CNG Compressors

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CNG Compressors

What are CNG Compressors?

CNG Compressors are "gas compressors" that are designed for application in the field of "Compressed Natural Gas" or CNG operations which compress natural gas, or biomethane, into CNG fuel tanks as a far-less pollution alternative to gasoline or diesel fuel.  CNG Compressors may refuel a CNG fuel tank (located in the trunk of a car, bed of a truck, or under a truck between the chassis of the vehicle) directly, or via a "cascade" which is a series of CNG tanks.

Gas compressors are mechanical devices that increase the pressure of the (natural) gas by reducing its volume.

What is Compressed Natural Gas?

Compressed Natural Gas, also referred to as "CNG" is natural gas (methane or CH4) that has been compressed by a gas compressor, into a high-pressure tank for use in NGV's - "Natural Gas Vehicles."


CNG Compressors

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Compressed Natural Gas - CNG

Photo of a natural gas fuel pump.Compressed natural gas is widely available throughout the U.S. from domestically produced natural gas wells and natural gas pipelines and local distribution companies. Natural gas is available to end-users through the utility infrastructure. It is also clean burning and produces significantly fewer harmful emissions than reformulated gasoline or diesel when used in natural gas vehicles.  In addition, commercially available medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engines have demonstrated over 90% reductions of carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter and more than 50% reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx) relative to commercial diesel engines. Natural gas can either be stored onboard a vehicle as compressed natural gas (CNG) at 3,000 or 3,600 psi or as liquefied natural gas (LNG) at typically 20-150 psi. Natural gas can also be blended with hydrogen.

What Types of Vehicles Run on Compressed Natural Gas?

According to the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition (NGVC), as of 2005 there are 130,000 light- and heavy-duty compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles in the United States and 5 million worldwide.

Dedicated natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are designed to run only on natural gas; bi-fuel NGVs have two separate fueling systems that enable the vehicle to use either natural gas or a conventional fuel (gasoline or diesel). In general, dedicated NGVs demonstrate better performance and have lower emissions than bi-fuel vehicles because their engines are optimized to run on natural gas. In addition, the vehicle does not have to carry two types of fuel, thereby increasing cargo capacity and reducing weight.

There are a few light-duty NGVs still available, but if you want a specific type of vehicle, you may want to consider retrofitting a vehicle to an NGV by using an aftermarket conversion system. Heavy-duty NGVs are also available as trucks, buses, and shuttles. Approximately one of every five new transit buses in the United States is powered by natural gas. 

As a new twist, tests are being conducted using natural gas vehicles that are fueled with a blend of compressed natural gas and hydrogen. 

Vehicle Availability

This model year, auto manufacturers are producing fewer models than in years past. In order to get more vehicle options, you may choose to retrofit your own vehicle. 

Fuel Availability

CNG fueling stations are located in most major cities and in many rural areas. Public LNG stations are limited and used mostly by fleets and heavy-duty trucks. LNG is available through suppliers of cryogenic liquids. 

Vehicle Safety

Natural gas vehicles are just as safe as today's conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles. They use pressurized tanks, which have been designed to withstand severe impact, high external temperatures, and environmental exposure.

Adequate training is required to operate and maintain natural gas vehicles because they are different than gasoline or diesel vehicles. Training and certification of service technicians is required. 

Vehicle Costs

In general, a natural gas vehicle can be less expensive to operate than a comparable conventionally fueled vehicle depending on natural gas prices. Natural gas can cost less than gasoline and diesel (per energy equivalent gallon); however, local utility rates can vary.

Purchase prices for natural gas vehicles are somewhat higher than for similar conventional vehicles. The auto manufacturers' typical price premium for a light-duty CNG vehicle can be $1,500 to $6,000, and for heavy-duty trucks and buses it is in the range of $30,000 to $50,000. Federal and other incentives can help defray some of the increase in vehicle acquisition costs. In addition, fleets may need to purchase service and diagnostic equipment if access to commercial CNG/LNG vehicle maintenance facilities is not available. 

Retrofitting a conventional vehicle so it can run on CNG may cost $2,000 to $4,000 per vehicle.

Maintenance Considerations

High-pressure tanks that hold CNG require periodic inspection and certification by a licensed inspector. 

Fleets doing on-site maintenance may need to upgrade their facilities to accommodate NGVs. Costs for upgrading maintenance facilities will depend on the number of modifications required.

Some natural gas vehicle manufacturers now recommend oil changes at intervals twice as long as similar gasoline or diesel models (10,000-12,000 miles). Refer to the vehicle owner's manual or consult the manufacturer to determine proper maintenance intervals.




CNG Compressors

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