Natural gas is an odorless, nontoxic gaseous hydrocarbon mixture, consisting mostly of methane, but also other gases such as propane and butane. The majority of natural gas is produced by the extraction of oil and gas, but it can also be created through more natural processes like the decomposition of organic materials to create bio-gas. Natural gas is a very clean-burning fuel, the cleanest of all hydrocarbons with an octane rating of over 120, which makes it a great fuel for transportation.
Around 90% of the natural gas used in the United States is produced domestically, so the use of natural gas in the transportation sector supports local economies and promotes US energy independence. The most common form of natural gas is compressed natural gas (CNG), which is compressed at around 3600 psi to maintain an energy density similar to gasoline. Natural gas can also be liquefied to increase its density and therefore extend the range of a vehicle by cooling the gas to -265 degrees Fahrenheit, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) is used in heavy-duty applications where a lot of fuel is consumed in a short time frame.
In addition to being domestically produced and cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel, natural gas is also abundant and cheap. A gasoline gallon equivalent of natural gas is cheaper on average than gasoline and is expected to remain consistently lower in the near future as estimated by the Energy Information Administration. Natural gas is cheaper, cleaner, and more domestic than gasoline or diesel.
FAQsHow and where is natural gas produced and distributed?
How is natural gas used?
Is natural gas safe for use in vehicles?
What natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are available?
- Dedicated: Vehicles that are designed to run exclusively on natural gas.
- Bi-fuel: Vehicles that have two separate fueling systems that enable them to run on either natural gas or gasoline.
- Dual-fuel: Vehicles, traditionally limited to heavy-duty applications, that have fuel systems that run on natural gas, and use diesel fuel for ignition assistance.
Light-duty vehicles are typically equipped with dedicated or bi-fuel systems, while heavy-duty vehicles will have dedicated or dual-fuel systems. If you would like to search for your own NGV, please use the Alternative Fuel & Advanced Vehicle Search Engine. To learn more about what options are available, please click here.
If you are not interested in the available NGVs, consumers and fleets have the option of economically and reliably converting their existing light- or heavy-duty gasoline or diesel vehicles for natural gas operation using certified installers. To learn more about conversion options, please click here.
How do NGVs work?
How do NGVs perform?
Are there financial incentives to purchase NGVs?
Where can I learn more?
- Alternative Fuels Data Center
- The AFDC has almost too much information about natural gas and other alternative fuels, making them a perfect source for information.
- NGV America
- Another great website with a wealth of information about natural gas and NGVs.
- The Natural Gas Solution
- A whole organization dedicated to the future of natural gas as an energy source in America and as a transportation fuel.