Learning about Natural Gas Engines

by GuestPoster on September 29, 2011

You would think, with a husband that is working on his degree in mechanics and a father-in-law that is a mechanic, that I would know more about natural gas engines. The subject came up at the dinner table a few weeks ago, with my husband and father-in-law discussing their merits. As it turns out, there are a lot of great things about natural gas engines. There are also some things that aren’t so great. However, an investment in a natural gas engine could save you plenty of money and our Earth’s natural resources when used correctly.

The first thing that had to be explained to me was how a regular gas engine works. I didn’t really understand it before, but essentially what happens is that gas is forced into a cylinder in the engine, at which point a piston pushes it up and compresses it. When the gas is fully compressed, the spark plugs ignite, causing the gas to explode, propelling the piston downward. This creates the power that moves the car. Obviously, car engines are far more complex that just that, but that is the general idea behind them. With this knowledge, we can explore the world of natural gas engines. Natural gas is made up of primarily of methane, but there are other gases involved as well. In any case, the gases that are involved are generally those that have higher levels of hydrocarbons.

However, all of the gases in natural gas, with the exception of methane, are eliminated through the processing of the gas. Natural gas is primarily found in two places; in marshes and bogs and also in oil production. For the most part, the natural gas found in marshes and bogs is not harvested and used. The natural gas that is created during oil production is what we think of when we discuss natural gas. This gas is siphoned off and transported through large pipelines throughout the United States. Natural gas is used for a variety of purposes, including in cars and in home applications. Natural gas engines in cars are commonly referred to a CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas.

The wonderful thing about these cars is that natural gas is far less expensive than traditional fuel. Where right now the national average for fuel is somewhere around $3.47 per gallon, the national current price average is somewhere around eighty cents less per gallon for natural gas. This small amount of difference can save hundreds of dollars for the consumer over time. The only real disadvantage to using natural gas engines is that fuel stations for CNG cars are only available currently in specific areas of the country. I now live in an area of the country that is hundreds of miles away from my parent’s home.

There is no way that my husband and I would be able to travel all the way to my parent’s home in a car powered by a natural gas engine. However, with the current state of the economy and the rising costs of traditional fuel, there is a very good chance that natural gas will become a more important fuel source. With its increasing importance, you can be sure that there will be more fuel stations providing natural gas to CNG cars throughout our nation.

While it will be a while before my husband and I invest in another car, you can be sure that when we do, we will seriously consider buying an automobile that has a natural gas engine. This will enable us to spend less on fuel costs and help the environment by using a renewable resource. I am very excited by the prospect of this happening sometime in the near future.

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