Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as Alternative Fuel

With increasing federal clean air regulations and restrictions, more and more companies have made the switch to cleaner energy sources. One of the most popular alternative fuel sources is CNG, or compressed natural gas. Used in a number of applications, CNG is known for its low emissions and various other eco-friendly benefits.

But is what CNG and how can it be used as an alternative fuel source?

What Is Natural Gas and CNG?

cngNatural gas is a mixture of methane and other hydrocarbons. It makes up about a quarter of the energy used in the United States and is commonly used for home, commercial, and electric power production purposes. In its purest form, natural gas is colorless, odorless, and shapeless.

When natural gas like methane and a mixture of other hydrocarbons are compressed to less than one percent of its standard atmospheric pressure, CNG is produced.

CNG is predominantly used in vehicles for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty applications. It is stored in vehicles within the cylinders in a compressed gaseous state at 3,000 to 3,600 psi.

Benefits of CNG

Natural gas provides a number of benefits for all industries. However, it’s most helpful in the automotive industry. With federal clean air regulations mandating significant reductions in truck emissions over the next decade, automakers are choosing alternative fuels like CNG to power their vehicles because CNG is known to produce lower emissions.


According to the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center, vehicles running on certain natural gases can reduce the life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions by 11%. Plus those with CNG fuel systems don’t generate evaporative emissions. also states that natural gas produces 20% to 45% less smog-producing pollutants.

In addition, natural gas vehicles produce comparable power, acceleration, and cruising speed to cars running on gasoline or diesel while reducing emissions. Simply put, these vehicles can deliver power and performance while maintaining fuel economy.

The automotive industry has already started taking the steps to ensure more environmentally friendly vehicles are produced. A recent article reported that Cummins Westport, Inc. has developed a new ultra-clean CNG engine. This could lower tailpipe pollutants, including nitrates of oxygen, smog-causing particles, and greenhouse gases.

Drawbacks of CNG

CNG, while helpful for reducing emissions, does have a few disadvantages. Because using CNG as an alternative fuel is somewhat of a new tactic, vehicle selections are scarce. However, conventional gasoline and diesel engines can be retrofitted to work with CNG.

On top of that, mentions that CNG isn’t as readily available compared to conventional gasoline and diesel, and vehicles powered by it will get fewer miles on a tank of fuel.

With a rising importance on clean air and the environment preservation, we can expect CNG and other natural gases and alternative sources of energy to replace conventional gases within vehicles.

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