# Home Gas Pump

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by kmguru, Jul 11, 2002.

1. ### kmguruStaff Member

Messages:
11,757
Home Gas Pump: Smart or Fuelish?
By John Gartner
2:00 a.m. July 10, 2002 PDT

Filthy bathrooms. Bottled water for $2. Gas prices that seem to change quicker than traffic lights. What's not to love about a trip to the gas station? A new home appliance eliminates visits to the mini-mart by enabling people to gas up while relaxing in their recliners. Canadian company Fuelmaker hopes the convenience of home refueling, along with cheaper fuel and saving the ozone, will convince people to switch from gasoline- to natural-gas-powered vehicles. Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles are far from novelties -- there are more 110,000 on American roads, and frequent flyers have likely been in one without knowing it. The vast majority of CNG vehicles are taxis or shuttle vans used in corporate or government fleets. Many states mandate the use of the cleaner-burning CNG vehicles at airports to limit the amount of greenhouse emissions. But CNG vehicles aren't for drivers who spend hours a day behind the wheel. They have a maximum range of about 200 miles between refueling, and fleet owners have to pay between$6,000 and $25,000 for a refueling station. Individuals who own CNG vehicles must visit one of the 1,600 public or private natural gas stations in the United States. Refueling stations are primarily located along the coasts or near environmentally conscious areas like Salt Lake City or Denver. The limited availability of fueling stations has hindered consumer acceptance of CNG vehicles, said Therese Langer, transportation program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit that studies alternative-fuel vehicles. "It's a huge obstacle," said Langer, noting that people are accustomed to being able to drive just a few minutes to find a gas station. Fuelmaker's home refueling appliance (HRA) addresses the infrastructure problem by enabling people to use the gas that comes into their homes to also power their cars. Expected to be priced at$995 when it comes out in the United States in mid-2003, the HRA is compatible with most home gas lines (a minimum of 25 pounds per square inch [psi] pressure is required), according to Fuelmaker vice president of research and engineering Ralph Rackman. Versions for Canada and Europe are due out by the end of 2003.

The HRA pressurizes the gas to the 3,600 psi (or 3,000 psi in Canada) used by vehicles. The HRA draws power from a standard electric outlet, and is about the size of a file cabinet.

Refueling with the HRA takes about one hour per 10 miles driven, so drivers who use the car to commute a half-hour to work should be able to refuel in about the time it takes to have dinner and watch a ballgame.

Rackman said it didn't take long for him to remember to refuel daily with his fueling station. He compared the experience to that of electric car owners who quickly appreciate being able to forego the trip to the gas station. "Once they've had the opportunity to refuel at home, they really don't want to give (that) up."

Fuelmaker miniaturized the technology used in its fleet-size refueling stations and will begin beta testing in the fall. Software controls the flow of gas, senses any malfunction in the hose to prevent gas from leaking, and automatically shuts off when the tank is full.

In order to receive certification from the American Gas Association as a home appliance, Rackman said Fuelmaker had to idiot-proof the device to anticipate any user scenario. "You have to assume people will try and poke it with a stick."

CNG vehicles include light trucks, vans and sedans manufactured by several (PDF) of the big automakers including Chevy, Honda, Ford and Daimler Chrysler.

American Honda, a subsidiary of the Japanese automaker, has been producing the Civic GX, a CNG version of its popular sedan since 1998, owns 20 percent of Fuelmaker, and is assisting in the HRA's development.

Stephen Ellis, American Honda's manager of alternative-fuel vehicles, said that while consumers can buy the Civic GX, the company has not marketed it nationally because of the spotty availability of fueling stations.

Ellis said the HRA "will allow a consumer market for CNG vehicles to develop," and he expects a U.S. market of approximately 20,000 CNG vehicles in 2003.

According to Ellis, environmental concerns are the major reason people consider switching to CNG vehicles. The ACEEE estimates that CNG vehicles produce 30 to 40 percent less greenhouse gases than gasoline-powered cars, and the group ranked the Civic GX as the cleanest combustion engine car of 2001.

Natural gas is about 30 to 50 cents cheaper per gasoline gallon equivalent, according to Rick Kolodziej, president of the Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, a consortium representing 180 companies. Natural gas prices also fluctuate much less than gasoline prices, which always increase during summer months.

The energy bills recently passed by the House and Senate that are expected to be consolidated and forwarded to President Bush for signature include incentives for using natural gas vehicles, such as discounts for natural gas and a tax write-off that would cover half the cost of an HRA, Kolodziej said.

Kolodziej said drivers of CNG vehicles should feel good about using fuel produced domestically, and supply is not a concern because "even if 10 million cars ran on natural gas, that would only be an increase of 5 percent" of America's annual gas consumption.

Although the number of CNG vehicles on the road will likely be far smaller, the ACEEE's Langer said that "if (the Fuelmaker HRA) turns out to be a viable product, (the demand for CNG vehicles) could really change." But Langer cautioned that any change would take years to develop.

URL: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,53656,00.html

3. ### GiftedWorld WandererRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
2,113
You know, prices are going to lfuctuate when this gets going. Your probably going to at least double gas consumption, and in winter, when you're heating your home and gassing your car, the suppliers are going to have a field day.

5. ### kmguruStaff Member

Messages:
11,757
The solution to that is to make a law making the distribution lines as common feeders for all suppliers. Besides, the rural community.

I have always wondered, why we can not also use natural gas to run a small generator to power up the house too. This way, you can also have a power generator too.

My preference will be for an all electric car, but the battery is a problem. May be, the CNG is a stop gap measure until battery technology improves. Here is why.

There are many sources on can make electricity, at home or commercially and and be distributed by many suppliers as is done today. They are:

Hydro
Solar
Wind
Geothermal
Nuclear
Coal
Natural Gas
Ethanol
Hand Crank (not really!)

Energy conversion from electricity to HP is much more efficient (>90%). Motor technology can be improved so that they can get smaller using better conductors. Now, if we can learn to make electricity portable through sometypes of electron storage device.

While common people can not use nuclear generators, they can from all other sources. One of our forum members uses hydro powered generator from a running brook. Solar and wind are possible too. For large apartment complexes (townhouses, condos) - the co-op can use CNG, solar, wind etc to generate power....