"The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. ... It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion."
-- Adam Smith
natural gas is no different than propane or butane in that it leaves practically no emmissions,thats why fork lifts use one of the three fuels,so people in warehouses dont die of carbon monoxide or from choking.california has used natural gas in their buses for over a decade now with success.how natural gas propane and butane burn so clean is because they all boil at room temperature,causing 100 conversion from liquid to gas for combustion.gasoline only partially evaporates at room temperature and needs heat and compression to vaporize,but it never fully turns to vapor.diesel and other oily fuels need extreme compression to atomize enough to ignite,anywhere from 18-1 to 25-1,whereas gasoline needs 7.5 to one to run 87 octane.
arguing on whether natural gas will work or not is pointless,because lp gas has been used for decades with success and natural gas is not far from lp gas.infact if i remember correctly hippies used to convert vw vans and beetles to run on emissionless propane in the 60's and 70's.
“You can lead a horse to water, but it is probably crowded with all those people you taught to fish.”
This is hardly new technology. CNG and Propane powered vehicles have been around since at least the 1970s. The US Air Force started a program in the 1980s to use CNG and since then, a large number of their buses and many of their pickups have been CNG (yes, they came from GM then also). However, the explosive potential of CNG vs Diesel or Gasoline would severly limit it's use in combat vehicles. The only real thing that is new is that the factory is installing the system and it will be covered by your warrenty instead of invalidating that warrenty.
But one problem that may limit the expansion of CNG vehicles is that the natural gas industry is currently under attack by enviromental groups (yes, the ones who want cleaner engines but seem to only accept electric as an alternative). They are concerned with the contamination of ground water from the fluids that are used to hydralically fracture the shale inorder to extract the natural gas. There is currently a big battle between Pennsylvania and the EPA over this right now.
Problem number two is that BP (yes, that BP) siezed control of large amount of our natrual gas production during the melt-down in 2008. In otherwords, an oil company will have to ramp up production to provide that CNG at a reasonable price but would be cutting it's oil profits by doing so. BP is not the only oil company controlling CNG. So, unless they are going to see equal or greater profits from CNG, we probably will not see it become easily available. While I, as a general rule, do not like government intervention in industry, I am afraid that in this case, the government would have to be the one to force the change. Unfortunately, you have both oil and enviromentalist fighting against it in this case.
Someone mentioned that we could not get full use out of CNG with gasoline compression. The current limit on compression for gasoline engines is the available octane rating, higher compression needs higher octane, however, the government and enviromentalist have been working hard since the 1960s to reduce the octane ratings. E-85 gasoline should have an octane rating of over 100, however it is blended to keep the octane down. Alchohol has a natural high octane rating which is why it has been used in racing for decades, however it also burns much hotter making it impractical for use in standard motors. We have had the technology to use pure alchohol for a longtime now, however, the cost of those engines are a bit high (or at least thats the claim).
Someone also mentioned Bio Diesel, sounds good, just one problem, in order to produce that bio diesel we have use or displace food crops. This is also the problem with Ethanol, however they are finding ways around this for Ethanol production. There may be a viable solution out there for Bio Diesel also.
Overall this is a step that has been needed to be taken for at least 30 years now, but don't expect the enviromentalist or those backed by the oil industry rushing to embrace it anytime soon.
Heres another way to go with ng that gets rid of the distribution problem by liquefying it.
Karen Goldberg trying to make natural gas more accessible fuel option | Energy | EarthSky