Natural gas is a promising alternative fuel source for vehicles and provides enormous benefits over petroleum. It produces fewer harmful emissions and costs less. It is a safer fuel and a largely domestic product.
Natural Gas and Air Pollution
Two forms of natural gas can be used for fueling car engines: compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas. The emissions produced by these two forms of natural gas are the same in light-duty vehicles. They also both produce significantly fewer pollutants than petroleum.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, natural gas vehicles emit over 90% less carbon monoxide than petroleum-based vehicles. They also produce 25% less carbon dioxide and up to 60% less nitrogen oxide. Little to no particulate matter is emitted by the use of natural gas vehicles. They also create less carcinogenic and toxic pollutants that enter the atmosphere.
The Safety of Natural Gas
Some concerns have been raised about the safety of using natural gas as a fuel for cars. According to the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation’s article “How Safe Are Natural Gas Vehicles?” newly produced natural gas vehicles undergo the same crash tests as gas-powered vehicles and must meet safety standards.
Like gasoline, natural gas is an explosive. However, if gasoline is leaked or spilled it creates a cloud of vapor and has a low flashpoint. Because of these factors, gasoline is highly ignitable. This is in contrast to natural gas which evaporates rapidly when it is leaked. Natural gas also has an offensive odorant added to it in order to identify leakage.
Natural gas is also nontoxic. If a spill occurs, it will not contaminate or cause any toxic effects to the water or ground. This is an obvious improvement over oil which, during spills, has polluted numerous ecosystems, killed countless organisms and wreaked havoc on local economies.
Natural Gas is an Increasingly Domestically Produce Product
According to the article “The Case for Natural Gas: The Most Abundant, Clean and Cost-Efficient American Fuel” at the NGVAmerica website, over 90% of the natural gas currently used in the United States is produced in North America. It is likely that by the year 2030 nearly all of the natural gas used in the United States will be produced domestically. This is in sharp contrast to oil production. In 2008, 70% of the oil used in the United States was imported.
Natural Gas Infrastructure
Natural gas has been used to heat and power homes in the United States long enough to have a well-developed infrastructure. The number of natural gas filling stations is growing as the demand increases. There is also the option for homeowners who already use natural gas and have a car that uses compressed natural gas to refill their car at home. This involves using an appliance that is installed in the garage.