Natural Gas Vehicles

NGVs are getting a lot of attention these days.

They may soon find a permanent place in our transportation system because the nation is getting serious about reducing carbon emissions. Plus, there are abundant domestic gas supplies to keep prices affordable and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

NGV benefits

1. Affordable - You can save as much as 40 percent compared to the cost of a gasoline.

2. Green - NGVs run cleaner than gasoline or diesel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy named the Honda Civic GX NGV the Greenest Vehicle of the Year eight years in a row.

3. Domestic – There’s an abundant domestic supply of natural gas helping reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Where are they?

  • There are about 120,000 NGVs being driven in the U.S. and 12 million worldwide.
  • There are about 400 NGVs in Oregon, mostly commercial fleets of passenger and light duty trucks, such as the airport shuttle busses.
  • NW Natural has 100 in our own company fleet.

Why aren’t there more in Oregon?

  • There is only one public fueling station in Oregon, and it’s located in Medford.
  • NW Natural is working with public and private organizations to promote refueling stations.
  • You could have a station at your home but that can be costly.
  • In the coming years, a home compressor may be developed that is affordable and reliable.

Vehicle choices

  • Honda’s Civic GX is recognized by the EPA as the cleanest commercially available, internal-combustion vehicle on earth. It gets 38 mpg and is available for retail sale this year.
  • Most major car manufacturers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Mercedes, are also unveiling NGVs.
  • You can also convert the car you own now to run on natural gas.
  • And bi-fuel cars allow you to switch back and forth between gasoline and natural gas.

Fleets

  • Companies that rely on return-to-base fleets, like transit agencies and solid waste haulers, have been using natural gas vehicles for years.
  • The next big NGV market being developed is for heavy-duty fleet vehicles: both long-haul trucks that typically operate on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and local heavy-duty trucks, taxis, and busses that typically operate on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
  • The Clean Energy company is developing a series of fueling stations, making it possible for long-haul trucks to refuel across the country.

LNG or CNG?

  • LNG is more energy dense and suited for vehicles travelling more than 250 miles per day, up to 500-600 miles per day between refills. LNG is liquefied at a central location and transported to the fueling station much the same as gasoline or diesel.
  • CNG is better for vehicles that travel up to about 250 miles per day between refills. CNG can be compressed at the fueling station.

Safety

  • NGVs are safe to drive.
  • If the tank got hit or punctured in an accident, there’s a relief valve that vents the tank outside of the vehicle.
  • Natural gas is safer than liquid fuels because it’s lighter than air so it rises and dissipates.
  • It has a much higher ignition temperature than other fuels; and it is non-toxic.