The case for CNG

22 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи The case for CNG отключены
Audi e-gas

The case for CNG

Last week, I focused on electric vehicles in this column and I ended it with a note on vehicles powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). It is a cheap fuel to make and use, which is why it is so widespread in public transport in most countries. Its prices do not fluctuate all that much, making it ideal for developing countries as well.

Sri Lankans witnessed a LPG craze some time back, which has now fizzled out mainly because the price disparity between petrol and LPG is not so vast. However, it gave Sri Lankan motorists a sense of what it is like to drive an alternative-fuelled car.

But CNG is the new kid on the block and it is time that our authorities thought of it as an alternative fuel for public transport and even private vehicles especially with the possibility of sourcing CNG locally. There are several advantages of having CNG vehicles.

The most obvious advantage of them all is the cost. It is a comparatively cheap fuel and facilitates high running with lower costs. On an average CNG costs around half or 1/3rd the amount regular fuel.

A survey conducted in India, where CNG use is widespread, found that a Hyundai i10 running on CNG and an entry level petrol sports bike such as the Honda CBR250R have similar fuel costs for an average running of around 50 kms a day.

It is also a much greener fuel. The emissions and hydrocarbons that are released as a by-product of CNG usage are lesser than those created by regular fuel. Carbon monoxide emissions are down by 70-85% while hydrocarbon levels are reduced by 40-60 percent.

Many countries that care for the environment and that want to reduce air pollution due to automobiles introduce CNG fuel in a big way.

Fluctuation

The price fluctuation of natural gas is less. Look back over the past few years. While petrol and diesel prices have been on a roller coaster ride, CNG has had a relatively linear movement.

Audi A3 Sportback g-tron

Moreover, contrary to popular belief, CNG is actually a better fuel for improving engine life as the carbon levels are greatly reduced. There are a few disadvantages but these can be circumvented if you are careful. For example, the speed performance of the car is reduced significantly.

On an average CNG users experience a crash of about 10 percent in performance. Acceleration is slower so you may have to rev the engine more. Drivers expect petrol like performance from CNG and rev more to get it.

The storage space is affected as CNG tanks are somewhat large. Since some cars run on both CNG and petrol, two tanks have to be accommodated. The upside is that the range is much better with two tanks, up to 1,400 Km.

Sometimes boot space is reduced or removed entirely as the fuel storage tank takes up all the room.

Cars with CNG tanks should always be started on petrol and run for a few kilometres before being switched to the green fuel. This warms up the engine better and gets the motor well lubricated.

There is another reason why car-makers want to take the CNG route, as demonstrated by Audi recently with its A3 G-Tron model. Most countries are having increasingly stringent CO2 emissions regulation, European car-makers seem to have taken note of the potential that this relatively green fuel holds.

The Audi A3 g-tron is powered by a 1.4-litre, four cylinder petrol engine, along with a factory fitted CNG kit. The G-tron switches to gasoline operation automatically when the CNG levels run low, but the switch can also be triggered manually.

Audi claims 100 kilometres of driving will consume around 3.5 kgs of CNG. Courtesy of two CNG tanks the A3 G-tron has manage a real world range of over 400 kms on the CNG tanks alone. Combine it with the petrol tank and the range goes up to 1,300 kms. Thus a single fill up a month should be sufficient for the average driver. Audi altered the turbocharger, cylinder head, injection system and the catalytic converter to compensate for the CNG use.

Audi e-gas

Skoda too showed a CNG car at the Geneva Motor Show.

Developments

CNG developments are coming thick and fast. An energy firm in the US has just unveiled a new “green house” with a garage ready for your Electric or CNG-powered vehicle.


KB Home unveiled its first ZeroHouse 2.0 in Los Angeles County, a house that comes ready for green vehicles with an EV charging station and a CNG hoockup in the garage.

The company said a “fuel forward” garage with both an EV charger for electric and hybrid vehicles and a CNG fuelling station for natural gas powered cars has been integrated into its ZeroHouse 2.0.

The newest ZeroHouse 2.0 is the first KB home designed to achieve both net-zero energy status, and zero freshwater irrigation use by a family of four or more, explained the builder. The ZeroHouse is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes, potentially yielding an electric bill of zero.

In our region, the best example for CNG use is India, where Delhi and Mumbai are two major cities that actively encourage CNG powered cars and of course, public transport including taxis. It is a solution that greatly reduces environmental pollution.

Our authorities should consider importing a few CNG buses as a trial run and if it becomes a success, make CNG more widely available initially for the public transport sector. In the same way that duty concessions are granted for hybrid vehicles, concessions can be granted for the import of CNG kits and CNG vehicles.

Worldwide, energy companies and scientists are striving to make cleaner fuels, including bio-fuels (about which a debate is raging vis-а-vis the reduction of crops available for human consumption) and artificial fuels such as the recently unveiled Audi e-gas.

There is some life left in the Internal Combustion Engine and cleaner fuels will help save the planet, at least until zero emissions systems such as electric/fuel-cell go mainstream around the world.

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Audi e-gas
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