Why isn't natural gas used more than it is in vehicles?

Since natural gas is cleaner burning than gasoline and cheaper than gasoline (A person at a natural gas company told me once that the cost of natural gas is about 1/2 the cost of gasoline). My theories are 1. Oil companies don’t like it because they make more money from oil. 2. Auto manufactors don’t like it because vehicles will last longer. 3. The government doesn’t like it because it would cause to price of natural gas to go up which is major energy source for home heating. Of all the alternative energy sources it is the most readily available and probably the cheapest to produce.

10 Responses to “Why isn't natural gas used more than it is in vehicles?”

  1. The Voice of Reason Says:

    Natural gas fueled vehicles are widely used in fleet applications. For example, most of the buses in Dallas, Texas are fueled by CNG. Many other fleet vehicles such as delivery trucks, service trucks, etc are also fueled by CNG.

    It works for fleet vehicles because they are usually used for relatively short trips and are generally garaged at a central location when not in use (e.g. at night). Refueling can be achieved efficiently at this central location.

    CNG as actually a better choice than hydrogen since natural gas is the primary source of commercially produced hydrogen. Using natural gas directly as a fuel increases the overall efficiency of the energy cycle.

  2. oikos Says:

    Where are you going to gas up? No gas station owner is going to expend the money needed to install brand new equipment on something so speculative.

  3. MDJ Says:

    There are many more problems with natural gas:
    1 Mileage not as good, while technology could probably fix that.
    2 It is a natural resource and while you can "create" more easier than you can crude oil, it is an expensive process to be heaped on top of collecting and processing it for use.
    3 Infrastructure – As with Hydrogen, and other alternatives of this type, is putting in the pumps and shipping capabilities. Fact is that it isn’t cost effective to invest in the infrastructure on a product that is hard to supply, when there are other products we can use.
    4 Current fleet – It is expensive to convert vehicles over to NG, while current vehicles can run off E85 and such with relatively less cost. This gives the market time to start moving towards alternatives without leaving the the middle-class and below without wheels.

    There are many more reasons that it never took off. One thing I would say is to find a local station (wherever you are) that supplies NG for vehicle use and track there price per gallon over the last 5 years and see overall as to how it compares to fuel: which was cheaper, readily available, and remember you can’t goto the same place you fill your grill bottles.

  4. Dana1981, Master of Science Says:

    1) Because like gasoline, natural gas is also a non-renewable resource.

    2) There is no refueling infrastructure. People who own natural gas Honda Civics have to lease the equipment to attach to their home natural gas system so they can refuel their cars, and they can’t refuel anywhere else. The vehicle itself is already more expensive than the Honda Civic hybrid, and then you have to add the cost of the refueling system on top of that.

    Just comparing the natural gas Civic to the hybrid version (see link below), it costs more, has a shorter range before needing to be refueled, has the added cost of the refueling system which would more than offset fuel savings, and can only be refueled at home. The hybrid is clearly the better choice.

  5. richard b Says:

    one of the big problems you have is the fuel tanks. they are heavy and cylindrical, and are hard to package in the average automobile.

    the next problem you have is the infrastructure isnt available to fuel several million vehicles on a daily basis.

  6. thor Says:

    My grandfather got an adaptor to run his truck off both gasoline and propane (not natural gas, but a component of it). It cost about $700 to refit the truck. Once refit, the fuel was cheaper, available at numerous places and burnt hotter so it cleaned the sludge deposits out of the engine. Vehicles in Japan already run off NG. People in the US are afraid of something new and will continue to pay inflated prices for gasoline until they are forced to change.

  7. bluesc2beatnu Says:

    Same reason that there are not electric vehicles: people don’t want them.

    Auto manufacturers spend $billions on marketing and market studies, and the price of gasoline is not yet high enough for people to consider NG or electric vehicles. And if Europe is any indication, we’ll be paying $5-7 per gallon before we see a real change in the paradigm that is the current automobile.

  8. JOHNNIE B Says:

    Natural gas can not be compressed a little and it is like compressing water. The tank is large and leaks are bad. Can be explosive. It has less power in the same motor.

  9. answer man Says:

    Because they have made the modern cars so complicated that most people are afraid to modify there vehicles. If you screw it up it’s going to cost a couple grand to fix it so why take the chance. It’s amazing how we got computers running the engine and fuel injection and state of the art everything yet my 4 door sporty looking car with a 6 cylinder can only get 22 mpg. What a great improvement in mileage from carburetors, Not. We need to complain to someone with power.

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