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Car and Driver Supports CNG to Hydrogen Refueling Transition

On June 3, 2011 I had talked about building a hydrogen car refueling infrastructure that mimics the compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling infrastructure that is already in place in the United States. The idea behind this suggestion is to not reinvent the wheel and to avoid mimicking the gasoline refueling infrastructure (120,000 gasoline stations nationwide).

The point instead for hydrogen refueling is to mimic the less than 1,000 CNG fueling stations from coast to coast. And it looks like Don Sherman from Car and Driver at least somewhat agrees with this assertion.

Sherman states in his article titled Natural Gas: The Next Step on the Road to Hydrogen, “FedEx and UPS are both in the early stages of converting their fleets to run on NG. By the end of this year, everyday consumers will be able to buy not just natural-gas Honda Civics but Chevy, Ford, GMC, and Ram pickups running on NG as well.”

He goes onto say, “These lessons are the next step in mankind’s move from carbon toward hydrogen energy consumption … As cavemen, we began with wood fires 750,000 years ago. The carbon-to-hydrogen ratio in wood is about ten-to-one. Coal, with carbon and hydrogen in a one- or two-to-one ratio (depending on the variety), represented a major step forward when it came into wide use during the 19th century – though we know better today. The 20th century brought petroleum, shifting the balance toward hydrogen in a two- (or so) to-one ratio with carbon. NG, which is mainly methane, continues this trend with four hydrogen atoms for every carbon atom. Extending the path we’ve followed for centuries will eventually take us to a full hydrogen economy where carbon is no longer part of the deal.”

So, there you have it. Another car advocate sees compressed natural gas as stepping stone technology towards hydrogen cars and vehicles. And why not? CNG cars are already commercially available. There is already a nationwide CNG refueling infrastructure. CNG is cleaner burning than gasoline and CNG is cheaper than gasoline. The only downside is that CNG is not zero emissions and this can be solved by transitioning to hydrogen at some point along the future timeline of automotive progression. This sounds like a sensible path to me. What do you think?

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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  1. Kevin

    Here’s a good resource, a PDF file that talks about CNG fueling stations and nationwide infrastructure:

  2. Ok but, now seems to be the time for fuel cell backup generators for cell phone towers, gasoline stations, natural gas transmission line compressors, domestic water pumps, etc., fueled with natural gas. Yeah, that’s so yesterday but what about having the local Utility putting these generators on an interruptible power rate so they can be tested by providing power during peak periods and to reduce installed cost. The point being to increase the fuel cell market to incent cost effective fuel cell manufactoring.

  3. It seems wasteful to build multiple fueling infrastructures, but I don’t blame UPS and FedEx for switching over to natural gas since their vehicles refuel at centralized locations.

    Of course, having a preexisting natural gas station means that a prepackaged SMR system and dispenser can be installed easily.

  4. Keep up the good work about Hydrogen Fuel for our cars soon.
    I am a retierd NASA MSFC propulsion engineer in Huntsville alabama. I would like to help your effforts.
    Robert L. Middleton P.E.

  5. Kevin

    Thanks for your comments and glad to have you on-board!

  6. fuel cell cars are already hear ,nearly everybody has a gas supply,HONDA has a home hydrogen generater ,pumped hydrogen into exsi ting gas supply on a small scale is no great hardship,that takes care of storage.THE UK GOVERMENT is the key,fancy being able to fuel YOUR OWN CAR UP AT HOME . CUT TO THE QUICK FUEL CELL CARS are the only answer ,.hydrogen electric hybrid.

  7. Mercedes S Class Rental

    CNG seems to be the fuel which is being used widely, specially in Asian countries this fuel is used more than any other fuel. the cost factor is the main reason behind this, all you need to do is install the kit and you are good to go, however cleaner than the traditional fuels, it is as you have mentioned still not a 0 % emission fuel and this fuel is also bound to run out sooner or later. Hydrogen will still take time to be accepted by the masses and the initial cost is what maybe a setback for many despite the fact the cost will be covered eventually down the line. I am really hoping that Hydrogen Refueling Transition takes place on a large scale so more people can benefit from out.


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