Is natural gas for cars different from natural gas for heating?
Alternative energy sources have been on the rise for some time. We see an increasing number of natural gas-powered vehicles on the road. In this regard, are all gases interchangeable? In addition, is the gas for cars the same as the gas used in heaters? We get to the bottom of this subject.
Natural gas here, natural gas there. But cars don’t take everything.
Natural gas vehicles don’t use the same fuel as heaters and other household appliances. In general, vehicles are fueled with compressed natural gas (CNG), while heating appliances require liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
CNG and LPG: the differences
What are the differences between these two types of gases? First, CNG is mainly methane. LPG, on the other hand, is made of propane. They are therefore fuels with different chemical formulations. Their energy content is not the same either. LPG is higher than CNG at 25 MJ/L (megajoules per litre) versus 9 mL/L, respectively. The same applies to their storage pressure, which is 2 MPa (megapascal) for LPG and 20 to 25 MPa for CNG. In addition, CNG-powered vehicles must generally use dedicated fueling stations, while LPG-powered equipment is transported via a dedicated line, either directly or through a cylinder near the building.
The similarities between gas for cars and gas used for heating
Despite the significant differences, there are some similarities between the two fuels. First, both LPG and CNG can be stored in cylinders or tanks. Secondly, each of these natural gases has to be separated before they can be used for domestic, professional and commercial purposes. Finally, CNG and LPG come from oil well drilling in addition to being hydrocarbon fuels.
So, what about the gas in your car?
In theory, both compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas can be used as fuel in vehicles and to power domestic appliances. However, don’t think that you can swap them so easily.
Since CNG has a lower energy density, you would need a larger tank to compensate for this difference, since LPG has almost three times the energy density of CNG. Also, the pressure difference between LPG and CNG would require a much heavier and more expensive cylinder or tank. Moreover, due to the low energy capacity of CNG cylinders, they would have to be replaced at least twice as often. This means that a homeowner who wants to heat their home with natural gas but is not directly connected to the supply system would have the drawback of checking the cylinders and placing orders much more frequently.
If you ever want to convert your car or one of your heating appliances, be aware that the cost of conversion is very high, especially due to regulators that operate at different pressures. Also, conversion kits are not available for all devices, so it is important to be well informed before choosing the solution that is best for you.
Ultimately, the volumetric energy density and pressure influence the convenience and comparable affordability of use.
CNG for cars: to the future and beyond!
Fueling a vehicle with CNG alone saves about 30% on regular fuel. That’s without mentioning that its price fluctuates much less than other fuels.
To learn more about the subject or make the switch to CNG, contact EBI Natural Gas, the leading expert throughout the province.