PeRsPec Tive and insigHT
On emeRging mOTOR FUels
Are We Headed?
leo thoMASon is the co- founder
and president of
the Las Vegas-based National
Institute (NGVI). Since 1989, NGVI
has provided natural-gas education,
training, consulting and technical
assistance to fleet managers and
technicians, vehicle manufacturers,
fuel retailers, and other stakeholders.
In August, the PEI Journal’s editors
asked Thomason what he thinks is
ahead for compressed natural gas
as you look at Cng as a vehicle fuel,
where are we, and where are we going?
THOMASON: We’ve been sort
of dabbling with natural gas as a
vehicle fuel since the early 1970s.
But the early technology was based
on carbureted engines. The advent of
fuel-injection for gasoline engines in
the mid-90s was a big improvement.
A CNG fueling station in Salt Lake City, Utah.
With fuel injection, you just flip a switch
to go from one fuel to the other.
The Clean Air Act amendments of
1990 and the 1992 Energy Policy Act
also helped CNG. By 1992, governments
and fleets were ordered to start using
alternative fuels, including natural gas.
By 1996, GM, Chrysler and Ford were
all making natural gas-powered vehicles
on selected models.
But Chrysler and Ford stopped
producing any natural gas vehicles in
2004, and GM followed in 2006. The
reason was the lack of a public fueling
infrastructure. People just weren’t
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