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  • FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

    Q: Why should I buy a vehicle or buy equipment that runs on an alternative fuel like CNG?
    A: There are a number of GOOD reasons to convert to an alternative fuel such as:
    - Reduced fuel costs.
    - Reduction in toxic emissions.
    - Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
    - Reduced maintenance costs.
    - Reduced dependence on foreign oil.
    - Reduced need to fight foriegn wars over oil.
    - Increased national security by becoming energy independent.
    - Local, state and federal incentives that add up to thousands of dollars in rebates, cash grants, and federal tax credits.
    - Single occupant access to car pool lanes in many states.
    - Fuel savings of up to 60% or more.
    - Home refueling option. Refuel while you sleep!
    - Never go to a gas station again!
    - Greater personal security refueling at home.
    - Some utilities offer discounted gas rates for home refuelers.
    - Reduced DMV fee's in some states.
    - Free parking at city meters in many green minded cities.
    - Free parking at many major hotel chains.
    - Reduced insurance premiums with some major carriers.
    - More and more companies are offering incentives to their employee's to drive environmentally "green" vehicles.

    Q: Are LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas, commonly known as Propane), LNG (liquified Natural Gas) and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas, actually Methane) the same fuel?
    A: LPG and CNG are quite different fuels, CNG is a high-pressure gaseous fuel that always stays in gaseous form. LPG is a low-pressure fuel which is stored as a liquid. Above a certain temperature LPG becomes a vapor fuel which the engine then runs on. LNG is natural gas compressed to very high pressures and at cryogenically cold temperatures to turn it to it's liquid state.

    Q: I have well gas, can I use it in my NGV?
    A: Well gas is simply raw gas which contains other trace gas' like Butane, Ethane, and Propane. California is the only state which prohibits use of well gas in vehicles. Modern NGV's can compensate for the "hot" mixture with their onboard computers. Natural Gas (Methane) must be better than 94% pure for vehicle use in Ca. Most gas piped to your home is the purified form. Some oil/gas producing area's may pump raw gas to surrounding communities for heating and cooking applications.

    Q: How many vehicles run on CNG?
    A: There are over 5,000,000 vehicle world wide and approx. 150,000 in the USA. School and city bus', airport shuttles, taxi's, zamboni's, semi trucks, trash trucks, street sweepers, city, state and federal fleets of cars and trucks, military vehicles, and the guy that just passed you driving solo in the car poollane, just to name a few.

    Q: Is CNG safer than gasoline?
    A: Like gasoline CNG is flammable, but has a much narrower range of flammability. CNG has a much higher ignition temperature of around 1200 degrees vs. 80-300 degrees for gasoline. CNG will only burn with an air-fuel ratio of between 5% and 15% and will rapidly dissipate beyond
    its flammability range in the open atmosphere, making ignition unlikely.
    CNG tanks are tested to a minimum 4 times normal operating pressures and are hundreds of times more puncture resistant than gasoline tanks.

    Q: Is CNG safe?
    A: Natural gas has one of the safest records of any transportation fuel. There are two primary reasons: the physical properties of natural gas (natural gas is lighter than air!), and the structural integrity of the natural gas vehicle storage system.

    Q: How about power loss?
    A: You will typically notice very little if any power loss on CNG.

    Q: What about range?
    A: CNG tanks are generally smaller than conventional gas tanks and range varies with the size and number of tanks on the vehicle.

    W: What about gas mileage?
    A: Gas mileage will be virtually the same as a comparable gas powered version of the car.

    Q: What about refueling stations?
    A: To answer that question, I will refer you to our associate site www.cngprices.com, where you can see all the stations and prices in your area.

    Q: Will CNG hurt my engine?
    A: NO! In fact being on the light end of the hydrocarbon scale, there is almost no carbon in these fuels. Carbon is what turns your engine oil black! One big benefit of CNG is your oil will stay cleaner and requires less frequent changes, saving your time, money, oil and oil filters! CNG goes into your engine as a vapor, there is no "raw" fuel entering the cylinders which washes the lubricating oil off the cylinder walls so the piston rings stay better lubricated resulting in CNG engines lasting up to THREE TIMES LONGER than the same engine on gasoline! CNG should cause no problems with valves in any engine designed to run on unleaded fuel. You can burn a valve or damage a valve seat just as easily on a poorly operating gasoline engine as with a poorly set up CNG system.

    Q: How much maintenance will my CNG system require?
    A: Thats' one of the great features about CNG system, it requires no
    maintenance other than particulate and fuel filter to maintain performance and fuel economy.

    Q: Is CNG harmful to the environment?
    A: NO. as an approved, alternative clean fuel listed in the Clean Air Act and the National Energy Policy. CNG is one of the cleanest burning of all alternative fuels. CNG is is non-toxic and is not harmful to soil or water. Tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Agency show that CNG vehicles produce 80% less carbon monoxide than gasoline engines and
    about 87% fewer toxic emissions. Ever wonder why almost all
    indoor use equipment from forklifts to the Zambonis' at your local ice rink run on CNG indoors?, now you know why.

    Q: Are CNG conversion kits available?
    A: Absolutely. Conversions typically run from $10,000 - to $15,000. There are many levels of technology and many more levels of quality in component parts. Different countries manufacture their products to different standards and safety codes. Cheap basic conversion kits obviously do not include the highest quality parts and in most cases do not include all the parts required for the PROPER installation of the kit, and they are rarely EPA certified. Professional installers are required to do a safe and propper conversion. In most cases it's less expensive to buy a dedicated OEM vehicle, like the Civic GX, than to try and convert your gasoline vehicle.

    Q: Where does CNG come from?
    A: Approximately 85% of CNG is from the USA, coming from our own sources. The other 15% coming from Canada and Mexico, which have extensive natural gas reserves. CNG is an odorless, non-toxic product that is found in association with oil (wet gas), or found in large underground pockets by itself (dry gas). Less than 1% of the natural gas burned in the USA is used as fuel for automobiles.
    Q: How long have cars been running on natural gas?
    A: The first NGV was produced in 1913! Honda has made the Civic GX since 1998.

    Q: Is refueling difficult with CNG?
    A: No, not at all, refueling is quick and simple. CNG's pumping rate, 2-3gasoline gallon equivelent (gge) per minute, is comparable to that of gasoline. To refuel a simple quick-connect connector is used, so there is no worry about "spilled fuel" as the delivery system is "sealed".

    Q: What are the "mechanics of a conversion"?
    A: With a few modifications to the engine, virtually any gasoline engine can be converted to run on CNG. Vehicles can be equipped to operate solely on CNG (dedicated conversion) or to switch between CNG and gasoline (dual-fuel conversion). The "under hood" components of the CNG system, when correctly installed, are almost indistinguishable from the factory components under the hood. CNG tanks fit compactly into car trunks, or in some cases where the gasoline tank has been removed, the tank(s) can be mounted where the gasoline tanks were previously in some vehicles. In trucks and Vans, the tanks can be installed inside the cargo bed or under the vehicle. CNG is stored as a gas, usually in one or two tanks, at a pressures of 3000psi (in older (pre 2002 applications) and 3600psi, which is now the standard. In a CNG engine, the gas travels from the tank to a pressure regulator, which lowers the pressure before injecting it into the engine. A complete conversion system includes ALL the "under-hood" components, the fuel controller, valves, actuators, brackets, hoses, all hardware, wiring and electronics and any software needed to convert the vehicle OBDII computer to CNG operation.
    I hope this answers most of the questions you have. These are the questions I am asked on a daily basis and I hope you found it useful and educational.
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  • #2
    Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

    Curtis: I would like to know if Honda has plans for bigger or dual fuel tanks? I don't know if this has been asked, I have looked around the sight and have not noticed if this has been addressed. I am planning to buy a GX this year but would wait if this is in the near future.

    Barry

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    • #3
      Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

      Originally posted by Barry View Post
      Curtis: I would like to know if Honda has plans for bigger or dual fuel tanks? I don't know if this has been asked, I have looked around the sight and have not noticed if this has been addressed. I am planning to buy a GX this year but would wait if this is in the near future.

      Barry
      A 12 gge tank in a GX... every ngver's dream. I have asked Honda about this topic on more than one occassion. The tank is as large as they can get in the trunk and have any useable space. You'd be amazed at how many people steer away from a GX because of trunk space. Rediculous, right? Dead weight effects gas mileage. Why carry anything back there if you don't have to.

      Most of us would give a minor limb (if there is such a thing) to find an aux tank in the trunk of our GX. When I mention them to Honda, safety seems to be their primary consideration. I have never heard of an aux tank being any less safe than a single tank, but you'd think I was asking to install a nuclear reactor in the trunk, or something equally insane.

      To answer your question... don't delay your purchase waiting for this to appear as an option. It's not going to happen any time soon, if ever.
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      • #4
        Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

        Curtis,

        With the recent runup in gasoline prices and the increased demand for CNG vehicles, do you anticipate that any domestic manufacturers will produce a dedicated or bifuel car or minivan in the near future? The technology has already been developed, etc., so I would expect that they could be on the market within a couple years of any decision to restart production. It would be sure nice to have a small bifuel sedan in production as well as a minivan. I believe that dedicated vehicles although more efficient, would not sell nearly as well in the U.S. as the stations are too widely scattered in most of the country.

        Karl

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        • #5
          Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

          I'm new to thinking/researching a Bifuel or CNG and my one hesitation about buying such a car is this: will I be able to find a mechanic who can work on a Cavalier Bi-fuel if that's the way I go? Will my reliable, independent local mechanic be able to work on the car? I have less concern, of course, with the Honda Civic, since it's still in production.... and, well, it's Honda. Thanks, in advance, for advice.

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          • #6
            Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

            Originally posted by kgmc View Post
            I'm new to thinking/researching a Bifuel or CNG and my one hesitation about buying such a car is this: will I be able to find a mechanic who can work on a Cavalier Bi-fuel if that's the way I go? Will my reliable, independent local mechanic be able to work on the car? I have less concern, of course, with the Honda Civic, since it's still in production.... and, well, it's Honda. Thanks, in advance, for advice.
            I don't see why not the car is virtually identical in every other way as the original, it's just a different combustible

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            • #7
              Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

              I am new to this site and I am at a loss. I have an older box van that has a new engine and transmission making it a likely candidate for a conversion. There is plenty of room for all the attending hardware. Is it possible to convert an older carburated engine to CNG? It is a "74 GMC. Am I out of my mind? I have seen quotes for conversion tht are all over the map.

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              • #8
                Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                Originally posted by tractorboy View Post
                I am new to this site and I am at a loss. I have an older box van that has a new engine and transmission making it a likely candidate for a conversion. There is plenty of room for all the attending hardware. Is it possible to convert an older carburated engine to CNG? It is a "74 GMC. Am I out of my mind? I have seen quotes for conversion tht are all over the map.

                Sure it can be done , and California exempts 1975 and older vehicles from smog check.

                Even with a used tank , the conversion will not be cheap.

                Should you do it ? Depends if you can fuel at home or have a low cost station near , and how many miles a year you drive.

                Check some threads in service and conversions.

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                • #9
                  Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                  tractorboy, I think you'll find that any EPA approved kit installed on your vehicle would exceed the value of the van. I found that I could convert my old ElCamino to propane for a fraction of the cost of cng, about $2000, and the cng fueling stations sell propane for about the same price as cng. There seems to be fewer LPG fueling stations however, and if you buy bulk (for bar-b-que grills, it tends to run about $1 per gge more than LPG dispensed as fuel. You can check altfuelprices.com and see what's available in your area. The major problem is that no EPA kit for your vehicle that I'm aware of, but double check the list in the conversions forum: http://www.cngchat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=214
                  Even with sky higher than average resale values for cng/bi-fuel vehicles on EBay, Craigs List and here in the Marketplace forum, you may still be able to get into a newer used vehicle for about the price of a legal conversion. The only advantage of the vehicle you have is that it's pre smog in many states, and your biggest concern would be getting a conversion done at a decent price through a legitimate upfitter. There is a list of shops you can talk to in the conversions forum. http://www.cngchat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27

                  Best of luck and welcome to the group. Don't give up too easily.
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                  • #10
                    Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                    Originally posted by 636karl View Post
                    Curtis,

                    With the recent run up in gasoline prices and the increased demand for CNG vehicles, do you anticipate that any domestic manufacturers will produce a dedicated or bi fuel car or minivan in the near future? The technology has already been developed, etc., so I would expect that they could be on the market within a couple years of any decision to restart production. It would be sure nice to have a small bi fuel sedan in production as well as a minivan. I believe that dedicated vehicles although more efficient, would not sell nearly as well in the U.S. as the stations are too widely scattered in most of the country.

                    Karl
                    You'd think this would be a no-brainer for the OEM's, but that seems to be their problem these days... a lack of common sense. GM and Ford express no interest in this market, although both offer multiple cng offerings in Europe and S America.

                    I think they'd rather scoop up the billion's of dollars for R&D that the gov't is shelling out for emerging technologies than to utilize the one that already exists. My hat's off to Honda for staying in the market when all others have bailed out. There are precious few conversions available these days, and they are rather limited in their applications, mostly heavy and mid-duty vehicles.

                    John Mitton, of this site, is working on a Chevy Impala conversion that will soon be available to the market. Numbers may be limited and fleets that order early will get first shot.

                    Bi fuels don't seem to garner the kind of incentives given to dedicated vehicles, like federal tax credits and HOV lane access in most cases. They are desirable due to their practicality in many regions of the country. Your best bet there is to attend a GSA auction in your area and bring your checkbook, as they tend to be selling for premium prices these days.
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                    • #11
                      Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                      Great FAQ section! I'm a new member and have had a Civic GX for a year. I have a Phill unit and I love it. But I may be moving to Colorado. I know that they have many natural gas fields there, but from what I know the only gas available to homeowners is propane. Do you know if anyone is able to use a Phill unit in the state of Colorado (SW area around Durango)?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                        Originally posted by Tarpin View Post
                        Do you know if anyone is able to use a Phill unit in the state of Colorado (SW area around Durango)?
                        AFAIK, the purpose of the Phill is to fillup at home. Where ever your home is at, as long as you have a NG connection, you should be able to use it.


                        “Innovation is driven by having access to things.” -- Gleb Budman, CEO of backblaze.com

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                        • #13
                          Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                          Originally posted by Curtis View Post
                          You'd think this would be a no-brainer for the OEM's, but that seems to be their problem these days... a lack of common sense. GM and Ford express no interest in this market, although both offer multiple cng offerings in Europe and S America.

                          I think they'd rather scoop up the billion's of dollars for R&D that the gov't is shelling out for emerging technologies than to utilize the one that already exists. My hat's off to Honda for staying in the market when all others have bailed out. There are precious few conversions available these days, and they are rather limited in their applications, mostly heavy and mid-duty vehicles.

                          John Mitton, of this site, is working on a Chevy Impala conversion that will soon be available to the market. Numbers may be limited and fleets that order early will get first shot.

                          Bi fuels don't seem to garner the kind of incentives given to dedicated vehicles, like federal tax credits and HOV lane access in most cases. They are desirable due to their practicality in many regions of the country. Your best bet there is to attend a GSA auction in your area and bring your checkbook, as they tend to be selling for premium prices these days.
                          Curtis and Friends,
                          I am a newbie and I live in Ohio where there is only 3 pump stations in the entire state. I am doing research on CNG. As you know in East Liberty, Honda makes the GX and this is also car country of the "big 3". I had the opportunity to ask a GM representative why they are selling CNG cars here in the US? He could not answer me. The non-answer answer was answer in and of itself. Yet GM is selling a CNG car in Europe. I just wish that I had the facilities that you gents have in the West. I do want a CNG vehicle. What engine is in the Chevy Impala? I am eyeing a Honda. They make them here but you can not buy them here, yet. Time will come.

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                          • #14
                            Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                            Originally posted by jblue View Post
                            AFAIK, the purpose of the Phill is to fillup at home. Where ever your home is at, as long as you have a NG connection, you should be able to use it.
                            Thanks for your answer. My question, however, is that it seems that all homes in Colorado have propane as their gas supply. A few Colorado residents have told me that what they have there is not natural gas (methane) like we have here, it is PROPANE. And according to Honda, the Civic GX will not run on anything but natural gas (methane).

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                            • #15
                              Re: FAQ - Questions about natural gas and the cars that run on it?

                              Welcome to the group,Gabby. You're right, GM won't be getting back into the game anytime soon. As far as Honda dealers, here are a few of the fleet dealers in your region. Perhaps they would agree to sell you one as a private party.


                              1
                              Honda East
                              5805 Scarborough Blvd
                              Columbus, OH 43232
                              (614)864-5250
                              11.2 miles away
                              2
                              Motorcars Honda
                              2953 Mayfield Rd
                              Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
                              (216)932-2400
                              129.5 miles away
                              4
                              Urse Honda
                              350 Barnett Run Rd
                              Bridgeport, WV 26330
                              (304)842-5600
                              155.7 miles away
                              5
                              Baierl Honda
                              10430 Perry Hwy
                              Wexford, PA 15090
                              (724)935-3711
                              162.5 miles away
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