Natural gas savings could really add up for motorists

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Civic CNG

Natural gas savings for motorists, as well as reduced emissions, make natural gas an attractive alternative to gasoline. Photo Credit: Mariordo/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Natural gas is an attractive alternative for both energy production and also for transportation, as it offers some benefits over gasoline. For starters, it’s cleaner, and is also much cheaper, as natural gas savings for motorists could really add up.

Economic natural gas savings can really add up

Like it or not, the gasoline engine is an endangered species. While this induces many harumphs from a lot of people, bear in mind that one century ago, the primary mode of transportation was a horse. Technologies are replaced all the time. It isn’t so much the engine, but rather the fuel that powers it.

For starters, there is the looming threat of peak oil. Disagreements may exist over whether it’s happened, but any resource gets scarcer as more of it gets used, until it eventually runs out. In the meantime, battery and hydrogen fuel cell cars are being developed as are hybrids.

There are also other fuels available as well, such as natural gas. For starters, it’s cheaper than gasoline. Gasoline, according to CNN, recently hit a nationwide average of $3.63. Natural gas, according to Businessweek, usually goes for about half that of gasoline.

Yale study finds huge savings possible

A recently-released study by researchers from Yale, according to Daily Finance, projects that switching even small numbers of vehicles over to natural gas would save a lot of money. The study projects that if 7 percent of the oil used by Americans every year for fuel was replaced with natural gas, they would save $25.6 billion per year, roughly $130.61 per driver.

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At 50 percent, or if half the nation’s oil use was converted to using natural gas, the savings are even greater. The total natural gas savings approach $182.9 billion, almost $1,000 per driver, per year. A similar paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to Bloomberg, found a natural gas savings of $850 per car and up to $18,500 for semi-trucks converted to liquefied or compressed natural gas.

Other benefits

Another benefit of natural gas cars is that they produce fewer emissions. According to the Department of Energy, testing done at the Argonne National Laboratory found that natural gas-powered light and heavy-duty vehicles produced 6 to 11 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline or diesel counterparts. That gap has, though, gotten closer over the years as engine technology improves.

As far as fuel economy goes, it’s roughly equivalent. The Honda Civic NG, which runs on natural gas, is rated on the EPA fuel economy cycle at 27 miles per gallon city, 38 highway and 31 mpg combined, 1 mpg less than the normal Civic. There is a loss in performance, though, as the Civic NG is down 30 ponies. Don’t rush out to find an auto loan center and then think there are a lot of choices; the Civic NG is it for passenger cars. Unless wants to say “howdy, Honda Civic NG” a car has to be converted.

Unfortunately, the problem at the moment is with infrastructure. According to Bloomberg, there are only about 2,000 fuel stations that can gas up natural gas cars. Until that starts improving, no natural gas savings can be realized.

Sources

CNN

Businessweek

Daily Finance

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-26/natural-gas-cars-can-drive-us-toward-a-better-economy.html

Honda: http://automobiles.honda.com/

DOE: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/natural_gas_emissions.html

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