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CNG May Not Be So Enviro-Friendly After All

New report blames leaks for worsening emissions.

by on Feb.19, 2014

The Ram 2500 Heavy Duty is one of the rare vehicles offering a factory CNG package.

It’s been hailed as a clean, cost-effective alternative to gasoline – as well as coal – but there are some new doubts being raised about the environmental benefits of natural gas.

The fuel has been gaining support, especially in the auto industry, where proponents are pressing to get more manufacturers to offer compressed natural gas, or CNG, options.  And with production rapidly expanding along with the increased of fracking-style drilling, even President Obama is lending his support as a way to reduce both America’s dependence upon foreign oil and the production of global-warming CO2 gas.

Environmental Matters!

But a new study by a group of scientists from various federal labs, as well as MIT, Stanford, Harvard and four other universities is throwing that optimism into question.  If anything, natural gas “is not likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” cautions the study’s lead author Adam Brandt, of Stanford. At best, switching a car from gasoline to CNG is “on the borderline in terms of (the benefits to) the climate,” he says.


Audi Transforming Wind Power into e-Gas for New A3 g-Tron

New model will use synthetic natural gas that recycles CO2.

by on Mar.13, 2013

Audi says the new A3 Sportback g-Tron produces 80% less CO2 than the same car running on gasoline.

Imagine capturing the gases spewing out of your car’s tailpipe and feeding them back into its engine.  In a sense, that’s what Audi hopes to do with the new A3 g-Tron.

The German maker is the latest among a small but growing list of manufacturers introducing vehicles that can run on CNG, a fuel generally hailed as more environmentally friendly than conventional gasoline. But what’s particularly significant about the launch of the A3 g-Tron is how Audi wants buyers to fill up their tanks.

It's a Gas!

Working with Germany’s largest utility EWE, the luxury marque has tapped into a low-cost source of excess power from the wind farms spreading out over the northern corner of that country. In a complex process, a pilot refinery Audi has funded splits water into its fundamental components and then combines the hydrogen with CO2 to create a synthetic version of natural gas.

It will offer as many as 1,500 g-Tron buyers special contracts for this so-called e-Gas, enough for them to each drive about 15,000 kilometers, of about 9,500 miles, annually — each producing a fraction of the CO2 emissions of a regular automobile.


Guest Opinion: Natural Gas as The “Buy American” Energy Alternative

One fossil fuel that might make sense even to “greenies”?

by on Jul.13, 2012

A rare public CNG filling stations near Los Angeles.

Best known as the founder and former Chairman and CEO of Subaru of America, Inc., Harvey Lamm is the co-author — with Syd Havely — of the recently-published book, “Getting Traction—The Subaru Story and the Entrepreneurial Mindset.”

At a time when other executives might be enjoying retirement, however, Lamm has begun a new career as Chairman of VNG.Co., a firm hoping to develop a nationwide, retail-oriented CNG fueling network to support fleets, including commercial and government agencies. Lamm is far from the only proponent of CNG and a slowly growing number of manufacturers, notably including Honda, are lending support with new products able to take advantage of the clean and relatively inexpensive fuel. This opinion piece was adapted from Lamm’s new book, now available through

We Brake for News!

One can’t turn on the TV or read the paper without hearing that either the electric car is the vehicle of the future or that rumors of its troubles—technical, mechanical, financial, or sales—are overblown.  All may be true. Technology is a moving target. There is no ‘finish line’ or silver bullet that we can see now for how the nation’s 250 million cars now on the road burning 350 million gallons of gasoline a day or the approximately 15 million cars and light trucks being added each year will be powered.  One thing is certain, though—relying on gasoline alone or electric alone or even hybrid electrics won’t get us to energy independence.  But there is an alternative fuel that will, in combination with oil and gas and electrics and hybrids, and that is a fuel source America is blessed with in abundance—natural gas.


EPA: Make Alternate Fuel Conversions Easier

The goal is more environmentally friendly conversions.

by on May.12, 2010

In 2006, the Civic GX became available for the first time to retail customers in California. Since then, retail sales have expanded to New York, Utah and now, Oklahoma. Currently, 43 dealers in California, 19 in New York and eight in Utah have added Retail Sales Addendums to their Honda Sales Agreements that enable them to sell the Civic GX on a retail basis. When including dealerships that sell fleet vehicles, there are 134 Civic GX dealers in 33 states.

Honda is the only OEM selling a CNG-powered vehicle at retail in the United States.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to make it easier for manufacturers to gain approval to sell fuel conversions.

Such conversion allow vehicles to run on alternative fuels, which appeal to some consumers concerned about energy security, fuel costs, or emissions.

EPA is currently interested in encouraging innovation and spurring conversions that use what it calls “clean energy” technologies.

To accomplish this, EPA is proposing to revise the regulatory criteria to make it easier for gaining an exemption from the Clean Air Act prohibition against tampering for the conversion of vehicles and engines to operate on an alternative fuel.

Under existing EPA regulations, an exemption from the tampering prohibition may only be granted to vehicles and engines covered by a “certificate of conformity.” The proposed revisions would create additional compliance options beyond certification that would protect manufacturers of clean alternative fuel conversion systems against a tampering violation.

The new options would alleviate some of the economic and procedural impediments to alternative fuel conversions while maintaining environmental safeguards to ensure that acceptable emission levels from converted vehicles are sustained, according to EPA.

Under the proposed approach, compliance requirements would vary based on age of the vehicle or engine being converted. EPA said it found that the compliance process for older vehicles and engines could be streamlined, while maintaining environmental safeguards. As opposed to a one-size fits all approach, requirements would now be based on whether a vehicle or engine is new, intermediate-age, or outside its expected useful life.