x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Natural gas ready to hit roads

First phase of 20 filling stations in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain - and conversions of fleet vehicles and taxis will be on agenda for 2010.

Natural gas pumps like this one at an Adnoc station in Abu Dhabi will become more prevalent throughout the emirates in the next few years, officials say.
Natural gas pumps like this one at an Adnoc station in Abu Dhabi will become more prevalent throughout the emirates in the next few years, officials say.

ABU DHABI // The infrastructure to allow vehicles to run on natural gas will be installed by August in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, Adnoc Distribution announced yesterday. And the first phase of Adnoc's implementation plan will see 20 filling stations in the capital, Al Ain and Sharjah equipped with pumps to fill cars with natural gas by the end of 2010.

"Adnoc aims to install the pumps at roughly two stations per month," Clark Munro, the engineer in charge of Adnoc's natural gas distribution programme, said at the Gastech conference in Abu Dhabi. Adnoc also plans to build facilities for converting cars to run on natural gas at nine stations across the three cities. Fleet vehicles and taxis will be overhauled first. An estimated eight million cars worldwide already run on natural gas, experts say, and the fuel's benefits include reducing carbon monoxide emissions by up to 60 per cent and operating costs that can be 30 per cent below those of petrol engines.

Cars converted to run on natural gas still can use petrol, Mr Munro said. "You can convert the car from running on natural gas to petrol with a switch, even while driving, so you have a dual-fuel car with a much greater range than just a car with a petrol engine," he said. The cost of converting cars was uncertain, Mr Munro said. "At this stage the likely price changes daily." Mr Munro also said the fuel was less dangerous to use than petrol.

"It is much safer than a petrol tank or LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] cylinder in the event of an impact. The natural gas tank is made of steel that is 8mm thick, and it is bulletproof and fireproof." Mr Munro also pointed out that even if the cylinder broke, the gas would disperse quickly because it is lighter than air. Fire hazard was limited as well, he said. However, classic car enthusiasts will not be able to convert their vehicles to natural gas as a means of reducing emissions.

"To successfully convert a car to natural gas, a sequential, multipoint fuel-injected engine is required," he said. A pilot programme that converted 35 cars to natural gas in 2005 was rated highly successful. "We tested the technology and got feedback from drivers, and now we are beyond the pilot stage," Mr Munro said. The second stage of Adnoc's implementation programme will begin in late 2010, when natural gas conversion and fuel are offered to the general public, more filling stations and conversion centres are built and the infrastructure is extended into other emirates.

Abu Dhabi possesses approximately four per cent of the world's total reserves of natural gas, estimated at 5.8 billion cubic metres. glewis@thenational.ae