In a time where everyone is concerned if they will be able to afford to fill up their gas tank there has become a huge hype for natural gas as the new fuel. With fuel prices consistently over $4 a gallon and the risk that it could easily reach over $5 any day soon many people are seeking some kind of relief. Many people have found that there are some great old cars like the Geo Metro that can get over 40 mpg and are dirt cheap if you can find one that is still running. Others are investing in hybrid cars in the hopes that the higher mpg will save them a few bucks in the end. As much as higher mpg is great it doesn't fix the issue that they are still dependent on gas.
Many people are now looking to alternative fuels as a solution to the rise in oil prices. One of the biggest contenders in the race of substitute fuels is natural gas. It can be delivered and used either as a gasoline or as a liquid; you may have noticed CNG (compressed natural gas) and LNG (liquefied natural gas) for vehicles already. It works similarly to the fuel we're used to; it's generally pushed into an internal combustion engine to provide energy.
What are the advantages to Natural Gas as an Alternative Fuel?
One of the great advantages to it is that it's a fuel we are already used to. Many of us already use it in our houses for heating and cooking food. Area of the infrastructure is already in place to process and distribute it. The technology exists to work with it in a multitude of different applications already, from heating and cooking, to powering your car engine. It has the potential to produce fewer emissions than regular gasoline. But the biggest advantage that most people see is that it's easily half the price per gallon of regular gasoline or diesel (at least at the moment).
So What Are the Disadvantages to Natural Gas?
On its own it is not a renewable resource. Although it could be man-made and produced, known as biogas, it generally requires large amounts of biomass and substantial processing to make it high quality enough to be used as an energy for vehicles. Of today large amounts of natural gas have to be drilled up from underground resources to meet the needs. Just like oil, natural gas resources are limited. If the United States continues drilling it up at the current rate there is only about 40 years worthy of in America's largest reference, underground shale deposits. That is assuming drilling will probably stay at the current rate. There are already plans to increase the drilling for shale fuel to meet the increasing need. If we were to double the mining efforts that means there is only 20 years worth in the ground!
Without a huge push for the creation of biogas with an improvement in technology to make it practical we may run out of domestic natural gas if something doesn't change. Gas definitely has advantages, but at the moment, the disadvantages seem to outweigh the benefits until renewable biogas technology can catch up with demand.
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