The Motley Fool tells us why companies and governments are switching their vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG). In North America CNG is half the price of gasoline and diesel so there are large cost savings.  On top of that, natural gas produces 30% less carbon dioxide than oil, so the move to CNG helps out both the environment and the economy.

Natural gas can do more than just power our TV’s and heat our homes; it can get us to work and make the air a little cleaner. We are on edge of a major shift in America toward cleaner, cheaper energy sources that can satisfy the demand of economists and environmentalists.

The Dallas News notes it is not just trucks that are moving to natural gas. Locomotives in North America will be switching to liquified natural gas (LNG) to replace diesel.  The switch won’t be immediate because of the need to retrofit existing diesel engines.  What is more likely in the short run is that trains will burn a combination of diesel and LNG. Locomotive makers have not yet set the prices of their retrofit kits, but railroads expect they will be cheaper than a new locomotive costing roughly $2 million.

Using both diesel and natural gas also offers some advantages over using natural gas alone. The diesel can provide the spark needed to ignite natural gas without redesigning locomotive engines, and the diesel helps provide horsepower.

Major locomotive manufacturers, General Electric and Caterpillar’s Electro-Motive Diesel, have developed prototypes that will be tested by Union Pacific, CSX, Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway Co. and Canadian National railroads beginning this year.

In a related post, NGV Global News says 31 Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad locomotives are to be converted from diesel to compressed natural gas. The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, which operates in the Chicago area, is the largest switch carrier in the US with 54 miles of mainline track and 266 miles of additional yard and siding track.

See also, Businessweek, Natural gas locomotives may prove cheaper, cleaner and Environmental Leader, Trains Turn to Natural Gas to Cut Fuel Costs, Compete with Trucks

NGVs survive the polar vortex. With temperatures plunging to 0 F and well below in many parts of the US this winter, questions arose as to whether the natural gas vehicles could perform in the cold.  The question was answered by NextGen Transportation News.  The web site interviewed several companies in the midwest and found that, apart from a few glitches that were easily overcome,  the vehicles did fine, and certainly no worse than diesel engines encounter in such bitter cold.

Corridor Clean Fuels has created a simple, web-based savings calculator that allows trucking and other fleets to determine whether a switch to CNG is viable for their operations. You can check it out here under “Savings Calculator”.  See Next-Gen Transportation News, New Natural Gas Vehicle Savings Calculator Available Online.

The European Union is supporting a series of studies to analyse the potential introduction of liquefied natural gas infrastructure in Spain and France we learn from Energy Global. The studies will determine the feasibility of implementing LNG storage and ship refueling facilities in the Port of Roscoff (France) and the Port of Santander (Spain).

LNG is quickly emerging as a more environmentally friendly fuel for the maritime sector, and its use is encouraged by the European Union. The market for LNG for maritime transport in Europe is currently limited, and infrastructure for the small-scale supply of LNG is almost non-existent.

See also, NGV Global News, EU Funds France-Spain LNG Bunkering Study

In a related story, the Port of Amsterdam in The Netherlands has opened a bunkering operation for LNG. Inland navigation vessels can now bunker LNG at Western Europe’s fourth largest port.

NGV Global News reports that LNG will soon be powering North American ships. Currently 42 LNG ships are planned for North America, The projects consist of ferries (17), tankers and bulk carriers (12), offshore service vessels (6), container vessels (6) and an articulated tug barge. 12 of the projects will convert existing ships.

The US state of Texas has created a Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program according to NGV Global News. $24 million is being made available to entice owners and operators of heavy-duty or medium-duty motor vehicles to switch their vehicles or engines to natural gas fuel (CNG or LNG). Last year the state made $7.6 million available for grants to continue the development of a network of alternative fuel and/or natural gas fueling stations.

In a similar move, the California Energy Commission is providing $10.8 million in incentives for the purchase of new natural gas vehicles. Next-Gen Transportation notes the size of the incentive available is tied to the weight of the vehicle purchased.

In Europe, Volkswagon’s Polo will be made in a CNG version writes autocar.


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