This is part 1 of 2 of our series "Using Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel". Why would we want to do that? Well, because we're tired of seeing the U.S. and the world's economy held hostage by some of the most unstable places on earth. In part 2 we'll go into a little more detail about how owning a natural gas powered call actually works. But first, we wanted to go over some of the basics of the advantages of natural gas over oil.
First, the U.S. has much more natural gas than it does oil. In 2009, we net imported over 50% of the oil we use, while that number was below 12% for natural gas. That means in times of crisis, we are much more in control of our natural gas supply.
Second, compressed natural gas burns much cleaner than gasoline! One of the only cars that consumers can purchase that uses natural gas is the Honda Civic GX. From Kelley Blue Book on the topic of natural gas powered cars:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls the natural-gas Honda Civic the "world's cleanest internal-combustion vehicle," generating 90-percent cleaner emissions than the average gasoline-powered automobile. Natural-gas vehicles can emit 60 to 90 percent fewer smog-producing pollutants and 30 to 40 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. In some big cities, according to NaturalGas.org, emissions can actually be cleaner than the surrounding air. An average dedicated natural-gas vehicle emits about 70 percent less carbon monoxide and 87 percent less NOx (nitrogen oxides) than a gasoline-engine car.
And now for some of the drawbacks:
- Natural Gas is still a fossil fuel and we'll eventually have the same price problems we have with oil and all non-renewable resources
- One method of obtaining Natural Gas called fracking has come under scrutiny lately for the potentially damaging affect it has on groundwater supplies in the area. Here is a great segment on Fracking from energyNOW!
- The infrastructure really isn't in place to fuel private vehicles, as most of the fueling infrastructure is used to support government or private fleets. Here is a great map of natural gas fueling locations.
Fueling your vehicle with natural gas is not a perfect solution, but it sure is better than getting oil from our enemies and it will pollute a lot less than your gasoline powered car. Of course, you could always get an electric vehicle, and considering that almost 25% of U.S. electricity comes from natural gas, you'd be partially powered by natural gas anyway! There may still be some challenges you'll have to overcome, but in your efforts to reduce your consumption of oil it is hard to beat.