- Number 356 |
- February 13, 2012
A "natural" solution for transportation
As the United States transitions away from a primarily petroleum-based transportation industry, a number of different alternative fuel sources-ethanol, biodiesel, electricity and hydrogen-have each shown their own promise. Hoping to expand the pool even further, researchers at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory have begun to investigate adding one more contender to the list of possible energy sources for light-duty cars and trucks: compressed natural gas (CNG).
Compressed natural gas is composed primarily of methane, which when compressed occupies less than one percent of the volume it occupies at standard pressure. CNG is typically stored in cylindrical tanks that would be carried onboard the vehicles it fuels.
Because the domestic production of natural gas has increased dramatically over the past ten years, making a large number of the cars and light trucks currently on the road CNG-compatible would help to improve U.S. energy security. "As a country, we don't lack for natural gas deposits," said Argonne mechanical engineer Thomas Wallner. "There are fewer obvious challenges with direct supply than with most other fuels."Argonne already has the capability to help automotive industry leaders test and analyze CNG vehicles. In particular, Argonne's Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation Model gives experts the ability to examine the greenhouse gas emissions of various fuels from "well-to-wheels," involving each stage of production, distribution and combustion. "We have years of expertise working with industry to develop alternative-fuel vehicles as well as the tools necessary for the public to understand the impact of these vehicles on the environment," said Argonne mechanical engineer Michael Duoba.
[Jared Sagoff, 630.252.5549,