Natural gas vehicle

Figure 1. Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle.[1]

Natural gas vehicles or NGVs are an alternative fuel vehicle that use natural gas as fuel rather than the typical gasoline or diesel. Other alternative vehicles include fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles.

NGVs were first manufactured in United States during the 1930s. They were used during World War II in Europe and interest for these vehicles rose during the early 1950s.[2] Today natural gas refueling stations are located in five provinces across Canada and are usually found in near proximity of existing retail gasoline station.[3]

When comparing natural gas versus other fuels, NGVs usually have:[4]

  • Lower cost than gasoline and diesel
  • High performance similar to diesel or gasoline powered vehicles
  • Secure and long lasting fuel supply

Please see GHGs for AFVs to see how greenhouse gas emissions compare, and comparing gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and electricity prices.

Natural gas vehicle technologies

These lower emission vehicles are available in many types (highway tractors, transit/school buses, off-road, light). Canadian companies offer three types of engine technologies for natural gas vehicles:[3]

Technology Description Type of Vehicle
Spark Ignited Natural Gas Engine Engine in which combustion occurs when
air-fuel mixture is ignited by spark
Medium/Heavy Duty Highway Tractor,
Bus, Truck
Compression Cycle Engine for
Natural Gas with Diesel Pilot ignition
Injection of small amount diesel into engine to trigger combustion
by natural gas to achieve higher efficiency
Heavy Duty Highway Tractor
Fuel Injection Conversion Kit Kits used to retrofit a regular gasoline engine so that
the vehicle can also operate using natural gas
Light Duty Vehicle

NGVs are available from North American manufacturers such as General Motors (GM) and Ford, and conversion kits are available for existing conventional cars. GM offers full-sized compressed natural gas (CNG) fuelled vans for fleet customers. Ford offers many CNG ready chassis body for aftermarket conversion. Conversion kits are commercially available from Canadian companies ( has no opinion on these companies).[3]

Natural gas fuels

There are three types of natural gas fuels including compressed, liquefied, and adsorbed natural gas.

  1. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is stored under high pressure of 3,000 psig to 3,600 psig and historically, being the most attractive natural gas fuel. The high-pressure pose safety concerns in design of these vehicles.[3]
  2. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is usually stored at -160°C and is best suited for heavy-duty vehicles and natural gas transportation overseas.[3]
  3. Adsorbed natural gas is stored at a lower pressure of 500 psig to 600 psig in which natural gas is adsorbed by a porous adsorbent. However, there are some technical challenges, which includes the adsorbent (activated carbon) development or deliverability capacity of the gas from the adsorbent.[5]


  1. Wikimedia Commons [Online], Available:
  2. Random History. (Accessed August 31, 2015). Natural Gas & Transportation The History of Natural Gas Vehicles [Online], Available:
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance. (Accessed August 31, 2015). Vehicles & Stations [Online]. Available:
  4. Southern California Gas Company. (Accessed August 31, 2015). Comparing natural gas vs. other fuels [Online], Available:
  5. R.W Judd. (Accessed August 31, 2015). The Use of Adsorbed Natural Gas Technology for Large Scale Storage [Online], Available:

Authors and Editors

aliaa bodn, Jordan Hanania, James Jenden, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev