Autofield Blog

More on Natural Gas Vehicles


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6. June 2012

According to NaturalGas.org, “The United States has vast resources of natural gas available for extraction. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that there are 2,632 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable natural gas resources in the United States in its 2011 Annual Energy Outlook. The National Petroleum Council estimates U.S. recoverable natural gas resources to be 1,451 Tcf in their 2007 report, while the Potential Gas Committee estimates the most likely level to be 1,897 Tcf as of 2010.” Which is not all that meaningful in itself, except that the numbers—trillions—are high.

So it goes on to note, “When combined with EIA’s latest estimate of proved gas reserves, the Potential Gas Committee says total available future supply is 2,170 Tcf, which would equal about 100 years of supply. Americans consume an average of 22 Tcf of natural gas per year. The Potential Gas Committee has estimated rising domestic supply in each of its past few reports.

“The United States is a large consumer of natural gas. In 2010, the United States used 24.1 Tcf of natural gas, making it one of the worldwide leaders in natural gas consumption. According to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) International Energy Outlook, the United States typically accounts for 20 to 25 percent of total worldwide consumption of natural gas.”

Westport injector

Westport high-pressure natural gas fuel injector

And given things like the Honda Civic powered by natural gas, as well as an array of bi-fuel pickups, there may be even more natural gas used.

But the real application for the fuel, the one that makes more sense, is commercial rather than consumer, as the supply of fuel is more deterministic.

Yesterday, for example, a supplier of natural gas engines, Westport Innovations, announced that it had signed an agreement with Caterpillar to co-develop natural gas tech for off-road equipment including mining trucks and locomotives.

According to Steve Fisher, vp, Caterpillar Large Power Systems Div., “Many of our customers are asking for natural-gas powered equipment in order to reap the financial and environmental benefits.”

Those customers, presumably, won’t have to go in search of fueling stations.

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