Gassing Up With. . .Gas

Gary S. Vasilash

Although there is a considerable amount of talk—here and elsewhere--about electrified vehicles, improvements to conventional internal combustion engines and the overall efficiency and performance of diesels, for some reason, natural gas, both compressed (CNG) and liquefied (LNG), don’t seem to garner quite as much attention. One of the reasons for this is simply that in the passenger car space, you’ve pretty much got one choice in the U.S. market, the Honda Civic.

LNG station

But just as is the case with electric vehicles or even hybrids, there is something to be said about the real benefit to the fleet use of vehicles that are powered by something other than gasoline or diesel fuel because fleets often have pre-determined driving patterns. That is, whether it is a delivery van or a long-haul truck, the drivers know what their routes are in advance of setting out, so they don’t have to have so-called “range anxiety” regarding running out of energy to propel their vehicle as it is planned in advance.

This came to mind when we saw the announcement from Clean Energy Fuels Corp., “the leading provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America” (who knew?), that it has now established a corridor from Los Angeles to Houston with a sufficient number of natural gas fueling stations that will allow truckers to make the run.

The Clean Energy website includes a map of where its available fueling stations are located throughout the U.S. There are concentrations in both the southwest and northeast (and Texas has quite a few), with the rest of the country having slim choices.

Given that there are often intersections with four conventional gas stations at them everywhere, the infrastructure issue goes a long way to explaining the comparative lack of visibility of LNG and CNG as alternative fuels.