Frequently Asked Questions


A natural gas vehicle (NGV) is remarkably similar to a “conventional” gasoline or diesel vehicle. Internal combustion engines normally burn mixtures of gasoline or diesel and air, but can easily be modified to run on a mixture of natural gas and air.

Natural gas primarily consists of methane (around 90%), with small amounts of ethane, propane and other gases. Methane is a simple gas molecule made up of one atom of carbon and four of hydrogen (CH4). It is lighter than air and burns almost completely, with by-products of combustion being carbon dioxide and water.

Why use natural gas as a fuel?
How do natural gas vehicles work?
What sort of vehicles use natural gas?
How do you fuel a natural gas vehicle?
Are natural gas vehicles safe?
Where do I fuel up an NGV?
Aren’t hydrogen fuel cell vehicles going to solve all the problems with today’s vehicles?
Where do I find an NGV?

Why use natural gas as a fuel?

  1. Engine urban and greenhouse gas emissions are inherently lower than from gasoline or diesel engines.
  2. Natural Gas decreases our reliance on foreign fuel sources (97% of the natural gas used in the US comes from North America)
  3. Natural Gas costs less per energy unit than gasoline or diesel

How do natural gas vehicles work?
A reciprocating internal combustion engine (like those in almost all today’s cars and trucks) can burn natural gas in place of gasoline or diesel. The mixture is normally ignited by a spark plug.

Natural gas is normally a gas, not a liquid. It is stored by being compressed to 3600 psi or liquefied at –260º F. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fuel containers weigh more and take up more space than gasoline or diesel containers.

What kinds of vehicles use natural gas?
Any sort of vehicle can use natural gas as a fuel. Vehicles can use only natural gas (dedicated) or run on either gasoline or natural gas (bi-fuel). There are about 120,000 natural gas vehicles in the US and about 10 million worldwide. About 20% of new transit buses are fueled by clean-burning natural gas. Taxicabs, garbage trucks, and school buses are often fueled with natural gas.

How do you fuel a natural gas vehicle?
Pretty much like you fuel a car or truck. The fueling station and dispenser looks about the same as a “normal” station. The nozzle and receptacle are a bit different but an NGV is just as easy to fuel and fuels up in about the same amount of time.

Are natural gas vehicles safe?
Absolutely! Compressed natural gas is stored on board vehicles in tanks that meet the most stringent safety standards in the world. Some of the tests that these tanks must pass are the drop test, the bonfire test and gunshot test.

Where do I fuel up an NGV?
There are about 1100 natural gas fueling facilities in the US, but that doesn’t mean natural gas is available on every corner. Click here for DOE’s Fueling station locator.  Make sure you call ahead to be sure a station is open to the public. You can also put a home refueling device in your garage and refuel at home. Click here for more information.

Aren’t hydrogen fuel cell vehicles going to solve all the problems with today’s vehicles?
Perhaps, but it will be 20 or 30 years, at least, before those vehicles are widely available. And there are lots of problems to be solved if hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are ever to become commercial. Natural gas vehicles operate on a fuel similar to hydrogen, so many have viewed NGVs as the “pathway to hydrogen.”

Where do I find an NGV?
Honda sells new light-duty NGVs in the US. Heavy-duty buses are available from New Flyer, Orion, NABI and others and heavy trucks are built by Mack and others. OR you can get an “up-fitted” new or used vehicle from a number of converters meeting all government safety and emissions requirements.