There is lot of buzz around CNG. You have heard people running their cars at 1/2 or 1/3 cost of Petrol (a.k.a Gasoline). Wow!! that's cool. But will CNG kit installation affect my car engine? Does it mean that I won't be able to run my car on Gasoline? Which manufacturer should I opt for? What if the cylinder explodes in a collision???
Let's answer these questions one by one.
CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas. Chemically it is composed of simple hydrocarbons (contains 1-4 carbon atoms) and as the name suggests that the gas is stored in compressed form. This implies that your vehicle will be fitted with a cylinder too along with CNG kit. CNG is stored at a pressure of around 200psi in cylinder designed for vehicles. The cylinder is the component that bothers people the most. CNG kit is just double the size (diameter) of normal DVD. Cylinder occupies a lot of space in car's boot space and hurts people who need/use boot space a lot. See here for some images
CNG does not harm car's engine. Infact, it results in lower emissions (40-60%) and it's good for engine too as it burns more efficiently than gasoline and leaves very low deposit in car engine.
CNG kit installation doesn't mean that your car won't run on gasoline. Infact, most of the modern cars with MPFI or electronic controlled engine will always need gasoline to start. Once the engine has started, car will automatically switch to CNG. CNG kit comes with a switch which is installed near stearing and driver can switch back and forth between CNG and gasoline easily even while the car is running. So, car becomes a Duel Fuel vehicle. Cool!!!
And Financial benefits.. There are lot. In Asian economies where gasoline is even costlier than western economies, CNG can result in upto 2/3 cost saving per km. And this is a big motivation for the people to use CNG. For breakeven calculations see here.
Coming to installation now... It basically consists of cylinder, Gas Air mixer, few valves, filling nozzle and selector switch. Installation in western countries is easy. Search for an agency in your vicinity, ask pickup or drive your car to garage, chat and have beer. Swipe card and you are done. Installation usually takes about 3 hours in total. My dear Indians please keep reading and take care of the following points (others may skip).
Installation by third agency (another than car company's authorized workshop) will void all warranties. So, if you want to keep warranty then make sure that you get kit installed from authorized workshop. Usually, only that workshop (not all workshops of car company) will replace car parts if something goes wrong after kit installation (due to any cause). So, this is a trap.
If you don't go for company's workshop, then take care that you don't fall in trap of road side mechanics. They may install spurious kits some of which are manufactured in India. Make sure that they install the kit you ask for and the packing is not broken.
Then comes the registration of vehicle with CNG information. CNG is not used across India. So, if you have car registered with state where CNG is not supplied, then they may not certify your car with CNG. Even worse, you may not be able to transfer registration to state where CNG is available and you plan to drive car due to different emission standards. For example, it's not possible to transfer Euro-II car to New Delhi because Delhi Transport now requires cars to be Euro-III. In short, have CNG installed when you purchase car.
Don't forget to collect Installer's certificate from the workshop.
Here is a list of CNG solution providers in India.
Now, the CNG fueling process. Fueling is done using pressurized gas inserted into car's cylinder thru fueling nozzle. So, how much gas will make into the gas cylinder depends upon pressure at gas station and temperature. Higher the temperature, lesser will be the gas into the cylinder. Normally, a car with 12 kg cylinder (12 kg is the max gas it can hold at around 200psi) will need refueling every 160-170km which is frustrating. Rush at gas stations in India make it even worse. This means you need to visit gas station more frequently for CNG. Big vehicles may be fitted with 2 large capacity cylinders which make it is less painful. In India, CNG is distributed by IGL.
Safety. Hey CNG is gas. So it will catch fire easily. No. It won't. CNG is not like LPG which is always dying to burn. CNG has very narrow combustion range (5-15% density in air). So, very less probability of catching fire and consistent combustion. And it is not mixed with foul smelling gas as in LPG so thats good too. Cylinder is rock solid, so don't worry about it.
What is this lambda? Lambda is a electronic component which controls gas-air mixture and it's injection into the car engine. Without Lambda installed, your car may suffer a decline in pickup. The difference is noticeable. So, if your car has manual transmission (most car in India have) then you have to do more gear and clutch work in heavy traffic. At high speed and smooth traffic, it doesn't make any different in driving experience.
And last.. cylinder are themselves very heavy. A cylinder which holds 12kg gas weighs 60kg and the one holding 14kg weighs 70kg. So, your car may appear lower due to this extra weight in its boot space.
That's it!!! I can't recall any other point of consideration. I have Landi Renzo installed and its working fine till now. I have 8000 km on my car since installation. If you want any other information or want to correct me, please leave a comment.
Happy driving with CNG :)
Disclaimer: This information is provided as is and this is neither a recommendation nor advertisement of some agency or company. IGL is a trademark of Indra Prastha Gas Limited. All other marks are trademarks of their respective company.