Learn About Natural Gas

Vehicles can be fuelled by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas or biomethane.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is natural gas that has been compressed into a high-pressure container for transportation or storage. CNG has become a vehicle fuel alternative to oil-based gasoline and diesel fuel since the 1960s.  

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas that is liquefied by cooling to -160 °C (-260 °F) at atmospheric pressure. At that temperature, LNG occupies 1/600th the volume of natural gas at atmospheric temperature and pressure. The high energy density of LNG makes it useful for energy storage. LNG is stored in double-walled, vacuum-insulated tanks. 

Biomethane is a clean, renewable energy created from organic waste materials. Biogas is generated when bacteria degrade biological material in the absence of oxygen and create methane. Biogas is captured from landfills or from the digestion of green waste. This can then be processed into biomethane that can be used to fuel vehicles. 

Facts about natural gas

  • Formed millions of years ago
    Natural gas was formed from the buried remains of tiny plants and sea animals that died more than 200 million years ago. Under the pressure and heat of built-up sand and silt—sometimes thousands of feet thick—these energy-rich materials slowly decayed, then changed form until all that was left were concentrations of natural gas in layers of rock.
  • How it’s extracted
    Natural gas is removed from the earth by drilling wells into the rock, then using pipes to bring the gas to the surface. In most wells, the pressure of the natural gas is enough to force it to the surface and into the gathering lines that run to central collection points.
  • Clean-burning fuel
    Natural gas has a simple chemical make-up: one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen (CH4). That's what makes it burn so cleanly. Oil and coal, the other fossil fuels, are more chemically complex. They contain higher proportions of carbon, sulphur and nitrogen.
  • Abundant supply to meet growing demand
    Natural gas currently supplies one-fourth of the energy needed to efficiently run the world's homes, businesses, vehicles, industries and power plants. Over the next 20 years, consumption of natural gas is expected to grow by 50 percent.

Natural gas engines offer three distinct benefits:

  • Environmental Leadership:   The Cummins Westport ISL G was the first heavy duty engine in North America certified to 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emissions Standards.  The ISL G and ISX12 G engines meet current EPA and California Air Resource Board (ARB) emissions standards, and 2014 EPA greenhouse gas and US Department of Transportation fuel-economy regulations.
  • Economics:  Natural gas offers improved reliability, fuel economy and lower fuel costs
  • Energy Security:  As an abundant, domestic natural resource, natural gas reduces dependency on imported oil. Cummins Westport engines are capable of operating on up to 100% biomethane produced from landfills or anaerobic digestion.

A safer fuel

  • Lighter than air
  • Rises and doesn't accumulate in low places
  • Rich mixture burns off slowly
  • Ignites at temperatures of approx. 600 °C / 1112 °F
  • Non-toxic and odorless: a detection fragrance is added
  • Evaporates quickly