I know I'm sounding like an annoying research director here but the timeline, any timeline - I've heard 500 years - is what I think needs to be challenged. I wish I could recall it better (too much beer, not enough sleep) but I have in the back of my head a Cornell University study that changes the paradigm on so called fossil fuels: that they aren't at all "fossil" and are instead a product of a continuous nutural process in Earth's core.
I believe Honda has made Natural Gas powered vehicle for a while. I have seen a couple on the street. There are multiple reasons it doesn't get popular.
1) The gas station is limited.
2) The safety is always a concern to most people. A couple years back, Hong Kong government has passed a law requirement Taxi (aka Cab) to be LPG powered vehicle. There were growing concerns what if the vehicle run into a serious accident. Will there be any catastrophic explosion? There hasn't been yet. Nonetheless, I believe it stays in the back of most people's mind.
The limited supply of gas station, charge pump will be the primary reason to keep alternative fuel vehicle to be popular, at least for some years.
While that's true, it can't be denied that petrol is a finite resource, and it's good that alternatives are being examined. Could be we have another 100 years of petrol, could be 200. Either way, it's going to run out. And get more expensive in the process. I don't know if CNG is the fix, but it's an intermediary step towards a viable alternative.
Sombody needs to thoroughly research the assertion that "petro supplies are dwindling globally." That reaks of being yet another one of these convenient common-conventions that gets accepted as fact but is easily challenged.
Sylvie, another interesting tangent here is the Crysler affect. Recall that Fiat owns Mopar now. That is after BHO's union palm- greasing, bond-holder hosing bankruptcy "deal" with the Italian mini-car maker. Anyway, perhaps you could follow up with how much of the Dodge/Chrysler product line might go CNG after this technology infusion.
LPG powered cars have been around for quite a while, and certainly here in the UK conversions are common. I personally drive a LPG converted Smart, and get the price equivalent of 100miles/imperial gallon at motorway speeds. Whilst filling stations are not as common as for petrol/diesel there is a significant refuelling infrastructure in place, and I've never found myself running out of gas and having to use petrol. Some manufacturers are offering LPG versions from new.
True, LPG is another fossil fuel and as such can never be sustainable but at least the CO2 emissions are lower. As it is a technology that is ready NOW, it can at least make a difference in the short term.
The point about there being 100 years of available natural gas doesn't make me feel wonderful. We've only been using these fuels for about 100 years and now we only have another 100 left? That's only one lifetime. We'll use it all up and wonder what happened. Our grandkids will be cursing us.
It's time to be much more interested in renewables of all sorts, this switch to natural gas is just a stopgap.
While this article meanders around, I've often wondered why natural gas hasn't been the new fuel-of-choice for cars. In the US there is plenty of it and as mentioned it is an easy switch from our conventional engines.
Why are we chasing electric cars which require an entire changeover of the infrastructure to use (gas stations, repair techniques), lug around a thousand pounds of expensive, nasty battery, and will bring down our power grid when any sizable population is using them. Electricity isn't very portable in any quantity.
I've been puzzled when various programs for CNG- or LPG (liquified petroleum gas)-powered public transportation have quietly drifted away. If someone would test and warrant my car, I'd change to CNG in a minute.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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