U.S. Transportation Sector Report Acknowledges Importance of Natural Gas as Transportation Fuel

| USA

The largest study of alternative fuel options for on-road transportation in the United States has concluded that natural gas is a promising fuel from both an economic and technology perspective. Released August 1, the National Petroleum Council’s Report Advancing Technology for America’s Transportation Future is the result of two years of work examining the potential for a variety of fuels and technologies for both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.

“There are competing priorities in the pursuit of new fuel and vehicle technologies that are reliable, affordable and environmentally advanced and natural gas is well-positioned within the study,” said Karen Hamberg, Vice President of Sustainable Energy Futures at Westport.

Westport Innovations Inc. is the only Canadian-based company to be involved in this study. Westport representatives – Hamberg; Westport Senior Advisor and former President Michael Gallagher; and former Westport VP Graham Williams – were members of the natural gas sub-group, chaired by Gallagher and consisting of more than 60 industry representatives. Over 300 participants representing industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations contributed their knowledge and time to the analysis, economic modeling and development of findings.

In addition to natural gas, the study analyzed four other fuel pathways, including hydrocarbon liquids, biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen, as well as the fuel-vehicle systems that may develop over the next several decades.

Included in the report summary are the following natural gas insights (abbreviated):

  • Increased long-term low-cost supply can drive increased use of natural gas for transportation
  • There is opportunity for LD and HD natural gas vehicles to become attractive to both retail and fleet consumers
  • Few technological barriers exist
  • ICE enhancements can translate to NG engines
  • Build-out of infrastructure is critical

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu requested the Council to examine opportunities to accelerate alternative fuel prospects for passenger and freight transport through 2050. The Secretary also asked the Council to consider economically competitive ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. transportation sector.

“While infrastructure hurdles were identified as a barrier to the adoption of natural gas fueled vehicles, the study identifies solutions such as the enhancement of current infrastructure, the creation of natural gas corridors and vehicles that can run on more than one fuel,” said Gallagher.

The Advancing Technology for America’s Transportation Future Draft Report Summary is available by clicking here.

Editor’s note – Michael Gallagher will present a paper on the study at NGV Global 2012 this November in Mexico City.

(This article primarily compiled using information from a Westport Innovations Inc. press release)

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