Compressed Natural Gas is fast becoming the alternative-go-to-fuel of choice, with over 22.7 million vehicles worldwide filling their tanks with CNG. It first entered the fuel market in the late 19th century, with its popularity accelerating in Europe post-World-War-II. Natural gas is extracted from shale plays – subterranean wells containing trapped methane – and pumped to the surface where it’s for filtering and compression into CNG form.
Touted as the cleaner, more-environmentally friendly choice compared to other fossil fuels, CNG works especially well for combustion engines, as its high-octane rating and low-carbon content create more complete combustions with fewer emissions. In fact, there are little or no emissions during fueling for dedicated CNG vehicles (this type of emission accounts for 50% of a vehicle’s hydrocarbon emissions) and there is a 15% reduction in tail-pipe CO2 emissions for dual-fuel trucks. And, there are significant reductions in NOx and PM10s compared to petrol and diesel, with these reductions often exceeding the Euro 5 Emissions Standard.
When coupled with the fact that switching to CNG can cut costs between 40%-50%, it’s no surprise that it’s becoming increasingly popular, reflected by the ever-growing the number of filling stations around the globe. However, constructing CNG filling stations requires a little more planning and effort than a standard petrol station. For retail consumption, the right combination of pressure and storage need to be carefully calculated, as the size of a compressor and station capacity will impact the eventual cost of fuel and range for vehicles.
The planning and installation of appropriately-sized gas connections and accurate meters thus, is crucial, especially as there are two types of CNG infrastructure at the filling stations; time-fill and fast-fill. The main structural differences between the two systems is the storage capacity available and the size of the compressor, both determining the amount of fuel dispensed and CNG delivery time.
Generally, fast-fill stations are best suited for retail environments servicing private vehicles, which need to fill up at speed. Time-fill stations, on the other hands, are used primarily by fleets and work best for vehicles with large tanks which need to refuel at a central location every night.
With increased efficiency, reduced environmental risks and minimised costs, growth in a biogas like CNG is great for the long-term viability of gas as source of energy. In fact, here at Squire Energy, we’ve recently connected with a CNG provider, CNG Services Ltd., resulting in the installation of a meter at a filling station near Leyland. Squire Energy’s Director, Mark Halsey said: “CNG is one of the fastest-growing alternative fuels on the market, and I’m thrilled with our burgeoning partnership with CNG Services Ltd. We’re looking forward to powering ahead with plenty of CNG projects in the pipeline.”