. But this would be a huge change. What do you think?

Natural gas has some very good characteristics, but also some problems. Time will tell. As it is today, I am not sure I want all those cars out there with compressed natural gas in them. Give it some more time.

I would guess that cost comparison does not adjust for road taxes not being charged on the NG and if not collected at the pump, will result in some other tax or reduced road maintenance.

I lived in a city where most of the taxis were CNG powered, and they were pleasantly clean running. However the government had to subidize the conversions.

T. Boone Pickens would like us all to use CNG, but the range is much shorter and the tanks bulky. New Zealand and the Po valley of Italy are the only areas I know with very extensive CNG use. Sure, it’s possible but it take an adjustment in driving habits.

I agree. If we were really serious about getting off oil, we’d be converting more aggressively. Right now, the oil infrastructure is already in place and there’s still plenty of “black gold” to be mined and it’s more profit motivation than what is actually the “best” thing to do. Unless of course, you’re one of those who believes profit motivation is the best means to an end.

At the least. In addition to public transportation I would hope more NG and propane lawn mowers and other tools and recreational vehicles would soon start hitting the market at more affordable prices.

In the near future, maybe…as a stopgap while waiting for better electric cars.

Cars burning heavier fossil fuels are already so clean that the environmental benefits would be minimal. The benefits are mostly political. You don’t need as much emissions equipment, and in some configurations it might be a little more efficient, but it still emits a lot of CO2.

Natural gas infrastructure is more or less in place in most US cities. Instead of refueling at the gas station, you can refuel at home. And for that matter, gas stations can just connect to the existing networks. As alternate fuels go, natural gas is one of the simpler ones to implement, infrastructure-wise.

I hear you but my point is, if they started on an equal footing, NG might be the option of choice. The change will be slow, not because NG distribution can’t be put in place, but oil already is. They are two competing infrastructures with one still having huge profit potential w/o NG competition. BTW, give the present home NG pressures and over night fill up I don’t consider NG infrastructure any more functional than electricity.

I’m skeptical about using natural gas at home for a few reasons.

First, how much would it cost to install a refueling system, and would many people really want one in their house? Sure, some folks would, but I doubt that most would. I suspect that the cost to compress it and load it safely into a car would be more than most would care to spend up front.

I already mentioned safety, and that’s another issue. I use natural gas safely now heating water, cooking food, and in the furnace. But it seems to me that safe systems might be required to be installed by professionals, driving up the cost.

A third issue is taxes. Anyone that buys NG for their car will have to pay equivalent taxes to the gasoline they buy now. People that use biodiesel that they make at home are required to pay taxes to the state based on the amount of fuel they use. I suppose that we could do the same with CNG, but it seems like that is a system where lots of under-reporting will take place. Tax fraud will just lead to higher taxes for everyone else, since the same amount of income is required for the same programs that fuel taxes pay for today.

I agree that today’s gas stations could be easily converted to supply CNG, but the cost is enormous even if it is simple. I’d like to see us depend more on CNG and maybe make it the major fuel, at least in the Eastern US, as Brazil has done with ethanol. It could take 10 to 20 years for the conversion, but it makes sense to me to start in the next 5 years or so.

I agree that CNG could be used until battery technology provides about 20 to 30 times the range of today’s batteries. CNG could also be used for long haul work in light vehicles, and might be a good alternative for hybrid cars, especially the next generation hybrids, like the Volt, that get up to 40 miles on battery before switching to an alternate power source.

My guess since lp has not even hit the radar, and electric seems the obvious manufacturer target, we will not see lp cars. Though there are many existing and proposed natural gas electric generating facilities.

While it’s pretty straightforward, the test I saw on another site of the Civic CNG version didn’t make it sound too appealing. Slower, and you have to get the in-house fueling system ‘Phill’ installed if a CNG station isn’t near, at a pretty substantial cost. The one advantage they kept talking about was the carpool sticker that let them use the carpool lane with only one person. Pure politics. And I also think that 1.66 vs. 2.43 ignores taxes, which would make them even.

Natural Gas will be like biodiesel: a way to extend the oil reserves until alternative fueled vehicles are developed.

Most people want to take an occasional road trip. Nowadays the availability of CNG is very spotty. Driving across the continent on CNG might be possible, but it would be an adventure. And pricing is quite variable across the country. In Northwest Vermont where I live it is available at only one station and is not much cheaper than gasoline. Here’s a web site http://www.cngprices.com/

The tanks are said to be bulky.

The EPA has some outlandish regulations that make it extremely expensive to convert a vehicle to CNG. Having grown up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, I know what lousy air looks and feels like and I generally support emissions controls and environmental regulation. But these EPA rules that apparently require tens of thousands of dollars for a type approval in order to convert a single vehicle from gasoline to CNG look on the surface to be stupid and counterproductive. Someone really ought to look into this.

Energy companies will find a way of including natural gas in the mix to the extent of oil when it provides as much profit. Any change in auto technology that means additional sales for the automotive industry would be embraced by them as well. You and I will pay dearly for these products and the simple self sustaining solutions like generating your own electricity cheaply will be avoided. Gas will eventually play a roll, for a price. Look how much more a propane powered mower cost when the technology is actually simpler. http://home.earthlink.net/~lenyr/pplmwr.htm

Cars burning heavier fossil fuels are already so clean that the environmental benefits would be minimal.

Cars are much cleaner now then they were 20 years ago…but they don’t even come close to running as clean a car equipped with NG.

You can get the propane powered string trimmers now-Kevin

As a resident of the biggest city in Applalachia, I live (virtually) atop some of the prime Marcellus shale gasfields, and I would LOVE to run my car on a fuel sourced a couple of counties over vs. halfway around the world. Also, 129 octane would allow efficiency gains from higher compression, too.

Unfortunately, little seems to be done about infrasturcture, even in a state where there’s an obvious fiscal benefit to doing so.

Apparently, it is just now becoming widely available. It will take time for the shale gas to get to our homes and even longer to get into cars. I believe that I benefitted this year from the lower NG price for home heating, but I did not last winter.

Actually, large volumes of shale gas is being produced now in many areas, resulting in something of a glut in gas markets. That’s why natural gas prices are only about $4/MMBTU, much lower that needed for active continued development of the shale gas, which requires expensive wells.

Cheap gas! It’s music to my ears!