Episode 139: Are natural gas vehicles a good idea?

Inês Azevedo, associate professor at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy and co-Director for the Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM) Center at Carnegie Mellon University, explains what factors we should consider when deciding whether to purchase a natural gas vehicle.

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Learn more

Natural Gas Vehicles from The Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center

Natural Gas from the Department of Energy’s FuelEconomy.gov  

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a Transportation Fuel from the California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center


Transcript

HOST: Have you ever wondered if natural gas vehicles are a good idea? On this week’s Energy Bite, Ines Azevedo, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

AZEVEDO: With the low price of natural gas, you may be thinking about switching your vehicle to one that burns natural gas. The economics of doing so will depend on your personal situation, such as how many miles you drive.

But will you be increasing or decreasing air pollution and greenhouse emissions if you buy a natural gas vehicle? The answer, according to our research, is – it depends!

HOST: Why is that?

AZEVEDO: For passenger cars and trucks, emissions would increase, as natural gas engines are less efficient than those that burn gasoline. Another concern is the leakage of natural gas, also known as methane, which is one of the gases that result in climate change.

There are other opportunities, though, to use natural gas for vehicles that are environmentally-friendly. If the natural gas is first used to generate electricity, and is then used in a battery-powered electric vehicle, emissions would decrease by about 40%.

HOST: Would you buy a natural gas vehicle, a battery-powered electric vehicle, or stick with gasoline? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

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