Safety is often brought up by fleets that are considering natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and with respect to locating NGV stations. Safety is of course of upmost importance. While natural gas is a safe fuel, it is natural to inquire about safety since NGVs are now becoming commonly known to people. Fortunately, natural gas has been used as a vehicle fuel for a long time and the safety track record is excellent.
Natural gas has many features that actually benefit safety. For example, natural gas is lighter than air. If there is a release of natural gas, it will simply rise and disperse in the air rather than pooling on the ground and remaining a fire hazard. Natural gas is also more difficult to burn than other fuels. Natural gas requires a very narrow range of air mixtures to support combustion and has a high flash point. The industry has learned much over the decades of running natural gas vehicles and this knowledge contributes to constantly raising the safety bar.
Cummins Westport (CWI) is one of the leading manufacturers of natural gas engines for trucks. They have more experience in the industry with their truck engines than anyone else. CWI just released an informational video on their website that many people will find useful. The video is part of an educational series being developed by CWI. The video does a good job of discussing safety considerations of CNG and LNG. You can view the video at this link: http://www.cumminswestport.com/natural-gas-academy-videos.
There is a twist of irony to this story. CWI manufacturers natural gas engines at their plant in Jamestown, New York, the irony is that New York is the only state in the USA (to my knowledge) that has a ban on LNG. That is correct. New York state law prohibits the storage of LNG in the state due to a political issue from over 40 years ago involving an effort to construct an LNG production and storage facility in the state. Engines produced in New York by CWI that can use LNG as a fuel cannot run in New York on LNG. That is irony.Several of us in the industry are working tirelessly to modify the state law to allow LNG as a truck fuel. We are making progress, but it is an uphill climb. Stay tuned for a future update to this story of irony.