POSTED: Monday, July 9, 2012 - 10:28pm
UPDATED: Friday, September 27, 2013 - 3:09pm
The cost of natural gas is near an all time low.
And many people, most notably legendary Oilman T. Boone Pickens, have argued that we should save oil for things for which there is no substitute, and power our cars with natural gas.
OK, fair enough.
So, exactly how do you do that?
This looks like an ordinary auto repair shop in any city. But this is Clean Fuel Conversions. Cars drive in here dirty, and drive out clean.
Ronnie Oldham is the owner of the shop, and says, compressed natural gas is the only way to go.
And it works for everything from big rigs, to transit buses, to his personal Ford Focus.
The system is remarkably simple, though still a bit expensive.
The biggest change you’ll notice, particularly if you want the capability of running on gasoline when you need to, is the tank.
Think of it as a giant scuba tank, and the challenge is finding a place for it. On pickup trucks, its easier. Just put in a fake tool box in the back.
Owners love it…
This church transit bus had 300,000 miles on it when the conversion was made.
Under the hood, Oldham showed us the work involved.
The upside is tempting. Your vehicle burns cleaner, both out the tailpipe and under the hood.l natural gas leaves no carbon deposits inside the engine, so engine life is much longer.
The US has ample natural gas supplies for a century or more. And in essence, that could make us energy independent, a goal every politician says he wants.
Fueling up is simple as Oldham demonstrated at the Austin Airport. You fill just like at a gas station, and the only thing that is different is the price.
Ok, so, what’s the downside? That can be summed up easily…availability.
Oldham showed us a website with all the natural gas refueling stations in the country. In Texas and Oklahoma, you’re in pretty good shape. Go to North Dakota? Good luck.
Right now, the conversion cost is fairly high, but as more vehicles hit the road, that will come down, like any new technology.
So for the moment, it makes the most sense for commercial vehicles that log a lot of miles.
But for personal cars and trucks, it’s starting to make a lot of sense to a lot of people.