Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Natural Gas Fuel Alternative For Trucks


Last week, I wrote about the unreasonable and unattainable 30 mpg light truck mandate by the EPA. Using the example of the 2010 GMC Sierra hybrid light truck that gets about 20.5 mpg overall, it is obvious that the 30 mpg standard cannot be met by existing technology unless a lot of very small vehicles are classified light trucks to offset the shortfall from the full-sized light trucks... the volume leaders in that segment.

I also wrote that if the EPA gave each non-petroleum fueled vehicle an arbitrary rating of 150 mpg that the standard might be met with a full push toward compressed natural gas powered vehicles (CNG). There is precedent within the existing regulations... also cited in my earlier post.

How could this be done? Here is a portion of a 2004 MSNBC article:

Boost for natural gas cars: Home fueling

Honda, partner will sell unit in 2005, starting with California
Joe Marquette / AP file
Unveiled in 2002, the natural gas fueling system known as Phill, seen here attached to a wall, converts low pressure gas into the high pressure used in natural gas cars.
updated 10:25 a.m. ET, Fri., Sept . 10, 2004

After a year-long delay, Honda and a partner have announced they will sell a $2,000 home fueling station for natural gas cars starting in the spring of 2005.

I had also suggested a $5,000 tax credit for purchasing a light truck powered by CNG. That would be used to offset the higher vehicle cost and the home fueling station.

The real push would have to be in the rapid deployment of CNG commercial fueling stations. This is what it looks like now:
Natural Gas Fueling Station Locations

To find sites that currently offer compressed natural gas (CNG), select a state on the map below. The database will generate a detailed list of stations verified to offer CNG. If you are interested in liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations, go to the Alternative Fueling Station Locator. This locator will also enable you to map CNG and LNG stations near a specific address or city location.

Unlike proposed battery changing stations that would require:
  1. a new production technology for vehicles that has not been thoroughly tested
  2. a whole new infrastructure of changing stations
the CNG station technology is tested and can be expanded and the vehicles technology is tested and can be expanded... and there is plenty of natural gas.

And, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi herself stated:
I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels,” she said at one point. Natural gas “is cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels,” she said at another.
The science is settled; the economics are settled; the way is clear; President Obama should lead the way for this change. All-electric or vastly improved hybrids may be a long term solution for meeting arbitrary EPA mandates, but they are not feasible for the arbitrarily short timeline established by the EPA.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)