Natural Gas Vehicle Comparison

November 13, 2013

Find out how natural gas compares to other fuel types in terms of mileage, emissions and other factors.

Natural Gas Pump Sign

A natural gas vehicle which runs solely on compressed natural gas, can be more expensive than a traditional gasoline vehicle. Though, the saving on gasoline in the long run outweighs the initial cost of a natural gas vehicle.

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But how does your natural gas vehicle's performance, mileage and cost compare to that of gasoline cars?

Cost
The initial cost of purchasing a natural gas vehicle is higher than that of a gasoline vehicle, mainly because they are not as popular as gasoline cars. However, with more manufacturers making natural gas vehicles, the cost is bound to reduce in the future.

Although more expensive to buy, the long term savings experienced with the purchase of a natural gas vehicle are huge, as natural gas has a much lower purchase price than gasoline. The maintenance cost of a natural gas vehicle is also much lower than that of a gasoline vehicle.

Natural gas vehicle conversion kits are also available, which allows you to convert your gasoline vehicle into a bi-fuel vehicle running on gas and gasoline for only about $2,000.

Performance
Most drivers do not notice a huge difference between driving a natural gas vehicle and a gasoline vehicle. Unlike a gasoline system that delivers full power until it is empty, the natural gas system will only deliver full power when it is under full pressure. When the pressure drops in the tank, you might experience difficulty going up hills.

Generally natural gas vehicles are slower than gasoline vehicles but under normal driving conditions the difference is hardly noticeable.

Mileage
Further studies need to be done, but generally you will get more output on a tank of gasoline than on a tank of natural gas. The mileage you receive on natural gas depends a lot on the size of the vehicle you are driving and what your vehicle is being used for.

Although you are getting less mileage out of your natural gas vehicle, keep in mind that a tank full of natural gas will cost you about half the amount of a full tank of gasoline.

There is a global concern with regards to the harmful emissions emitted by our vehicles and their devastating effects on the environment. By purchasing a natural gas vehicle or transforming your current gasoline vehicle into a bi-fuel hybrid, you are doing your bit for the environment while saving money.

How Do Natural Gas Car Emissions Compare to Other Fuels?

The production and burning of this fuel is practically pollution free. You also can have your own fueling station in your home if you so choose. These cars were originally available at the beginning of the 1990s, but they were not marketed and did not take off. Now, natural gas cars are back.

The Fuel
There are two different types of natural gas that can be used as fuel: liquid natural gas and compressed natural gas. The technology is not too different from the regular combustion engine. The main difference is that the fuel tanks are much bigger and will add up to 500 pounds to your vehicle. The main gas used is methane. Methane is a byproduct of many processes including wastewater treatment plants and landfills. Sewage can also go through a digestion in which the methane is captured and then burned as fuel. If you use methane from these natural processes, then you will not be releasing any additional pollutants or emissions into the atmosphere. The net change of gas and emissions when using natural gas is zero.

Emissions
A natural gas car is the cleanest engine of all fuels, including other alternative fuels. It releases the lowest amount of greenhouse gas emissions and is considered a zero emissions vehicle. On very smoggy days, the air that comes out of the tailpipe of a natural gas car is actually cleaner than the air that is sucked into the engine. Compared to all other vehicles, natural gas releases 20 percent less carbon dioxide, a main gas responsible for climate change. Looking at total emissions, a natural gas vehicle produces 90 percent less than a gasoline powered car.

Finding a Natural Gas Car
Natural gas cars are produced all over the world, but in the United States, the Honda Civic GX is the only natural gas vehicle available. Actually it is only available in 2 states, California and New York. The main reason for this is there are very few fueling stations in the rest of the country. New York and California are the only states that have the infrastructure in place for these vehicles. Even if you have your own fueling station installed in your home, getting repairs can still be difficult. In the entire northeast of the country there are only a handful of individuals that know how to repair a natural gas car.

Better Than Gasoline?
While it is a low emission vehicle, it does not dramatically decrease the amount of greenhouse gases produced from other alternative fuels, in particular ethanol. Additionally, this vehicle is not a renewable energy. There is no infinite supply of natural gas, and as with gasoline there are a few countries that have the majority of natural gas. While this may be an excellent option for replacing gasoline, the technology needed to collect methane from recycled processes needs to be developed further. Otherwise, we will face the same problems with natural gas as we have with gasoline.

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