Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV)

Today I am writing about NGV’s or “natural gas vehicles”. I have always had a fascination with cars and engines. When I was attending Cal Poly in the 90’s I picked Natural Gas Vehicles as the topic of my senior project. I took my small Toyota pickup and converted it to run on Natural Gas. I was able to do the conversion myself and I drove the truck around until I sold it. I really enjoyed it because the fuel was cheap and it burns a lot cleaner and I have been following the topic ever since.

About ten years ago I drove a Honda Civic that ran exclusively on natural gas and it had another really big benefit. I could drive in the carpool lane. I was going back and forth to Irvine so that saved me about an hour of driving per day.

What is a Natural Gas Car?

Basically it’s just like a regular gasoline car… it has the same kind of engine and when you are driving, it feels like a normal car. But… instead of running on gasoline, it runs on the same gas that comes out of your stove. You could actually get a filling pump installed in your house and fill up at home! You could never need to go to the gas station. But if you didn’t have the home fueling system, then you would need to find a natural gas filling station near your home or work. It takes a little more planning because the last thing you want to do is run out of fuel. If you do, you have to get towed to the station.

Let me tell you 4 good reasons for driving a natural gas vehicle:

  1. For me the biggest advantage of driving an NGV would be the fuel price. That’s because I’m cheap. Right now a Gallon-Gas-Equivalent (GGE) is $2.44. Actually NGV’s require fewer oil changes and the spark plugs and engine parts last longer because the gas is burning cleaner. So again if you’re cheap like me, you like low maintenance.
  2. They pollute a lot less than a gasoline car. Natural gas vehicles emit 13-21 percent fewer GHG emissions than comparable gasoline and diesel vehicles. If you are an Al Gore fan, then you’ll like them. An NGV has higher emissions than an electric car, but electric cars have lithium ion batteries which will eventually go bad. The replacement of the battery is around $5000. For the most part we really don’t know how long they last. It might need to be replaced once or twice in the car’s lifetime and we don’t really know how much impact that will have on landfills.
  3. You support the American economy. Gasoline comes from oil. The US imports 9 billion gallons of oil a day!!! That’s about $17 billion per day. I don’t know if everyone is aware of this but we have all the energy we need right here at home in the form of natural gas and our vehicles will run very nicely on natural gas.
  4. You can drive in the carpool lane by yourself.

In Conclusion

My hope is that with this short article, you know a little more about natural gas vehicles.

  • They save money on fuel and on maintenance (no batteries to worry about)
  • They pollute a lot less – Transportation accounts for 27% of our greenhouse gas emissions so this is a good way to reduce global warming
  • It’s good for the American economy – We can be less dependent on the Middle East and we can produce our own energy for our cars
  • You can drive in the carpool lane by yourself

For some reason, the US is lagging behind the rest of the world. I would love to see the US start using natural gas instead of gasoline. Maybe you can consider it now especially when prices start going up at the pump.

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