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Natural gas could become the new ethanol -- the alternative fuel of choice -- if a new bill passes. Like ethanol engines, gas-natural gas dual mode engines suffer a performance loss of as much as 15 percent.  (Source: Treehugger.com)

The U.S. has among the world's most abundant natural gas deposits (regions with highest levels shown in brown).  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
A variety of vehicle weight classes are covered by new natural gas bill

A new bill, NAT GAS (New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions), has been proposed by U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV),and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) which looks to push natural gas vehicles into the consumer mainstream.  The proposal looks to offer a bevy of natural gas vehicle purchasing, refueling and manufacturing tax credits which would eclipse even current credits for electric vehicles.

People purchasing a light vehicle capable of running on natural gas would get a $12,500 tax credit, significantly more than the $7,500 credit offered for plug-in vehicles.  Current tax credits for three other weight classes would double, up to a maximum of $80,000 for the largest vehicle class.

Bi-fuel (gas and natural gas) vehicles would also be eligible for a 50 percent incremental cost tax credit -- this means that 50 percent of the costs that companies assume from increasing production would be offset by tax credits.  The bill would also make it 100 percent tax deductible (with some limitations) to build a facility which builds natural gas vehicles.  The bill would also offer refueling stations up to $100,000 to provide natural gas vehicle refilling pumps.

The new bill was masterminded and heavily praised by oil and natural gas baron T. Boone Pickens.  Mr. Pickens had made headlines last year, announcing a massive wind power project.  Just last week, he essentially pulled the plug on the project, and called natural gas the "only option" for the U.S.

With his heavy natural gas holdings Mr. Pickens stands to make a small fortune if the bill should pass.  Indeed, the natural gas industry as a whole would see a huge boost from the bill.

Natural gas vehicles run on methane, the primary component of natural gas.  Methane engines run approximately as efficiently as gasoline/petrol engines, but are less efficient than diesel engines.  Dual-mode engines suffer a 10 to 15 percent efficiency loss over gas-only engines, due to the higher octane number of 120-130.



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RE: ridiculous
By Keeir on 7/13/2009 7:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
1000 q.feet, i.e. 230 gallons of nat gas cost around 8 dollars ....:)...It seems I will be very happy to have a car on natural gas.


Thats a good question.

Current US Natural Gas Prices
http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_pri_sum_dcu_nu...

At best, we can hope for "Commerical" pricing around 10 dollars per 1000 cubic feet.

1 cubic feet have roughly 1,028 BTUs. However, when used in an ICE engine application, its more like ~950 BTUs.

A gallon of gasoline containes around 125,000 BTU.

In the US there is roughly a 47 cents per gallon tax on gasoline... which works out to roughly 2.05 dollars per gallon.

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/gdu/gasdiesel.as...

Natural Gas would then get around 95,000 BTUs per Dollar and Gasoline would be 61,000 BTUs per Dollar. Which is another way of saying that currently Natural Gas is equivalent to ~1.80 gasoline (remember, the government will still need to collect taxes on the Natural Gas, so although the untaxed natural gas is equivalent to ~1.30 a gallon gas)

However, my problem with doing this is #1. Natural gas is very expensive to design engines for... #2. Natural gas when used in a CC, the same 1 cubic feet could produce more than .15 kWh of electricity. So... 1 cubic feet used in a Prius (50 miles per 125,000 BTU) results in .38 miles versus 1 cubic feet used in a Volt (40 miles per 8 kWh) is... .75 miles (more like ~.60 after losses due to transmission, charging, etc).

Either way, its much more effective pollution, usage, and eventually price wise to generate electrical power for the gas and use the electrical power to drive the cars... even if NG is more effective than gasoline.


RE: ridiculous
By knutjb on 7/13/2009 10:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, my problem with doing this is #1. Natural gas is very expensive to design engines for...

That is total BS. To take the most of natural gas the engine should have a higher compression ratio than a gasoline engine to take advantage of the 120 plus octane rating, to offset the fuels lower BTU rating. Diesels take a little more work but are built to run effectively on it too.

There is one unusual thing, oil is mixed with an abrasive and is squirted into the cylinder to help seat the piston rings because it burns at a lower temp and does not wash oil off the cylinder walls like gas. Fact engines running on natural gas will out last the vehicles they are in.

Any place that has natural gas can set up a gas station, usually off the existing pressure in the line 3500 psi plus requires little infrastructure, plumbing, dispensing units, etc. If the pressure is below there are compressors based on a V8 engine one bank a conventional 4 banger and the other 4 cyls are the compressor. The electrical grid theoretically has the capacity but in many areas, mostly rural or brown out prone cities (CA), don't have sufficient power grid capacity for a radical transition to electric cars. Why do you think plug in hybrids are taking so long to implement? It's not the cars.

The biggest reason to convert should be that the US has the worlds largest natural gas reserves so no money sent off shore. That combined with the simplest fuel conversion from gasoline compared to any other fuel option buying time to come up with practical alternatives that, today, are only available in vaporware.

Do some home work, natural gas vehicles have been around in the industrial market for for over 50 years.


RE: ridiculous
By Spuke on 7/14/2009 1:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do some home work, natural gas vehicles have been around in the industrial market for for over 50 years.
I guess you didn't see the links. And you never stated why his info was BS.


RE: ridiculous
By Keeir on 7/14/2009 4:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That is total BS.


Sure... thats why Natural Gas engines in cars need a tax credit of 12+ dollars.

That's why the Civic NGV is about 8,000 more expensive than the gasoline one.

I guess I should have been more clear. NGV are very expensive.

quote:
The electrical grid theoretically has the capacity but in many areas, mostly rural or brown out prone cities (CA), don't have sufficient power grid capacity for a radical transition to electric cars. Why do you think plug in hybrids are taking so long to implement? It's not the cars.


Ahhh... well it sounds like California needs to upgrade its power just to make current load. Since they are updating anyway, why not go really high and use very efficient CC plants to burn Natural gas for cars when they need it? Overall, it will be much more efficient that pumping the Natural Gas to a station and dispensing it to the car.


RE: ridiculous
By StevoLincolnite on 7/14/2009 1:03:08 AM , Rating: 2
LPG/Natural Gas works fine in a normal Petrol engine, heck you can even get Injected LPG Gas these days.

The way my Car works with LPG Gas is you have a "Mixer" which is connected to the Air intake pipe, which mixes the LPG and air together which is then sent to the cylinder for ignition, where-as if I switched over to Petrol, it's injected.

The Problem with LPG that I found is that it's a very "Laggy" fuel, and because I have lead weights strapped to my shoes, I end up with a tendency to bend push rods often. (Thankfully I do my own mechanical repair work!).

Plus, it's also a cleaner burning fuel.

And... in real-world driving the economy isn't that much inferior to Petrol.


RE: ridiculous
By LordanSS on 7/14/2009 1:30:12 AM , Rating: 2
Natural Gas is very popular here in Brazil, as far as car fuel options go.

Some brands, like Fiat, sell "Tetra Fuel" cars that can use natural gas, pure gasoline, ethanol or the gasoline we have here in Brazil which contains 20% ethanol in it's formula.

At least for us, it's very economic... as it's well know, due to taxes, our gasoline prices are astronomical, but when it comes to natural gas, the price is pretty good. You can easily drive over 100Km while spending less that $5 on fuel.

I believe it's a wise decision, to diversify on fuel alternatives. That way, if something goes bad with one of the sources, you have other choices available.


RE: ridiculous
By Sdaas on 7/14/2009 10:19:22 AM , Rating: 2
I thought Brazil used Sugar Cane Biodiesel.


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