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Old 07-31-2008, 02:33 PM   #1
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GM: Natural Gas is an enticing alternative

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Natural Gas: An Enticing Alternative
By Larry Burns
GM Vice President, Research & Development

Volatile oil prices have been dominating the news lately, underscoring growing unease about the automobile’s heavy dependence on petroleum. As these concerns reverberate from Main Street to Wall Street, General Motors is working toward new solutions that will answer the growing demand for personal transportation in an affordable and sustainable way.

Because GM believes there is no single technology solution to displace petroleum, we are aggressively pursuing biofuels such as E85 ethanol and leveraging other efficiencies such as advanced engines and hybrids. We also are developing entirely new technology solutions that do not rely on petroleum, such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle and fuel cell vehicles.

Another alternative, natural gas, is enticing because it is abundant, affordable and relatively clean. This week in Washington, D.C., the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming listened to testimony on the role natural gas can play in our nation’s transportation sector.

In the near term, we can use compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines. Mid term, we can leverage natural gas to create electricity for the Volt and future variants. In the long term, natural gas could be an excellent source for making hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles, either at the filling station or in people’s homes.

GM already has extensive experience with natural gas vehicles. Our Opel Zafira CNG is among the leaders in Europe, where gasoline and diesel fuel are costly, and we are exploring a dual-fuel approach with natural gas and gasoline for U.S. customers. While we are not ready to commit to a future production plan, we are taking a serious look at natural gas in the U.S. as yet another way to diversify our portfolio of affordable and sustainable transportation energy solutions.

From our experience with ethanol in Brazil and the U.S., we believe that dual-fuel vehicles provide the kind of flexibility that gives consumers the confidence to purchase them. Just as owners of our flex-fuel ethanol/gasoline vehicles have two fuel choices, purchasers of natural gas/gasoline vehicles could also buy either fuel.

If natural gas is to make a measurable impact, many vehicles need to use it, and it must be readily available. Collaboration with the energy industry and governments is key. Governments will likely need to provide incentives to encourage early adoption of the technology and to jump-start the fueling infrastructure.

Ultimately, the cost of vehicle technology and fuel will determine whether customers embrace natural gas as an automotive fuel. What we all can agree on is that the future of automotive transportation – and the global economies that depend on it – will not continue to thrive in a petroleum-centric world.
I'm not sure about Natural Gas, yet. But I'm just glad that GM is looking at all sorts of alternatives.
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Old 07-31-2008, 02:50 PM   #2
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I think it's a great idea. I don't think concentrating on ONE new energy source is going to do the job...we really need to use everything we can. Every car doesn't have to run on the same fuel.
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Old 07-31-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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Ford has it on there F150's now. BUT, It's a $9500 option and you can't alternate fuels. Its about a 50 to 60 cent savings per gallon. So, it would take 19,000 gallons of gas to have a return on your investment. Say you only get 15 miles to the gallon. Thats roughly 2.85 million miles if my math is correct.
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Old 07-31-2008, 06:05 PM   #4
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They talked about this on CNN the other night. Potential problem with natural gas as an automotive fuel is it will put even more strain on supplies driving the cost way up, kind of like corn for ethanol. E85 has gone from arond $2.00 to up to $3.00 now becasue of the price of corn which has been driven up by the use of it as ethanol.

One commentator suggested we use different fuels for different segments of the market. Like natural gas would be used mostly for heating our homes which would keep supply in check and help with the use of heating oil being used across the Northeast.

Use Nuclear and other green sources such as Geo-Thermal and clean coal and wind for electricity and so on. Sounded like a good plan to me.
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Old 07-31-2008, 07:48 PM   #5
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Honda has been selling the CNG poweredCivic GX for at least 10 years.

Nobody buys them.

CNG is like 130 octane and leaves little or no carbon deposits .
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Old 07-31-2008, 11:27 PM   #6
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Too bad we can't have nuclear powered cars.
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Old 07-31-2008, 11:35 PM   #7
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Remember 'Back to the Future" We need a "Mr Fusion"
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beelzebubba View Post
Honda has been selling the CNG poweredCivic GX for at least 10 years.

Nobody buys them.

CNG is like 130 octane and leaves little or no carbon deposits .
my parents have one, and they have had it for about 8 years or so. they got a pump put in at there house and fill up from there. my dad told me the other day that there bill is about $45 a month.
they have other cars too, but they use the honda as their daily driver.
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:37 PM   #9
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Edmunds has a CNG powered Civic in their long term fleet and they really like it. I'm not sure if this will really catch on though. I'm thinking the ideas Nickdago posted are more in line with what will really happen. I do applaud GM for being open to the idea though.
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Old 08-02-2008, 11:18 AM   #10
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The Navy uses CNG powered cars. The catch is they have filling stations on base.

But the mileage is really low.
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Old 08-02-2008, 01:05 PM   #11
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Yeah, there's lots of CNG vehicles in government fleets. They seem to work well enough.
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she really underestimates the damage i would do to her reproductive organs
http://allOffTopic.com is the place for all the naughty stuff you can't get away with on this forum...
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Old 08-02-2008, 05:01 PM   #12
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Guys, gas is not the way to go.

Yes, it's popular here in Europe. Yes, it's money saver - but you still have to burn gas:gasoline in about 50:50 relation.

Besides that it's a PITA. Takes up space in trunk. You can't drive into some parkings under the roof (most parkings by shopping centres in the middle of cities). It's still not very safe (we're talking about pressurized flammable and explosive gas). Every-year technical diagnostics of your car (mandatory in some european countries) is FEW TIMES more expensive if car has gas installation.

Gas installation has reached in Europe the reputation of "cheapskate" way of saving on one's car, and starts to be tolerated only amongst cars that are extensively used - like taxi cabs or company cars. Just try and suggest a European with a powerful (or sports or luxury) car that he adds a gas installation to his car. He'd treat your arse like he treats his gas pedal

Seriously, don't try it

I'm waiting for electric and hydrogen-powered cars though. I don't know how 6th gen Camaro will look like, but I'm sure it won't be gasoline-powered
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:02 PM   #13
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I've driven in a car converted to use cng, it drove normally and it had a gasoline reserve. But there are better uses for methane than burning it in our cars, such as for 'on demand' power plants and heating homes.
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