Transport Topics recently published an article discussing Love's Travel Stop's plans to build compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations in eight of their travel stops in Texas. The stations will be located in the major traffic areas of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
What is CNG?
Natural gas is an alternative fuel that is available in two forms -- compressed natural gas, and liquified natural gas. It's a substitute for gasoline and diesel and is more environmentally clean than the two. It's made by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of the volume it occupies at standard atmospheric pressure and is stored and distributed in cylindrical containers.
Pros and Cons of CNG
Perhaps the biggest benefit of CNG is the price! CNG costs about 30% less than the price of its gasoline and diesel counterparts. A gallon equivalent of compressed natural gas is on average, $2 less than a gallon of diesel.
More Environmentally Friendly
CNG is more environmentally friendly than gasoline and diesel as it burns much cleaner. It can reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 90-97% and while it still emits greenhouse gases, they're about 20-30% lower than gasoline/diesel engines!
Lower Maintenance Costs
CNG vehicles have lower maintenance costs as compressed gas burns cleaner. This results in less wear and tear on the engine and extends the amount of time you can go between tune ups and oil changes.
Because CNG is lighter than air, it dissipates into the air quickly in the case of an accident, whereas gasoline and diesel would pool on the road and create a fire hazard.
Simply put, you cannot get as far on compressed gas as you can with gasoline or diesel. CNG is measured in diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) so the actual MPG is the same as in a diesel model, but the same amount won't take you as far in terms of mileage.
Compressed natural gas is still a relatively new thing, so there aren't many CNG refueling stations available around the country yet.
Adoption Among Trucking Companies
Driver Solutions partner company PAM Transport has a terminal in Irving, Texas with a fleet of tractors that run on compressed natural gas. Perhaps in the future we'll see more fleets with CNG tractors on the road as companies begin to become aware of the reduced costs and environmental benefits that compressed gas offers.
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