In some cases, a company operating a fleet of heavy vehicles running on natural gas can expect to save as much as 50 % on fuel costs. Trucks and buses fueled by natural gas can be less costly to maintain. And with no end in sight to global oil price increases and possible world crises that threaten supply, the economic advantages of natural gas are compelling.
The fact is that natural gas is much greener than diesel and is far and away the cleanest of all fossil fuels with significantly fewer emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and mercury. For fleets operating in big cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, that means major reductions in smog and other pollutants that threaten air quality and contribute to acid rain and global warming.
Natural gas is in plentiful supply in the United States. In fact, our countrys supply of natural gas has as much energy potential as Saudi Arabias entire supply of oil. With over $450 billion spent last year on imported oil, that means the more we depend on natural gas, the less dependent we are on foreign oil and the more jobs we create here in America.
With over 300,000 miles of transmission pipelines, 1.9 million miles of distribution pipes, hundreds of storage facilities and more than 50 points for exporting and importing, the distribution system for natural gas in the United States is second to none. There are more than 1,100 NGV fueling stations, over half of which are open to the public, with more coming on line every day.
Currently, there are 14 million natural gas vehicles in the world ,and 110,000 on roads right here in the United States. According to the International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, there will be over 65 million natural gas vehicles operating throughout the world within the next 10 years. Thats 9% of the worlds total transportation fleet. The fact is, no other alternative fuel has the ability to replace 100% of the petroleum used in heavy-duty vehicles. Many municipalities in the United States, including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., use natural gas vehicles and buses already.
Natural gas has physical properties that make it safer than gasoline or diesel. Its range of flammability is extremely limited. Natural gas ignites at 1,100 degrees F, a much higher ignition temperature than diesel or gasoline, and only ignites if the mix of fuel and air is within a tight range. Consider, too, that natural gas is lighter than air. In the event of a leak, the gas rises and dissipates quickly. Plus with the addition of sulfur, the odor is easy to detect. And natural gas is non-toxic.