Compressed natural gas pumps are seen at a Gulf gas station near Newark Airport on March 21, 2012 in Newark N.J.
MELANIE STETSON FREEMAN/GETTY IMAGES

 
ALTERNATIVE POWER SOURCES

Have Natural Gas Cars Finally Arrived?

MAR 5, 2013 06:20 AM ET // BY ERIC NIILER

Are natural gas vehicles ready for their next act? With new supplies of gas predicted to keep the United States awash in cheap fuel for the next few decades, teams of researchers at both academic labs and startup companies are banking that natural gas could — this time — really be the fuel of the future.

They are working to overcome some of the obstacles that have limited natural gas cars to a small portion of the U.S. fleet, mostly buses and fleet vehicles. These problems include the refueling technology, safety, and getting compressed natural gas (CNG) cars the same driving range as regular gasoline powered ones.

Right now, natural gas is cheaper than either petroleum gas or biofuels. And the good thing is that, with a few modifications, natural gas can run in standard internal combustion engines. The big obstacle is getting the gas compressed so it lasts a while in a car’s on-board fuel tank. There are only 600 natural gas filling stations across the United States.

A team at Oregon State University is hoping to make it easier to fill up with the same utility gas pipe used to heat homes. They are turning an existing diesel pickup truck into a vehicle that can compress its own natural gas with one of its six cylinders.

Read more: Have Natural Gas Cars Finally Arrived? : Discovery News.

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