Is CNG A Viable Fuel Source?
by Vintage Road Haulage
A look at this increasingly popular fuel source
CNG, or compressed natural gas, is a form of natural gas used to fuel road vehicles of all types.
The gas itself is precisely the same natural gas that is used globally for heating, cooking, and energy production. CNG consists of 90% methane, with the remainder composed of a mixture of other elements, such as butane and nitrogen.
CNG aims to bring all of the benefits of natural gas to road transport vehicles. In order to do so efficiently the natural gas is compressed. It is reduced to less than one hundredth of its natural volume to allow it to be stored and distributed practically.
It can be used in vehicles with purpose-built CNG engines and engines constructed for use with other fuel types can easily be converted to run on CNG.
Environmental Benefits of CNG
CNG has less impact on the environment than petrol, diesel or LPG (liquid petroleum gas).
When used by vehicles, CNG produces lower levels of emissions than traditional vehicle fuels. When processed, CNG produces mostly water and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide emissions produced by CNG vehicles are up to 20-25% lower than those of oil-based fuel vehicles.
CNG also produces significantly lower emission of other harmful chemicals, like nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. In the case of leakage, CNG naturally dissipates into the air, removing the danger of environmental damage caused by toxic oil-based fuel spills. CNG is a non-toxic substance, producing no harmful effects upon exposure.
Practical Benefits of CNG
Practically, CNG offers many benefits. CNG is a more efficiently burning fuel, making it cost effective for both individuals and companies.
Refuelling takes about the same time as for other fuel types, and is also a more efficient and cleaner process. For nations such as the Australia and the US that have a local supply of natural gas, CNG can offer a consistently reliable fuel supply at stable prices.
CNG is independent of international oil trade, and so is unaffected by the variations in prices and supply that are associated with this turbulent market.
Many of these benefits are making CNG particularly attractive to bus and haulage companies for use in their transport fleets.
Is CNG Safe?
The safety of CNG has been demonstrated both in testing and in its proven track record of international use. The characteristics of natural gas make it naturally less combustible than petrol or diesel. The fact that it dissipates means that it is removed from the area of the leak, should one occur.
It also takes a significantly higher temperature to ignite CNG than other fuels; it ignites at 600 degrees Celsius, whereas petrol only requires a temperature of 315 degrees for ignition.
CNG storage containers have been designed to the highest safety standards, and have been show in testing to withstand extreme levels of impact.
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