What is CNG?
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Compressed Natural Gas is natural gas under pressure which remains clear, odorless, and non-corrosive. Although vehicles can use natural gas as either a liquid or a gas, most vehicles use the gaseous form compressed to pressures above 3,100 pounds per square inch. CNG is a fossil fuel substitute for gasoline (petrol), diesel, or propane fuel. Although its combustion does produce greenhouse gases, it is a more environmentally clean alternative to those fuels, and it is much safer than other fuels in the event of a spill (natural gas is lighter than air, but disperses quickly when released).
How is CNG Made?
CNG is made by compressing natural gas (which is mainly composed of methane [CH4]), to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. It is stored and distributed in hard containers, at a normal pressure of 200–220 bar (2900–3200 psi), usually in cylindrical or spherical shapes.
How Can CNG Be Used?
CNG is used in traditional gasoline internal combustion engine cars that have been converted into bi-fuel vehicles (gasoline/CNG). Natural gas vehicles are increasingly used in Europe and South America due to rising gasoline prices. In response to high fuel prices and environmental concerns, CNG is starting to be used also in light-duty passenger vehicles and pickup trucks, medium-duty delivery trucks, transit and school buses, and trains.
An initiative, known as Pickens Plan, calls for the expansion of the use of CNG as a standard fuel for heavy vehicles has been recently started by oilman and entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens.