Dedicated to the balanced discussion of global warming
GMNext – December 18, 2007
Regardless of your stance on global warming, I am sure that we can all agree that using our resources appropriately is very important. GM Chevrolet has introduced a vehicle to the Thailand market that will use natural gas as a fuel and this seems to be exactly what is needed in today’s evolving marketplace.
Obviously, one of the problems that needs to be solved is a distribution model for the fuel. One of the benefits to our current fuel sources is that there are only 3-5 major fuels (several octane levels and diesel) and they are all handled in approximately the same way from a transportation and storage viewpoint. Adding another fuel that is shipped and stored with entirely different technology would complicate supply chain issues.
Now, if they would just release it in the US!
As GM works to develop solutions for the world’s automotive energy requirements, it has become clear that there is no one single fuel solution that is best for every country or part of the world. In Thailand and ASEAN, we see great opportunities right now for vehicles powered by natural gas.
For the automotive industry, natural gas as a fuel offers several advantages over gasoline:
- CNG is one of the cleanest-burning alternative fuels. CNG-powered vehicles emit 85 percent less NOx, 70 percent less reactive hydrocarbons, and 74 percent less carbon monoxide than similar gasoline-powered vehicles.
- CNG has a much higher octane rating than gasoline, allowing for higher compression ratios and therefore greater efficiency.
CNG is safer to use than gasoline. If a leak occurs, it will dissipate rapidly into the atmosphere. Therefore, CNG poses no direct threat to land or water contamination.
- CNG is cheaper than other fuels on the market. At present, CNG costs about 8.50 baht (USD $0.27) per kilogram in Thailand.
- In addition, engine maintenance cost can be reduced by extending time between oil changes because the particulate materials that are produced during the combustion cycle and cause the engine oil to get dirty are not present in CNG engines.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that will solve all of our energy and environmental problems in every country overnight. However, we can make a difference by leveraging different technologies and different resources at the same time.
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