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Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

I’m sure as of recently, you’ve been hearing and seeing a lot about CNG in Trinidad and Tobago. Being your neighbourhood, friendly eNRgy girl, I thought maybe I could shed some light on the topic, for those who are still in the dark.

What is CNG?

CNG or Compressed Natural Gas is commonly referred to as the cleanest of all fossil fuels. It is a clear, odourless, non-corrosive gas that can be used as a cheaper, cleaner and more efficient alternative to the traditional fuels used in our vehicles. It is called COMPRESSED Natural Gas because it is compressed so that sufficient fuel can be stored in the vehicle to extend the driving range.

Why should we use CNG?

1. Better for the environment

There are many benefits to using CNG. As previously mentioned, CNG “burns cleaner” in comparison to traditional petrol and diesel. In CNG powered cars, carbon monoxide emissions are reduced by approximately 80%, when compared to gasoline-powered cars. CNG also produces 45% fewer hydrocarbons than gasoline. Natural gas is still a contributor to greenhouse gases, however, the emissions are significantly reduced. CNG is also a non-toxic fuel, which means it doesn’t pose any danger of contamination to groundwater.

2. Better for your car

CNG combusting leaves little or no residue when compared to traditional gasoline, which means damages to pipes and tubes in the vehicle’s engine is quite less. Also, there’s less particulate matter that may potentially contaminate your motor oil (fewer thingies floating round in your oil guys…. YAY!!).

Whilst unleaded super and unleaded premium has octane levels of 95 and 97 respectively, CNG has an octane number of 125 which increases engine performance and efficiency. This simply means that “The octane rating of a fuel is a measurement used to indicate its resistance to engine knock. A fuel with a higher-octane rating will have more resistance to knock”. What exactly is this knocking you may ask? All you need to know is that engine knock es no bueno mis amigos. The higher the octane level, the less likely the fuel is going to pre-ignite or explode unexpectedly.

All these things, therefore, mean that the maintenance cost of your vehicle will be cut down since there can be long periods between tune-ups and oil changes. You know what that means…. MORE MONEY FOR KFC…. I mean tuition and groceries and other FUN adult responsibilities.

3. No smoke, no fire brigade.

Please alert Bunji, this is a fire-free zone. Since the ignition temperature of CNG (600 degrees celsius) is higher than that of gasoline and diesel (320 and 285 Degrees Celcius respectively), CNG vehicles are less likely to catch fire under any circumstance. If a leak occurs, CNG is lighter than air, which means it will dissipate into the atmosphere, unlike in the case of gasoline or diesel, which will pool in the ground and serve as a fire hazard.

4. Less likely to go BOOM!

CNG has a flammability rating of approximately 5 to 15%, which makes it less flammable and much safer than other fuels

5. Cheapness = Happiness

CNG is nearly one third the price of Super.

  • CNG = $1.00 TT/L

  • Super = $3.58 TT/L

  • Premium = $4.00 TT/L

  • Diesel = $2.30 TT/L

6. A little something in it for you 

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has removed Motor Vehicle Taxes and Value Added Tax (V.A.T) on imported vehicles (less than 2 years old) that are manufactured to use natural gas. That no tax thing sounding pretty good eh…

Also, one can receive a 25% tax credit on the cost of converting (limit of $10 000 per vehicle) to CNG.

7. Win win win, no matter what…

Not only do you benefit, but the government benefits as well. CNG use reduces the Government’s fuel subsidy (discussed in previous blog posts). It also generates foreign income from the sale of the liquid fuels which aren’t used.

What are the concerns with CNG?

As with anything in this world, there are also disadvantages to CNG. These are the setbacks for people who may be considering the conversion to CNG:

1. The weight of the vehicle is increased.

  • This is because of the installation of the pressure tank holding the CNG.

2. CNG vehicles are subjected to stricter safety measures.

3. Less vroom.

  • The engine power is reduced by 5-10% in converted vehicles

4. CNG filling stations.

  • There is not a great distribution of CNG filling stations in Trinidad and Tobago. There are about 20 stations (give or take a few) and most of them are located near to urban areas.

5. CNG vehicles have a shorter travelling distance in comparison to traditional gasoline vehicles.

What’s your choice?

There are many improvements which must be made if the Government wishes to encourage the population to convert to CNG. One of which MUST BE the increased availability of CNG nationwide, which means the establishment of more filling stations. Another is public education. The average citizen knows little to nothing about CNG and its benefits. If they are made aware, they can then make an informed decision. Thank God for this blog lol, y’all can make an informed decision.

So now that you’re aware of the pros and cons to Compressed Natural Gas, I leave you with the question, Would you choose a CNG powered vehicle over a traditional gasoline one?

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