Drivers switch to compressed natural gas

Wise Gas builds 8 CNG stations in Florida, plans 2 more

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - The soaring price of gasoline has forced South Floridians to consider alternative fuels.

Some drivers have cars that run on compressed natural gas, or CNG, a fuel that is becoming more popular in the United States.

"There are 8 million natural gas vehicles globally but in the United States, there is less than 300 thousand," said Jeff Greene, the owner of Wise Gas.

Wise Gas has built eight CNG stations in Florida and has plans to build two more -- one in Miami and another in Orlando.

Greene's car can run on both CNG and regular gasoline, so he won't be stranded if he can't find a CNG station.

"The cost to convert a light duty vehicle ranges anywhere from about $5,000 to $6,000. We have financing now that can get that price down to a couple hundred dollars a month," said Greene. "You have got to be using somewhere between 10 to 15 gallons a day to really justify a conversion."

But Greene thinks that cost will come down and more stations will be built.

Compressed natural gas conversion may look dangerous, but it is actually safer than a regular gasoline tank. It has 3/4 inch thick steel and an emergency release valve that allows the gas to escape into the atmosphere harmlessly. The natural gas also has a higher flash point than gasoline. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a gas can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in the air.

At a cost of $2.19 a gallon, CNG makes sense, especially for fleet vehicles that drive locally. Companies like AT&T and Waste Management have made commitments to CNG.

"Price, price, price, price! Of course, it is cleaner when you burn it, but some places you can get it for 81 cents per gallon," said Bernardo Melecio with Bennett Truck Transport.

CNG is also about 30 to 35 percent cleaner than gas or diesel and North America is sitting on a big stockpile.

"We have got somewhere between 100 to 150 year supply of natural gas," said Greene.

Click here to find a CNG station near you.

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