Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Compressed Natural Gas: Fuel Of The Future For Autos?

The following article gives a brief summary of what could be done with natural gas. The cost of these home fueling stations called "The Phill" is high today, but as with most things, if they were made in quantity the price would come down.

As I see it, one of the beauties of this system is that many, if not most people already have natural gas being piped into their homes for heating and cooking. It is usually very safe, and all the infrastructure to supply this gas is in place. Can anyone think of a better way of lessening our dependence on foreign oil?

As I've shown before on this blog, natural gas is the cleanest of hydrocarbon-based fuels, and as we're seeing with these Shale Gas plays around the United States, the gas is there, in the ground, ready to be produced. Someone with some deep pockets ought to buy the company making "The Phill". Boone Pickens has apparently tried, and maybe he will still succeed.

Maker of Natural Gas Fueling Systems Tanks
By Clifford Krauss (source) The Phill, a residential compressed natural gas fueling system, never really caught on.

Natural gas is cheap and plentiful, and last summer the future for vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas — or CNG — looked bright. But then crude oil and gasoline prices tanked. Now, the future of CNG cars looks a lot less certain.

It hardly got any attention, but late last week FuelMaker, the Honda-owned maker of natural gas fueling systems — including a residential model called the “Phill” — filed for bankruptcy.
Clean Energy Fuels, a natural gas distributor owned by T. Boone Pickens, had been trying to buy the company from Honda for $17 million, but the two sides could never make a deal. The Phill, which has been on the market about six years, never caught on. Perhaps that is because it takes four hours to fill an empty tank with the device, and it costs up to $6,000.

An even bigger problem for FuelMaker might have been the fact that very few drivers own CNG vehicles. Most are fleet cars, buses and trucks owned by companies and public transportation agencies. And, of course, few gasoline filling stations offer compressed natural gas.

At the moment, the Honda Civic GX is the only CNG car on the market, and it is available at only a select number of dealerships in a few states including California and New York.

No comments:

Post a Comment