Conversion Basics for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicles

Conversion Basics for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicles

Interest in compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled vehicles has grown substantially in recent years as fleet managers and the American driving public seek a lower cost alternative to petroleum based products such as gasoline and diesel.

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is natural gas stored at a high pressure. Natural gas primarily consists of methane and is made by simply compressing natural gas.

Natural gas has been safely used in our homes for heating and cooking but it can also be used in place of, or in conjunction with, gas and diesel fuel. Natural gas has an octane rating of about 130, which means it has an efficiency advantage over gasoline. Natural gas is also the cleanest fossil fuel because the main byproducts of combustion are carbon dioxide and water vapor, the same compounds we exhale when we breathe.

Types of CNG Vehicles

Bi-Fuel Vehicles
Bi-Fuel vehicles have two separate fueling systems that enable them to run on either natural gas or gasoline.

Dedicated Vehicles
Dedicated vehicles are designed to run only on natural gas.

Dual-Fuel Vehicles
Dual-Fuel vehicles have fuel systems that run on a blend of natural gas and diesel fuel.

How do Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicles Work?

How do Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicles Work?

CNG converted vehicles use internal combustion engines similar to those than run on gasoline or diesel. There are seven basic components to convert a gasoline or diesel engine to one that also runs on natural gas.

  1. CNG storage tank
  2. Fill receptacle
  3. Fuel filters
  4. Pressure regulator
  5. CNG fuel feed system
  6. Dash mounted fuel selector
    switch and gauge
  7. Electronic control module

A CNG fuel system introduces high-pressure natural gas from the storage tank to the engine while reducing the pressure of the gas to the operating pressure of the engine's fuel-management system.

Refueling your Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicle

Refueling your Vehicle

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is pumped into vehicles similar to the way gasoline and diesel products are used to refuel.

Hundreds of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations are available across the United States. New stations are opening daily. For the most comprehensive, up-to-date list, please visit the interactive Alternative Fueling Station Locater.

How Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fuel is Measured

In 1994, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defined a gasoline gallon equivalent as 5.66 pounds of natural gas. A gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) is the amount of alternative fuel it takes to equal the energy content of one gallon of gasoline. Since CNG is a gas rather than a liquid, this allowed consumers to compare the cost of gasoline with other fuels such as compressed natural gas.


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