Thursday, February 14, 2013

Should You Convert Your Car to Natural Gas?

From Popular Mechanics
By Ben Wojdyla

As gas prices climb upward, natural gas is abundant and cheap—and likely to remain that way. However, because of technological and legal hurdles involved in converting a car to run on natural gas, it can cost thousands of dollars up front. So is it worth it?

We visited a shop doing compressed-natural-gas (CNG) conversion and crunched a few numbers to find out.

Natural gas has been used in our homes for generations. Americans use it to run water heaters, home furnaces, stoves, clothes dryers, and other appliances.

As a fuel it accounts for 24 percent of our total energy consumption nationwide, all but 1 percent in residential applications. And as we reported last fall ("Drilling Down," September 2011), new fracking techniques are tapping domestic reserves that previously were not economically viable.

Vast global supplies are projected to last well into the next century even if natural gas replaces gasoline completely. So it should be no surprise that natural gas will remain incredibly cheap. It runs at one-half to one-third the current cost of gasoline on an energy-equivalent measure.

In a properly tuned engine, natural gas combustion delivers 20 percent lower carbon emissions and about a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gases compared with the cleanest gasoline engines, all without damaging existing catalytic converter systems.

So right about now you're probably wondering: Why aren't we putting this stuff in our cars? [continued]

Continue reading this article in Popular Mechanics.