Friday, July 25, 2008

Alternative fuels & transportation forum (2 of 2)

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on last week's forum on Alternative fuels & transportation:

The coordinator of a group that works with the U.S. Department of Energy and local governments and businesses to set up alternative fuel uses is criticizing state officials for not doing enough to promote the use of natural gas-powered vehicles.

“The state gives it nothing more than lip service,” said Lee Grannis, coordinator for the Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition....

Grannis said the state needs to create an energy authority or department to oversee a broad variety of issues, from developing the infrastructure needed to support the widespread use of alternative fuel cars to reducing electric power costs.

“The state of Connecticut looks upon energy as being stuck in one place,” he said. “It stays away from transportation energy.”

And here's the second half of the video from last week's forum: Tim White


Anonymous said...

I had the opportunity when I worked for UPS, which runs hundreds of CNG vehicles in Connecticut alone, to convert three passenger cars to run on CNG. Two vehicles were then hybrids and the last one I did was a dedicated CNG vehicle.

The last vehicle I completed in under eight hours, it's not brain surgery and the kit cost about $3000.00..not bad when I went to Wisconsin to do this about ten years ago when the conversion cost of CNG to gasoline per gallon was about 75% less.

Fuel economy differences on these early CNG conversion vehicles compared to gasoline was not measurable, emissions were reduced dramatically. The amount of CO2, CO and NOX were reduced by at least half.

They work very well in large cities where we have large populations like NYC, LA, & Chicago. Also while I was working in NYC we had several CNG quick fill CNG fueling stations for us to fuel up at.

We need to demand that the big oil companies move to building CNG stations across the USA, only then will you see people by CNG cars, even if the cost of CNG is closing in on the cost of gasoline.

The only thing that's stopping me from converting my Toyota to CNG is finding an inexpensive fuel tank and the availability of a near-by fueling station. I pray that your forum can put the pressure on the Federal Government and the big oil companies to use more of there quarterly profits toward CNG, Hydogen fuel cells, Electric power and bio-diesel sources of energy to name just a few.

Alternative Power!

Mike Rocci

Anonymous said...

More on CNG vehicles:

While the national average price of gasoline is now $3.60, some residents of Utah are happily filling up on compressed natural gas (CNG) at $0.63 per gallon. That’s the country’s lowest price for CNG, which has understandably caused a surge in demand for vehicles running on a fuel that one man described as “practically free.”

So far, CNG vehicles haven’t made a blip on my radar screen, even though the group Natural Gas Vehicles for America (NGVA) estimates there are 150,000 NGVs on U.S. roads today and over 5 million worldwide. It took a phone call from sunny Southern Utah to clue me in to recent developments, which include a local refueling station overflowing with CNG-hungry vehicles.

There are about 1500 CNG refueling stations in the US, which is about the same number of commercial stations offering E85 ethanol blends. Utah has a total of 91 CNG filling stations, most of which are reserved for commercial fleet use, but there are 20 open to the public. According to an article by the Associated Press, you could drive Utah from top to bottom and hit 22 different stations offering compressed natural gas.

The NGVA also says there are 50 different manufacturers producing 150 models of light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles and engines that run on compressed natural gas. Unfortunately, there’s only one for sale to individuals, Honda’s Civic GX, and it’s only offered in California and New York (although Utah could be next on the list). California ranks highest in number of CNG refueling stations, but fuel prices are also higher—more like $2.50 per gallon.

There’s so much demand now in Utah for CNG-ready vehicles that Honda can’t make them fast enough. Savvy customers are buying the vehicles from other states and shipping them back for sale. But waiting for a new Honda Civic GX to role off the assembly line isn’t the only option. It’s also possible to convert a used vehicle to run on natural gas, like Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who converted his state-owned Chevy Suburban. And for either used or new vehicles, the tax incentives are substantial. Combining state and federal tax credits in Utah can almost completely offset the approximately $7,000 difference in price between regular and CNG-ready vehicles.

One of the major benefits of using compressed natural gas is a significant reduction in emissions when compared to gasoline. Compressed natural gas is touted as the “cleanest burning” alternative fuel available, since the simplicity of the methane molecule reduces tailpipe emissions of different pollutants by 35-97%. Not quite as dramatic is the reduction in net greenhouse-gas emissions, which is about the same as corn-grain ethanol at about a 20% reduction over gasoline.

The big question in Utah is whether or not the infrastructure can keep up with the amount of new CNG cars on the road. Utah already has 5,000 CNG vehicles, up from none a few years ago, essentially overwhelming the refueling network.

Then, of course, there’s the question of natural gas supply. According to the NGVA, worldwide supply of natural gas is almost infinite, assuming we can tap into methane hydrate ice formations at the bottom of the arctic oceans. If we can’t figure that out, we can just drill more (please note the sarcastic tone):

…there are huge natural gas resources on public lands in the U.S. that currently are off-limits to drilling. These include areas a hundred miles or more off the coast of Florida and America’s east and west coast as well as the Rocky Mountain area. The current run-up in natural gas prices is increasing political pressure to allow gas exploration and production in these areas.

More promising is the potential of bio-methane, or the production of methane from the natural breakdown of plant material, something already captured by landfills in the US. The NGVA says that waste biomass could supply enough natural gas for about 11 million natural gas vehicles, which is approximately 5% of the nation’s automotive fleet.

This is certainly something to watch out for, and maybe even participate in if you live in Utah. Now that it’s got my attention, I’ll be taking a closer look at the Honda Civic GX this week, a car that has been called the cleanest burning vehicle on the planet.
More on Compressed Natural Gas Vehicles:

The Cleanest Cars on Earth: Honda Civic GX and Other Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs)

For more on this story, see Natural-gas vehicles hot in Utah, where the fuel is cheap. Also see How Natural Gas Vehicles Work for more background.

Mike Rocci


Anonymous said...

Calculation of Cost for CNG as Compared to Gasoline
Evaluating NG Fuel Costs
= user input values

Cost of NG ($/therm) $ 1.02 Note: Data from home gas bill; 1 therm = 100 standard cubic feet
BTU per therm 100000 Note: 1000 BTU/scf x 100 scf/therm
BTU per gge 115000 Note: This is BTU energy content of gallon of gasoline

Cost of NG ($/gge) $ 1.17 Note: This is the cost for NG for the equivalent energy in a gallon of gasoline
Cost of Gasline ($/gal) $ 1.75 Note: Cost of gasoline at the station

MPGGE for NG 21 Note: User input. Some studies show 5% decline in efficiency for NG v. Gasoline
MPG for Gasoline 22

$/mile for NG $ 0.056
$/mile for Gasoline $ 0.080

Miles traveled/yr 10000
Savings/yr $ 236.88 Note: Fuel savings for using NG fuel.

Mike Rocci

tim white said...

Thanks Mike.

Two things:

1) offers a "CNG home fueling" station. While this product is not yet offered/serviced in CT, in other states it has helped overcome the "fuel distribution" hurdle.

2) the cost of CNG will vary widely from state to state (UT = $0.63 & nearby CA = $2.50). I don't know all the reasons, but it is moved by underground pipes... which would certainly have a significant impact on the cost of delivery.