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CNG Safety Facts


CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas, has the unfortunate tendency to still inspire fear in those who are not familiar with it.  The simple truth is that CNG is a safer fuel that either gasoline or diesel.  To understand and adopt this truth, it simply requires letting go of the belief that gasoline is the "only" fuel just because it's what has always been utilized.

The physical properties of natural gas demonstrate that it has a limited range of flammability.  This means that it requires a specific mixture of air and gas to burn.  The range is in the 5 to 15% range and it requires an ignition temperature of approximately 1100 degrees F.  Both gasoline and diesel fuel have lower concentrations of flammability and lower temperatures of ignition.  It is far more likely that gasoline or diesel will ignite than natural gas.

In addition to the range and temperature requirements, natural gas is lighter than air.  In the event that a leak were to occur, the gas would rise and disperse through the atmosphere, leaving very little change of ignition.  Gasoline and diesel are both dense liquid fuels which pool during a leak and are easily ignitable.

Many people consider the tragedies of natural gas explosions in homes and apply that fear to NGV vehicles.  What must be taken into account is the difference in circumstances.  A natural gas leak in a home is directly connected to a natural gas pipeline underground, delivering a far greater concentration of gas and if the windows and doors are closed, there is nowhere for the gas to disperse to.  While it is horribly unfortunate that accidents of this nature have occurred, these have no bearing on natural gas as a vehicle fuel.

Imagine if people's homes ran on gasoline power?  Would that seem more dangerous? 

Natural gas is odorless by nature, so a distinctive strong sulfur smell is added to it to make the presence of a leak easy to detect.  Natural Gas will replace oxygen in the atmosphere.  A concentration of more than 25% would mean insufficient oxygen for human respiration.  Because of the odor additive, it would be easily apparent to detect a leak before this became a serious problem.

Natural gas is non-toxic and non-corrosive, adding to it's safe and clean properties.  The most visible difference most NGV drivers report is the color of their vehicle's oil.  Long after the gasoline or diesel powered engine has met it's 3,000 mile mark for an oil change, the motor oil in an NGV will still appear clear and golden.  Reduced maintenance of CNG-powered engines is yet another environmental and economical advantage.

Be sure to view the CNG Cylinder Safety page for amazing photographs...