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With the cost of fuel increasing to record levels in South Africa, natural gas is fast becoming the most economic transport fuel alternative. As of 26 September 2018, it is R7.10c less per litre than 95 octane petrol in Johannesburg.

CNGHoldings NGV

Stephen Rothman, Chief Executive Officer of NGV Gas, a division of CNG Holdings, says that natural gas is the cleanest burning alternative transportation fuel available today, and offers an opportunity to meet the soon to be established carbon emission restraints of the Carbon Tax Bill. In addition, natural gas is very safe, because it is lighter than air. In the event of an accident it simply dissipates into the air, instead of forming a dangerously flammable pool on the ground like other liquid fuels. This also contributes to the prevention of ground pollution, he says.

“In recent years, technology has improved significantly to allow for an increase in natural gas vehicles, particularly for fuel-intensive vehicle fleets, such as public transport and commercial vehicles. It is much cleaner than petrol and diesel, with up to 27% less CO2, NOX, HC and PM emitted compared to other fossil fuels. This is not just of environmental importance; the cleaner fuel significantly lowers vehicle maintenance and running costs, with less contamination and residue build up across engine components,” Rothman adds.

The chemical composition of natural gas allows CNG vehicles to burn much cleaner than traditionally fuelled vehicles. In addition to the far cheaper per-unit cost of natural gas, it is one of the safest transport fuels available.

Since CNG is a cleaner burning fuel, it leaves little or no residue compared to other fuels. Damage to the pipes and tubes of the vehicle’s engine is therefore greatly reduced. There is also less particulate matter that can contaminate the motor oil. This results in longer periods in between maintenance procedures such as tune-ups and oil changes. As a result, owners of CNG-powered vehicles enjoy bigger savings on maintenance costs.

Natural gas vehicles could serve as a better economic alternative for large fleets of vehicles that drive many miles a day, Rothman says. “Taxis, transit and school buses, airport shuttles, construction vehicles, garbage trucks, delivery vehicles, and public works vehicles can all be well suited to natural gas fuelling. Because these vehicles are centrally maintained and fuelled, it is economical and beneficial to convert to natural gas.”

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