These days, our society is exploring many fuel alternatives including ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas. The most common form of natural gas is compressed natural gas (or CNG), which is just natural gas that has been under high levels of pressure. It rivals gasoline and is commonly used in heaters, generators, air conditioners, and some vehicles. Here are some differences between the two:
Composition & Environmental Effects
While natural gas is composed of mainly methane (which is made from a majority of hydrogen), gasoline is composed of carbon compounds. Both come from inside the earth, but methane is found in natural reserves while carbon compounds come from crude oil. Because natural gas is made of mainly hydrogen, it produces fewer harmful emissions (such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) than gasoline.
One of the big differences between natural gas and gasoline is their price. Because oil is a global market, it’s bound to see price changes on a regular basis. Since oil is shipped to countries around the world, any change in supply or demand can affect its price.
Natural gas, on the other hand, isn’t a global market. Instead of being shipped by tankers, most natural gas is pumped through underground pipelines, which keeps the supply limited to the span of the pipeline. Because of this difference, gasoline often costs more than natural gas.
When comparing compressed natural gas to gasoline, we have to compare cubic feet to gallons (since compressed natural gas isn’t a liquid). Therefore, it would take 126.67 cubic feet of natural gas to be as efficient as one gallon of gasoline. While this means that one gallon of gasoline is more efficient than one gallon of natural gas, the role of the price plays a part: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average price of gasoline in April was $3.65 a gallon, while the average price of natural gas was $2.15 GGE (gasoline-gallon equivalent). This means you can get more bang for your buck when it comes to natural gas.
While natural gas seems to have the upper hand in price and supply, it may actually be a good idea if companies converted natural gas into gasoline. This way, we could preserve our fossil fuels, yet still fuel millions of gas-powered vehicles. Such a process used to be very energy-consuming, but these days, companies are figuring out ways to make it less demanding.