LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Tippecanoe County’s first compressed natural gas station opened to drivers this fall and more could be on the way.
While experts told News 18 that more CNG stations are popping up , one economist said it could be a long road ahead before the auto industry switches gears and makes all vehicles CNG compatible.
“Compressed natural gas is a fuel that is up and coming,” explained Kris Kyler, operations manager for CNG Fuel Inc. “We’ve had stations open since 2006, but the technology hasn’t taken off until the past couple of years.”
Kyler said the trucking industry is what’s fueling the development of these stations, because natural gas is cheaper and burns cleaner than diesel.
However, Kyler said these CNG stations are open to the public and anyone who has a CNG vehicle can use them.
“My pickup actually runs on natural gas,” Kyler explained. “My truck is a bi-fuel truck. It actually has gasoline and the fitting for the natural gas pump.”
Kyler said once the natural gas supply runs out, the engine automatically switches over to gasoline.
“Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Honda, they all offer vehicles that can run on natural gas,” Kyler said.
While Kyler said several car manufacturers do offer some vehicles with CNG compatible engines, Purdue ag-economist Wally Tyner said it’s more common and economical to see fleets run on natural gas.
Tyner said because the lack of CNG infrastructure, there aren’t as many personal vehicles that run on natural gas. He said it could be a while before you see that begin to happen.
“All the buses, taxis or garbage trucks in that fleet fuel in one place and you only have to have one fueling station,” Tyner explained. “You only have to spend that two million dollars, or however much it costs, once, and it covers all of the vehicles in that fleet.”
Kyler said natural gas is measured in a GGE, which is a gasoline gallon equivalent.
“So we’ve got the same amount of energy in our price as you would in a gasoline gallon,” Kyler explained.
You can find a CNG station off of State Road 38 in Dayton.
Kyler said several other stations could be coming to Tippecanoe County this year.
He said there is also one station in Frankfort.
However, Kyler said you can’t easily convert your car to be CNG compatible.
You must buy it already with a CNG engine, which typically costs several thousand dollars more, depending on the make and model.