The natural gas vehicle is an option fuel vehicle that utilizes compressed natural gas or the liquefied natural gas unlike other vehicles that use the other fossil fuels. However, the natural gas vehicle should not be confused with vehicles that are propelled by the propane which is also a fuel, but with a notably dissimilar composition. According to researchers, there were approximately 14.8 million natural gas vehicles by 2011. The natural gas vehicles are mostly found in the Middle East and South American countries. Iran registers the highest number of natural gas vehicles at 2.86 million, followed by Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil and India with 1.10 million. Generally, the Asian-Pacific leads the world in numbers of natural gas vehicles of 6.8 million followed by the Latin America that has 4.2 million. Notably, natural gas vehicle has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the notable advantages is that natural gas is relatively cheaper to gasoline. This essay analyzes the natural gas vehicles use.
The natural gas vehicle is another option fuel for the vehicles that utilizes the use of the compressed natural gas unlike the other vehicles that use fossil fuels. However, there are other vehicles which are propelled by the propane and this should not be confused with the natural gas vehicles since they work differently with different composition. The natural gas vehicles have been widespread mostly in the Asian-pacific and Latin-America countries (Cannon 73). According to researchers, there were approximately 14.8 million natural gas vehicles as at 2011 and Iran had the highest number of them at 2.86 million followed by Pakistan, Argentina and Brazil in that order. Generally, the Asian-Pacific region is said to have the highest number of these vehi9cles at 6.8 million. Latin American that is second with 4.2 million natural gas vehicles has 90% of these vehicles have the bio-fuel engine which enables them to run either on the gasoline or compressed natural gas (Ingersoll 43).
The US is also another country that has registered high number of the natural gas vehicles. In 2009, the US has at least 114,000 vehicles running on this fuel. The natural gas vehicles mostly used in the US are buses. Notably, there are millions of commuters all over the US and this is why this is majorly used there so as to cub various shortcomings. Most of these vehicles run on liquefied petroleum gas while others use the liquefied natural gas (Kojima 25). Currently, most vehicles are being manufactured to run on the compressed natural gas, however, the vehicles that use the gasoline can easily be converted so that they start using the liquefied natural gas and the compressed natural gas. This is mostly done in the Asian-Pacific countries where there are experts in car manufacturing (Sumner 83).
The Difference between Liquefied Natural Gas and Compressed Natural Gas
Notably, both the liquefied natural gas and the compressed natural gas are considered to be under the natural gas vehicles. Despite that, these two types of fueling have differences on how they work basing on technology (Sumner 92). The difference between these two types of natural gas vehicles emerges from the fuel cost, equipment used, capital cost and tanks. Compressed natural gas usually calls for a higher compression unlike the liquefied natural gas. Biasing on that, the compressed natural gas needs tanks with thicker walls to withstand the pressure. Generally, the making of the compressed natural gas needs more capital cost thus making it expensive than the liquefied natural gas (Whitney and Behrens 182).
The Chemical Composition and Energy Content of the Natural Gas Vehicles
The natural gas is made up of various compositions of chemicals and energy content so as to come with the finished product. Here are some of the components in it.
The main component of the natural gas is methane (Whitney and Behrens 72). Methane is arguably the shortest as well as the lightest hydrocarbon molecule. However, this does not mean that the natural gas does not have the bulky hydrocarbon molecules. There also other hydrocarbon molecules in the composition, e.g. propane, ethane and butane. The composition of these molecules varies in percentages but methane has the highest composition. On energy content, the natural gas is said to have the largest content of energy fuel in comparison to any other fossil fuel, thus producing less carbon dioxide making it environmental friendly.
Transport and Storage of the Natural Gas
The main challenge of the natural gas is usually transport. The natural gas is transported using pipelines that are stored underneath or in different cases over the earth. This is mainly used to transport the compressed natural gas while liquefied natural gas is transported using the railway tankers, ships and trucks tankers.
The storage of compressed natural gas is also different from that of the liquefied natural gas. Compressed gas has higher pressure and thus it is stored in steel tankers at higher pressure to withstand it. Contrary to that, the liquefied natural gas storage pressure depends on the atmospheric pressure. With development in technology, many countries are switching to the natural gas vehicles and thus have the conversion kits that are vital in conversion from gasoline or the diesel to either liquefied natural gas or compressed natural gas.
The Advantages of the Natural Gas Vehicles
Firstly, the natural gas vehicles are safer compared to the gasoline. As stated above, the two types of natural gas are well stored depending on their pressure (Sumner 72). The compressed natural gas has higher pressure thus stored on thicker tanks. Regarding that, the storage of the natural gas is safer compared to the gasoline’s/diesel tanks that have had rupturing cases for a long period of time.
Secondly, the natural gas is relatively cheaper than the gasoline. Research indicates that NGV are cheaper in the sense that they are manufactured cheaply. In addition, NGV is cheap because it does not wear out the engine parts at a faster rate like gasoline. It is also cheaper to the maintenance of the environment because they result in cleaner emissions. This results from the fact that the combustion of one cubic meter yields 38 mj, which facilitates the production of less carbon dioxide.
Another advantage is that NGV have lower maintenance costs. This emanates from the fact that they burn cleanly, which gives an engine longer life and extends the time between oil changes and tune-ups. The prices of natural gas have also depicted stability than gasoline prices. Thus, this is an advantage of natural gas as it can help in making long-term plans regarding the supply and use of the oil. It should also be noted that the natural gas is convenient and abundant. A good example depicts from the US where there is infrastructure meant for distributing natural gas in all the urban areas. There also exist many fuelling stations in the country (Aldrich 73).
The Disadvantages of NGVs
Firstly, the NGVs do not have a lot of room like other vehicles. Most of their space is utilized for gas storage cylinders. In addition, these storage cylinder tanks are expensive to build.
Secondly, NGVs have a limited driving range. Research opines that they can only do half the distance of a gasoline powered vehicle. An example is availed of a Honda Civic that can do almost 200 miles without refueling while a gasoline powered Civic does almost 300 miles without refueling. This indicates that an NGV has to be towed in case it runs out of fuel on the road (Cannon 83).
Thirdly, natural gas as a source of fuel is also extinct to some extent. This emanates from the fact that the fuel cannot be renewed or recycled. This is a threat to NGVs despite the fact that it is predicted that the US has enough supplies of natural gas to last for five more decades (Demirbas 93).
In conclusion, NGVs are en vogue vehicles mostly found in the US and Middle East. These vehicles are an option fuel vehicle that utilizes compressed natural gas or the liquefied natural gas unlike other vehicles that use the other fossil fuels. However, the natural gas vehicle should not be confused with vehicles that are propelled by the propane which is also a fuel, but with a notably dissimilar composition. The difference in operation between NGVs and natural compressed gas in terms of operation centers on the fuel cost, equipment used, capital cost and tanks. The main component of the natural gas is methane. Methane is arguably the shortest as well as the lightest hydrocarbon molecule. Various advantages and disadvantages of NGVs abound. The advantages include the fact that the vehicles are cheap to maintain as the natural gas does not wear off the engine parts faster, natural gas is cheaper than gasoline and the prices are also stable unlike that of gasoline. It is also indicated that NGVs have a thicker storage tanks as compared to the thin gasoline tanks. However, some demerits of NGVs abound and they include the fact that the gas is not renewable, which is a threat to the NGVs. Secondly, NGVs have a limited drive range as compared to vehicles powered by gasoline.