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James R. Cochran

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UK’s first hydrogen fuel station has opened at Birmingham University, despite a shortage of potential customers.

The station is the first of 12 outlets planned to open nationwide by 2010 and will serve a campus fleet of five fuel-cell cars. It’s the first part of the infrastructure needed to support the far-off prospect of hydrogen-powered cars in the UK.

The vehicles are part of the university’s own fleet, and will allow engineering researchers to learn more about their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Professor Kevin Kendall from the University explained the reasoning behind the station: “It is absolutely necessary that we have the means to refuel our fleet of hydrogen-powered cars so that we can carry out our research into the feasibility of hydrogen in a transport context.”

Air Products installed the fuel station and also recently announced that it is working with Transport for London (TfL) to build fuel stations for a fleet of 70 hydrogen-powered vehicles being introduced from next year.

Meanwhile, the hydrogen itself will be provided by Green Gases Ltd, which manufactures the gas using renewable biomass energy, an approach the university claims will ensure that both the manufacturing process and use of the fuel cells will result in no carbon emissions.

Further growth is expected, with perhaps 12 hydrogen filling stations around the UK by 2010, raising the possibility of commercial production of cars powered by fuel cells.

The folks over at PlanetThoughts are sponsoring Super-Cars Shout Out Competition as a way to recognize eco-conscious citizens fight against climate change by driving a high-mileage car.

The concept is simple:

  1. Find high mileage cars in your area. PT has a list of high-mileage cars (>40 mpg…)
  2. Place the PlanetThoughts flyer on the windshield and take a picture of the car.
  3. Send it in to PlanetThoughts.
  4. Click here for full details.

We all want to do what we can to reduce the global warming gases that get emitted, especially in our own areas of living and working, where we have the most direct influence. To add another dimension, it would be great to congratulate others who are doing something to help the environment.

To offer your congratulations, print off one of the contest’s flyers, place on a high-mileage car you encounter in your day-to-day activities, take a picture, and upload it to PlanetThoughts. The winner will receive a cash prize of at least $500 (see below). Car owners whose vehicles appear on the site also have a chance at some cash: contact the folks at PT if your car appears in a contest photo, and you’ll be entered into a monthly drawing for $50. The contest runs through the Labor Day.

PlanetThoughts

Despite the recent increase in news coverage of global warming, main stream media generally provides their audience with little more than surface information addressing global environmental issues. Further, the vital issues of energy availability, “peak oil” and of resource depletion are rarely mentioned. This failure has real consequences in a world that must immediately confront and plan for these mounting challenges. It is essential that the vast majority of the citizenry be informed on these issues as they are unprecedented in the scope and depth of their impact on daily life.

PlanetThoughts.org is organized around the environmental aspects of this converging crisis. These issues underlie many of the immediate challenges that global society faces. PlanetThoughts.org believes that the path to a solution lies first in better understanding of the environmental basis for these conditions, followed by and in parallel with collective action to change government policies and societal attitudes.

Their Web site (www.planetthoughts.org) provides focused environment information with positive energy and insight, for concerned individuals around the world. The specific means for this include news items, blog entries, quotes, reviews, stories, and tips. They refer to these items as “PlanetThoughts”.

We hope you will join their community early and often, with an eye towards a positive future for us all. Clear information is the first step toward creating a population of citizen leaders committed to protecting and bettering the world’s environment

In today’s post, we’ll review if recent attention given to Synthetic Methanol is worth pursuing as a viable long term fuel alternative.

Synthetic methanol’s green credentials arise from its potential to be completely CO2 neutral. The most likely future mass-production of the fuel is by using electrochemical techniques to combine oxygen, hydrogen and carbon:

  • Carbon could be sourced from carbon dioxide recovered from the atmosphere using either large scale extraction facilities or biomass.
  • Oxygen would be taken from the atmosphere already contained in the CO2 molecule.
  • Hydrogen would be acquired through the electrolysis of water; challenges remain in the electrical power required; in a green future, this could be supplied from renewable sources, an issue already being addressed by supporters of hydrogen as a fuel.
  • Synthetic methanol can also be supplemented by production from biomass sources where properly sustainable.
  • Methanol can be produced easily from a wide variety of feedstocks.

Synthetic methanol – How to make it?

Techniques for the production of synthetic methanol through the extraction of atmospheric CO2 are well developed and understood but are not being employed on an industrial scale. An early solution would be the co-location of a nuclear or hydroelectric powerplant with a conventional power station – the hydrogen generated by hydrolysis of water would be combined with CO2 from either fossil or biomass sources to make liquid methanol. In the future, large volumes of CO2 could be extracted directly from the atmosphere.

Synthetic methanol – easy to adopt?

As well as being green, another crucial advantage of synthetic methanol is that it can be introduced relatively simply. As the Exige 270E Tri-fuel demonstrates, only small changes to engines are required, such as:

  • Sensors to detect alcohol content
  • Modified software for engine management control driving alcohol/gasoline, flex fuel and fuel systems operations.
  • Fuel lines compatible with alcohol fuels
  • Higher flow rate fuel pump and injectors
  • Fuel tank material, compatible with alcohol

In addition, as a liquid, which is miscible with gasoline, synthetic methanol can be transported; stored and sold to motorists exactly as today’s liquid fuels are, with only minor modifications.

Synthetic methanol – a performance fuel?

Synthetic methanol is better suited to spark-ignition combustion than today’s liquid fuels, delivering better performance and thermal efficiencies, due to its higher octane rating giving it better resistance to ‘knock’. As a result, it is a fuel that will benefit the motorists in terms of driving experience. For example, the Exige 270E Tri-fuel is quicker to 60mph from standstill and has a higher top speed when using 100% synthetic methanol fuel than with conventional gasoline. Synthetic methanol is also ideally suited to pressure-charging, a trend already well underway as car makers look to downsize engines to reduce fuel consumption.

Synthetic methanol – the way forward

Lotus Engineering regards sustainable alcohols as the third step in a process towards carbon neutral driving. The current E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) based movement represents the first stage in building momentum towards sustainable fuels. The valuable learning from the current bioethanol vehicles on the market means that synthetic methanol would easily be managed technically and within the existing transport, storage and distribution infrastructure. The steps towards a synthetic methanol economy for transportation fuels could be as follows:

  • 1st Generation:   There is a handful of current bioethanol models on sale around the world. These cars run on E85 bioethanol, which is produced from valuable arable crops (food). This is unsustainable in the short and medium term as global demand for fuel will outstrip the supply available from farmland to the detriment of food production, but is a necessary step in the evolution of the market.
  • 2nd Generation:  The next generation bioethanol fuels will be based on biomass waste, for example crop stubble, waste vegetable-based oils and any biodegradable waste matter. This is thought also to be unsustainable in the medium to long term as the required volume of biomass increases beyond that
    which can be supplied.
  • 3rd Generation:  Sustainable alcohols such as synthetic methanol can be introduced due to its miscibility with ethanol and gasoline. This fuel can be produced from entirely sustainable, readily available inputs, with an environmentally neutral overall impact.
  • 4th Generation:  Direct Methanol Fuel Cells: over the longer term, sustainable alcohols in internal combustion will facilitate the soft introduction of direct methanol fuel cells as a long term sustainable future fuel. This will only be possible with pure methanol pumps on the forecourt which internal combustion engines can bring forward due to their ability to consume a mixture of fuels.

Lotus Engineering strongly believes governments, fuel suppliers and car manufacturers have a key role to play in the adoption of sustainable alcohols as a future green fuel.

If car manufacturers were incentivised to produce next generation models for introduction over the next 5 to 10 years as flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on any mix of gasoline and bioethanol, there would be no need for an unfeasible instant global changeover. Late software changes can permit the introduction of methanol and fortunately, E85 bioethanol and subsequently synthetic methanol can be introduced gradually to the marketplace, due to their miscibility.

Should fuel suppliers increase the industrial-scale production of synthetic methanol, it could be introduced to forecourts across the globe within 15-20 years and eventually become a global standard.

In front of 210.000 visitors the bioethanol powered Volvo S40 from HEICO SPORTIV reached the finishing line at 35th ADAC 24h-race Nürburgring.

Already in the time training session the drivers trio Patrick Brenndörfer (30, Darmstadt), Frank Eickholt (35, Bottrop) and Martin Mülller (38, Griesheim) convinced by their 10:09.136 minutes for a lap around the 25,378 kilometers Grand Prix course plus Nordschleife. That was the pole position within the strong occupied class “S2″ for alternative fuels.

Caused by a thunderstorm the 220 cars have been sent on the trip with a delay of 112 minutes. Race manager Hans Schnock (Golzheim) has started the race at 16:52 after two formation laps. Brenndörfer could improve his total position from 68 to 41 during heavy rain period. That was the first job for the new prototype rain tires PROXES RR1 from TOYO TIRES. After this successful turn, the car was handed over to HEICO colleague Martin Müller, who was on the track now with slicks.

But the forward drive was stopped abrupt, Müller came into the pits after four rounds with overheated engine. A not perfect working water pump than was the reason for a precautionary change of the 5-cylinder turbo engine.

After this change in record time the car number 272 went back into the “18h race” clearly behind all others. Position after position the dull blue HEICO HS4 ODIN came forward – until the race management was forced for safety reasons, to stop the race at 3:54 with the red flagg. Heavy tight fog was covering the “Green Hell” at some sections leaving not enough sight to continue the race safely.

volvo-heico-2

Only after nearly 6 hours enforced break, the race was re-started for the last “7,5h sprint”. The 340hp powerful Volvo with BioFormula85 fuel from Brüggemann Alcohol has proved its potential by lap-times within the 40 fastes cars, but the race was too short, to reach the aimed top place.

Shortly before 17:00 a.m. the final driver Brenndörfer crossed the finishing line. For the team it was the end of the most curious 24h races ever and was bringing the Volvo for the fourth time in series undamaged over the finish-line. In spite of the early loss of time – the race can be booked under success, because by the pole position and constantly fast laps HEICO SPORTIV has demonstrated that todays racing cars are competitive at the worlds hardest long distance race, also with alternative fuels.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 18 — Google and Pacific Gas & Electric have unveiled their vision of a future in which cars and trucks are partly powered by the country’s electric grids, and vice versa.
The companies displayed on Monday six Toyota Prius and Ford Escape hybrid vehicles modified to run partly on electricity from the power grid, allowing the vehicles to go up to 75 miles on a gallon of gas, nearly double the number of miles of a regular hybrid. They also modified one vehicle to give electricity back to the power company.

The highly unusual test takes the hybrid, which is now familiar on American roads, a step further by using extra batteries to hold energy made and distributed by a power company. The technology is eagerly awaited by energy experts and environmentalists, but is not yet ready to go commercial because the additional batteries are not yet durable enough.

Google’s philanthropic foundation, Google.org, headed by Larry Brilliant, led the conversion and announced that it would be investing or giving away about $10 million to accelerate the development of battery technology, plug-in hybrids, and vehicles capable of returning stored energy to the grid.

Speaking on a sun-splashed dais in Google’s parking lot to an audience well shaded by one of its new solar arrays, Mr. Brilliant described the vehicle designed to give energy back to the grid as “a bit of a science project.”

But some observers, like the Stanford professor Stephen Schneider, who was one of the authors of the recent United Nations report on climate change, said that just getting this embryonic technology demonstrated by a company with Google’s heft was a victory in itself. “These guys have clout with hundreds of millions of young and middle-aged people,” he said, adding that what was necessary to jump-start a new type of car was a combination of reliability, affordability and “cool.”

The six vehicles are used by Google employees near the company’s Mountain View headquarters, and sit under a carport with a roof of solar cells. The cells are connected to the power grid, so they make energy whether the cars are charging or not. Dan Reicher, Google.org’s director for climate change and energy initiatives, said the carports were meant to demonstrate a switch from fossil fuels to solar power.

Google is using batteries from A123Systems of Watertown, Mass., a company that sells an aftermarket kit to convert the Prius to a plug-in vehicle.

The Prius that has been converted to allow two-way flows of electricity is a more speculative project. PG&E, the utility serving Northern California, will send wireless signals to the car while it is parked and plugged in to determine its state of charge. It can then recharge the batteries or draw out power.

The transactions will be tiny, a few kilowatt-hours at a time, worth a few cents each, but if there were thousands of such vehicles, a utility could store power produced in slack hours until it was needed at peak times, said Brad Whitcomb, PG&E’s vice president for customer products and services.

Some researchers say that utilities pay billions a year to power plants to stand by, ready to produce extra power or to provide small quantities of energy to maintain the frequency of the system at precisely 60 cycles a second. Plug-in hybrids could fill those roles, annually earning thousands of dollars each, some experts say.

But if a car gave all of its energy back to the grid, it would be left to run on gasoline, giving up the environmental benefit.

A plug-in hybrid can lower emissions of carbon dioxide and smog-causing gases. It can go three to four miles on a kilowatt-hour, experts say. If that electricity came from natural gas, that may mean under a quarter-pound of carbon dioxide is emitted each mile. In contrast, a car that gets 20 miles a gallon on unleaded gas emits about a pound of carbon dioxide each mile.

Switching from gasoline to ethanol – touted as a green alternative at the pump – may create dirtier air, causing slightly more smog-related deaths, a new study says.

Nearly 200 more people would die yearly from respiratory problems if all vehicles in the United States were to run on a fuel blend made mostly of ethanol by 2020, the research concludes. The author of the study acknowledges that such a quick and monumental shift to plant-based fuels is next to impossible.

Each year, about 4,700 people, according to the author of the study, die from respiratory problems related to ozone, the unseen component of smog, combined with small particles. Ethanol would raise ozone levels, particularly in certain regions of the country.

“It’s not green in terms of air pollution,” said Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor and author of the study. “If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don’t do it based on health grounds. It’s no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse.”

His study, based on a computer model, was published Wednesday in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology. It added to the messy debate over ethanol.

Farmers, politicians, industry leaders and environmentalists have clashed over just how much ethanol can be produced, how much land it would take to grow the crops to make it and how much it would cost. They also disagree on the benefits of ethanol in cutting back fuel consumption and in fighting pollution, especially of the gases linked to global warming.

In January, President George W. Bush announced a push to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent over 10 years by substituting alternative fuels, mainly ethanol. Scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that such a change could mean approximately a 1 percent increase in smog.

Jacobson’s study troubles some environmentalists, even those who work with him. Roland Hwang of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that ethanol, which cuts one of the key ingredients of smog and produces fewer greenhouse gases, is an important part of reducing all kinds of air pollution.

Jacobson’s conclusion “is a provocative concept that is not workable,” said Hwang, an engineer who used to work for the California pollution control agency. “There’s nothing in here that means we should throw away ethanol.”

And Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, the largest Washington ethanol lobby group, said other research and real-life data show that “ethanol is a greener fuel than gasoline.”

But Jacobson found that it all depended on where you lived, with ethanol worsening the ozone problem in most urban areas. Based on computer models of pollution and air flow, Jacobson predicted that the increase in ozone – and the diseases it causes – would be worst in areas where smog already is a serious problem: Los Angeles and the Northeast.

Most of those projected 200 deaths would be in Los Angeles, he said, and the only place where ozone would fall was in the Southeast, because of the unique blend of chemicals in the air and the heavy vegetation.

The science behind why ethanol might increase smog is complicated, but according to Jacobson, part of the explanation is that ethanol produces more hydrocarbons than gasoline. And ozone is the product of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide cooking in the sun.

While praising Jacobson as one of the top atmospheric chemists in the nation, Hwang said that he had problems with some of Jacobson’s assumptions, like that of an entire switch to ethanol by 2020.

Jacobson is also ignoring that ethanol reduces greenhouse gases, which cause global warming, and that global warming will increase smog and smog-related deaths, according to an international scientific panel, Hwang said.

As consumers face rising prices of gasoline, many have already abandoned their plans to purchase large vehicles such as SUVs and pickups in favor of smaller vehicles such as sedans and crossovers. This demand has led car manufacturers to invest in the research and development of alternative technologies to make their production vehicles as gas thrifty as they can while still offering a good level of performance.

For the past years, the hybrid technology has been the favorite of environment and gas price conscious car buyers. Aside from hybrid technology, flex-fuel vehicles also gained momentum. These vehicles are designed to run on gasoline or a combination of gasoline and bio-ethanol. While these vehicles are designed to be environment-friendly, the scarcity of refueling stations offering E85 has led flex-fuel owners to use plain gasoline thereby defeating the environmental purpose of their vehicles. In fact, in a recent study it was found out that 99 percent of flex-fuel vehicles on the roads of the United States are still using conventional gasoline for fuel. This issue has led to the rise in the popularity of diesel engines.

It can be remembered that the American public has shunned diesel engines since in the 1980′s diesel engines are known for their loud noise and huge amount of soot produced. In fact, diesel engines received a very bad reputation that it was even believed that diesel engines will not become popular in the United States. Overseas though, European car manufacturers have been investing in harnessing the power of the diesel engine and has succeeded in producing diesel engines with noise and emission similar to that of a gasoline engine.

The popularity of the diesel engine in Europe is evident in the fact that even the German luxury carmaker Audi has produced a diesel powered luxury car. The massive torque produced by these engines gives good acceleration which is common on high performance cars such as that produced by Audi. This acceleration provided by these new-generation diesel engines is not lagging behind the performance of gasoline engined vehicles that are equipped with aftermarket parts such as the Iceman cold air intake system.

After the European auto industry has succeeded in producing clean diesel engines, Americans’ view of the engine changed. In fact, Ford has introduced a heavy-duty pickup truck equipped with diesel engines. The diesel engine used by Ford on the Ford Super Duty is proven to produce gas emissions similar to that of a gasoline engine. Furthermore, precision engineering has led to a quieter operation for the diesel engine. Another good thing about diesel engines is that they consume less fuel than gasoline engine. Diesel fuel is also less expensive than gasoline which makes it more appealing as the prices of gasoline once again reached the three dollar mark.

The increasing popularity of diesel engines has led to European and Japanese car manufacturers expressing their intention to introduce diesel engined vehicles in the United States auto market come the year 2008. Mercedes-Benz is one of these car manufacturers set to introduce diesel versions of their models such as the M Class, R Class and the GL Class.

Another European car company in the form of BMW is also slated to introduce diesel vehicles in the United States auto market next year. Volkswagen, the German car manufacturer has already introduced diesel vehicles n the United States but is expected to introduce a cleaner diesel engine which it calls “Blue Motion”. As far as the Japanese are concerned, Nissan reported that they will be coming out with a diesel version of their best selling Altima sedan in the near future.

As the number of diesel powered vehicles to be released in the United States auto market increases, the oil industry is responding with positive support. The Marathon Oil Corp. recently announced that they will be investing a total of $3.2 billion in a refinery that will produce clean diesel. Currently, only 42 percent of the fuel refilling stations in the United States offer diesel. The investment made by Marathon shows that the oil industry is supporting the increasing popularity of diesel among the American car buying public. With the auto and oil industry working together it will only be a matter of time before diesel engines become more popular than gasoline engines.

When a new product enters the market, there is always an air of confusion and queries; the same is the case with the hybrid cars, which hit the road in the recent years with its high-power and environment-friendly features.

Let us look at the myths spreading in the market about them.

1. Hybrid cars maintenance costs are very high

Hybrid technology offers a better maintenance on its own with its cleaner fuel and low emissions. So it does not require a frequent maintenance as required by conventional cars. The only worrying cost is the service charges, which is normally higher than a conventional car. As hybrid technology is new, getting a professional to repair your car may be a costly affair for a few more years.

2. Hybrid batteries need to be replaced

It is true that a hybrid car battery is costlier than a normal one. It may cost upto $4000 to get a new battery system installed if the warranty is void. But the hybrid car manufacturers assert that the battery is intended to work for a lifetime of the hybrid car, and so rarely needs to be replaced.

3. Hybrid cars are not spacious

If you consider the size of Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, it is true that they are not up to the expectation of an average user. But new models such as Ford Escape and Lexus RX 400h offer you more space and still more models are waiting to hit the road in the near future.

4. Hybrid cars do not offer a performance speed

The Honda Accord hybrid, world’s first hybrid sport sedan, is the fastest among the models available in the market, offers a speed of 253hp @ 6,000RPM. Lexus RX400h and Toyota Highlander have a 208hp speed. The market will witness revolutionary models such as the Lexus GS 450h sedan with a 300hp and Toyota Volta with a 408hp in the near future.

5. A hybrid car needs to be plugged in

Although hybrid technology works with the help of electricity, yet there is no need of any plug to start the action of the battery. In fact, due to the regenerative action of the battery, the energy which is normally wasted when a car is stopped, is redirected to the batteries. Because of this continuous action the battery remains charged always.

6. Hybrid cars are expensive

At one glance it seems to be so. The price of the popular hybrid range starts from $19,000 to $53,000. The relief to this problem is the resale value which is offered to the hybrid cars. Toyota Priuse has been sold almost at the cost of a new built in the resale market. Moreover, the government is offering many tax incentives to hybrid car owners. With all these into consideration, it would not be a bad idea to own a Civic or a Prius, below $30,000.

7. People buy hybrids only because of their fuel efficiency

Though the first priority of a car buyer is its economical advantage and fuel efficiency, hybrid cars shine in the market because of its environment-friendly aspects too, the car is a sign to let others know how serious you are about the environment.

Whenever there is a talk about the environmental issues caused by the use of fossil fuels, especially those used in the automobiles, a list of polluting agents who are playing the villainous roles are targeted. Most of these are the byproducts of the combustion of the fuels, while others are the chemicals used in the operation of the engines and batteries.

The pollutants created by the vehicle emission fall into two categories – solid pollutants and gaseous pollutants. Let us analyze each pollutant along with the hazards associated with it.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

A poisonous gas produced as a result of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels or any fuel containing hydrocarbons. Carbon monoxide when inhaled combines with the hemoglobin in the blood and forms a compound called carboxyhemoglobin.

Carboxyhemoglobin affects the supply of oxygen from the blood to different body parts, causing severe coronary problems leading to death. Generally known as carbon monoxide poisoning, it is affecting largely those who have a history of respiratory problems.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Commonly known as green house gas (GHG), CO2 is the major contributing agent to global warming. As the reports show, the temperature of the earth has increased by 0.6 ± 0.2°C since the late 19th century.

A great percentage of the emissions from the fossil fuels are carbon dioxide.

Nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2)

These powerful gases are produced when fuel is burned at a very high temperature. The hazards of these compounds in the air are many. Nitrogen oxides along with the air particles form a reddish suspension in the air.

When the humidity is high, these gases combine with water particles and form acid rain. Acid rain is found to be one of the reasons for the tarnishing of archeological structures and buildings.

When inhaled, these gases cause serious threats to the respiratory system.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

Sulfur is present in the raw form in the fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. When these fuels are burnt, SO2¬ ¬ is formed. This gas dissolves in water easily and forms sulfuric acid, which in turn results in another form of acid rain.

Due to the stringent measures adopted by the EPA in the use of such pollutants, the emission of SO2 has been reduced by more than a third in the past 30 years.

Lead

The main source of lead in the atmosphere is the automobiles. Though leaded gasoline is not used nowadays in most of the vehicles as a fuel, lead batteries still pause a threat to the environment. When inhaled, lead directly affects the brain, nerves, and kidneys and causes severe damage to the respiratory system.

As a result of the drastic steps taken by the EPA, the amount of lead has been reduced considerably.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that the levels of lead in the blood samples of people have been decreased by about 78%.

The ongoing search for an sustainable, alternative fuel has been a top concern for governments for many years.

With the hybrid technology being a success in the US markets, a wider technological application has been sought in this area. With more and more fuels such as ethanol, bio-diesel and hydrogen, added to the alternative fuel list of hybrid cars, the option of choosing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is also not ruled out.

CNG has been widely used in buses and heavy load carriers in many parts of the world. Yet it has not dominated the car market. The difficulty of converting a conventional engine to a CNG-compatible one has been a serious concern for the manufactures as well as the car owners.

CNG contains a large percentage of methane (CH4) along with traces of other hydrocarbons. It is extracted from natural gas, which is produced by the decomposition of animal and plant wastes.

CNG as future fuel for vehicles promises a lot of benefits. Being a cleaner fuel than the petroleum fuels, CNG promises low emissions, and it can be compressed under high pressure, between 2000 and 3600psi making it easy to store in cylinders.

How does the world respond to CNG alternative? Worldwide examples show that the feasibility of using CNG in all types of vehicle is not under question. Argentina and Brazil are the two countries with maximum number of CNG vehicles, approximately 1,460,000 and 1,230,000 respectively. Here CNG is widely used in buses and trucks. Also a ‘Blue-network’ of CNG refilling stations is being developed on the major highways of Southern Cone of Latin America, including Chile and Bolivia. In the East, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India are the main players offering CNG fleet to their transport network. Pakistan is world’s third largest consumer of CNG. In the Middle East and Africa, Egypt tops with more than 63,000 CNG-run vehicles on its road.

The option of using CNG in cars has hit the market with many important players emerging with CNG-run vehicles. The Honda Civic GX is the first of its type. The Civic GX has been awarded as the cleanest internal combustion engine on the earth by the EPA. Another cool fact about the CNG cars is the possibility of refilling the gas from your own home. With the help of Phill, Honda offers this facility to its customers to get the fuel refilled from their home gas line.

The only hurdle in the use of CNG in vehicles is the cost of conversion of the engine. If proper support is offered by the public and private agencies in order to promote such an environmental-friendly fuel, consumers all around the world will be motivated to use this technolgoy, thus contributing to a cleaner environment and saving of fossil fuels. Already a scheme is on in the city of Santa Cruz allowing the CNG car owners to recover up to 60% of the conversion costs with the help of a ‘free-CNG’ vouchers offered to them. Apart from these, a lot of investment has to be made in the R& D along with creating awareness in the consumers about the necessity and viablility of converting their vehicles into a CNG one.