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CNG - Natural Gas as a Fuel

Overtake with natural gas

Natural gas: low emission, highly available, and apart from that considerably more cost effective than traditional fuels. This makes compressed natural gas (CNG) a true alternative. CNG is, however, not a new invention; even the first spark-ignited engine was operated with gas. In Austria in the 1950s and 1960s, utility vehicles were predominantly powered by natural gas. There has been a continuous tendency towards using natural gas as a fuel since the beginning of the 1990s. Today more than 10 million vehicles are powered by natural gas worldwide.

In order to drive this development onward, OMV is consistently working on expanding the filling station network. There are now around 170 public natural gas filling stations, because of this crossing Austria in a natural gas vehicle (NGV) does not pose a problem. Production of natural gas vehicles has long reached maturity and vehicle manufacturers offer models in various price ranges. All of this means that nothing stands in the way of switching to natural gas powered vehicles.

The Austrian government and the individual provinces also wish to promote natural gas as fuel. Therefore since July 2008 the "Nova-new" is supporting vehicles with minor Co2 emission. Additional promotions are available in some provinces. Measures for the further development of natural gas filling stations are planned into government policy.

A clean alternative

Using natural gas as a fuel represents more than just saving money, through the reduction of harmful emissions natural gas also saves society long term costs and helps to fulfill the international climate protection agreement. This has also been recognized by politicians. In contrast with diesel or gasoline, compressed natural gas combustion is free of soot and particulates. Therefore, harmful emissions are reduced to a minimum. 20 - 30 % lower carbon dioxide, 70 -80 % lower carbon monoxide and 90% lower ozone forming emissions enable CNG to excel in comparison to gasoline.

The advantages at a glance …

Advantages of CNG over diesel * Advantages of CNG over gasoline *

non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) up to 98 % lower

non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) up to 70 % lower

nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to 90 % lower

nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to 85 % lower

ozone forming potential up to 80 % lower

ozone forming potential up to 90 % lower

particulate emissions 98 % lower

carbon dioxide (CO2) up to 30 % lower

no evaporation loss or obnoxious odors while filling

aldehyde up to 80 % lower

*Potential with optimized natural gas engines

Natural gas is a viable option

A natural gas vehicle does not have to be expensive. Today, purchase of many models is just as favorable as a comparable diesel vehicle or even more favorable due to Promotions. If you cover high mileage, a natural gas vehicle definitely represents value for money. In as little as one to two years the higher initial outlay is financed through both better fuel economy and the lower price of natural gas. At the pump you only pay around half the price; at OMV filling stations one kilo of natural gas is at least EUR 0.10 cheaper than gasoline. With this kilo, however, you can travel the same distance as with about 1.5 liters of gasoline. Therefore, if converted, in the case of gasoline up to 50 % costs can be saved and with diesel, a third.

Natural gas takes you further

Thanks to fully developed technology, engines optimized for natural gas can achieve a boost in performance of 5 - 10 % and have lower consumption than a comparable gasoline or diesel vehicle. A natural gas vehicle can travel 500 to 1000 km (for example Fiat Punto, EVO Natural Power, VW Passat Ecofuel) with one visit to the filling station - natural gas tank and conventional gasoline tank added together. Monovalent vehicles can travel up to approximately 500 km with a full tank. Hence, your driving is not only environmentally friendly; you also cover many kilometers absolutely carefree.

Fill up by the kilo, drive safely

Filling stations offer natural gas in kilograms as CNG (compressed natural gas). 0.7 kg is the equivalent of about 1 l of gasoline.

Safety takes priority over all else; the special tanks built into vehicles are constructed according to the strictest of safety guidelines and tested under extreme conditions. They store the gas at a pressure of approximately 200 bar, consequently, the volume is reduced to around 1/200. Additional safety is ensured by regular inspections as well as a row of auxiliary components such as valves, which prevent excessive pressure in the event of a fire.

Fueling CNG vehicles is also completely safe. Gas flows into the tank at the moment that the pump connection is correctly secured to the tank of the CNG vehicle. This process is just as quick and uncomplicated as with diesel or gasoline.

In fact, after a professional conversion, a natural gas vehicle is just as safe as any other vehicle. This also applies in the event of a collision. A bursting pressure of 600 bar is stipulated for the gas tank; this is far greater than the affect excessive heat or a collision would have. If a heavy crash does occur, the safety valves open and the gas dispersed. Tests carried out by Austrian and German motoring organizations (ÖAMTC and ADAC) confirm that the danger of an explosion is under no account higher than with conventional vehicles.

In its brochure, the Technical Inspection Agency of Bavaria awarded natural gas vehicles the following seal of approval: "As safe as a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle".

Natural gas in the tank

CNG is currently available in Austria at around 170 public filling stations. This means that driving through Austria powered by natural gas represents no problem at all. Additionally, the fleets of around 40 commercial filling stations are also powered with the alternative fuel.

Previously, relatively poor filling station network coverage was the main reason for deciding against a natural gas vehicle. The European Union has set the target of at least 20 % of fuel consumption not being oil based by 2020. Half of these alternatives, i.e. 10 % of all fuel, are to be CNG. These EU targets provide the basis for the intensive filling station expansion plans of the gas industry. Accordingly, by 2010 there should be approx. 200 natural gas filling stations in Austria; almost half of these being from OMV.

OMV will continue to promote this environmentally friendly fuel in the future so that soon you too can also have a natural gas filling station close by. Incidentally, you can also find your way to your closest OMV natural gas filling station when you're on the move with your WAP capable mobile under (please note: mark "natural gas filling station" at the search field near the menu item "Services").

Visiting the neighbors with natural gas

Austria's immediate neighbors Germany, Italy and Switzerland are also actively expanding their natural gas filling station network. The Italians (with around 500.000 natural gas vehicles) are currently working on further extending their approximately 680 natural gas filling stations and the Swiss are making every effort to make their network denser.There are already around 850 in Germany and natural gas as a fuel is being intensively fiscally promoted.

First class quality: OMV accelerates

OMV only offers H-Gas quality in Austria. H stands for high, therefore, high quality gas. The calorific value makes the difference; it is higher in H-Gas than in L(low)-Gas. For comparison: H-Gas has a calorific value of approx. 11.1 kWh/m³, L-Gas of approx. 9.5 kWh/m³.

There's gas and then there's gas

In respect of gas as a fuel there are large differences, i.e. the 500 busses of the Viennese transport services are powered by OMV liquid gas, also known as propane and butane. Liquid gas is created during the distillation process of crude oil in the refinery. In contrast with natural gas, it is heavier than air, evaporates more slowly, and is more flammable. Standard liquid gas vehicles must under no account be operated with natural gas. By the way, the natural gas sold in OMV filling stations is predominantly from domestic sources.

Change and make long term savings

In principle, every spark-ignited engine can be operated with natural gas, therefore, most vehicles from European and Japanese manufacturers can be converted. Furthermore, the automobile industry already offers a row of mass produced NGVs (Natural Gas Vehicles), which are either monovalent (only with natural gas) or bivalent (with natural gas and gasoline).  These are fitted with under-floor natural gas tanks; therefore, no loss in space is incurred. The marginal additional costs are quickly compensated through lower fuel prices and above all improved fuel economy.

Next generation's Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV's)

Due to a rising number of NGV-drivers the automobile industry is exerted to bring out new and better NGV's (Natural Gas Vehicles).
As a special highlight for 2009 VW presented the new Passat TSI EcoFuel. An optimised engine with Twin charger Technology (Turbocharger and Compressor) pushes the 147 hp strong vehicle to optimal driving fun, low consumption (4,5 kg/100 km) as well as fewer emissions (119 – 123 CO2g/km). The VW Passat TSI EcoFuel is now available at your VW Dealer.

In December 2008 Opel presented an innovation on the automobile market. With the new Opel Zafira 1.6 Ecoflex CNG Turbo they created the first Natural Gas-Van with turbo engine. Compared to the previous model the new Zafira is characterized with 60 % more power and nearly the same level of emissions. The 147 hp strong engine consumes 5,3 kg per 100 km and helps saving money at the filling station.

The Fiat Punto EVO Natural Power is available since August 2009. With a consumption of 4, 2 kg per 100 km the car is one of the most ecologically friendly alternative in comparison to regular vehicles of the „Compact Class“. The price of this vehicle is positioned between the diesel- and the gasoline model. Thus it is ensured to drive in an economically friendly manner from the first kilometre. – Furthermore Different subsidies help to support the attractiveness of these ecologically friendly vehicles.

Park with fresh air

Fundamentally, you can park your natural gas vehicle anywhere that a conventional vehicle can park - parking in underground parking lots is permitted in most federal states. If you are planning to build a garage at home, it is important to ensure sufficient ventilation. The applicable regulations can be found in the building regulations of each federal state. Further information can be gained from the relevant federal state government.

Vehicle documents and technical inspections

When operating a natural gas vehicle in Austria, a so-called service book must be carried. This is a document that must contain the following:

  • Functional specifications and technical data
  • Operating and maintenance instructions and requirements
  • Explanation on using these operating instructions
  • Information on recurring technical inspections
  • Instructions concerning the response in the event of a gas odor
  • Information on lines of authority for repairs and structural changes
  • Regulations concerning the procedure when taking the vehicle out of operation

This service book must be supplied by the vehicle manufacturer or from the company that installed the CNG tank.

The inspection of a NGV’s, according to § 57a, is very similar to conventional vehicles. The so-called "leakage test“ of the gas tanks is not necessary anymore since this is automatically checked directly at the CNG filling station.

Independently from §57a, after 36 months, a visual examination of the gas tanks is necessary. If any problems arise, the examiner has to remove the tanks and check them in detail.
For NGV’s the „ten year inspection“is not necessary anymore, but is still valid for liquid gas vehicles.

Underground Parking Lots

The ban on "gas vehicles" from public underground parking lots is directed at liquid gas vehicles, because liquid gas is heavier than air. Therefore, natural gas vehicles are principally permitted to park in underground parking lots, however (unfortunately also in Austria), there are regional laws that are formulated differently. Under private law, signposting at a garage entrance must be adhered to and each garage owner can declare a ban for his area. Consequently, before purchasing a natural gas vehicle it is recommendable to clarify this question with the building and/or garage owner and to draw his attention to the basic authorization.

Selfe Service at the Pump

According to the VBV (container regulations), self filling of natural gas vehicles is fundamentally permitted in Austria. However, please adhere to signposting at the filling station!