Energy students learned about natural gas vehicles in Iowa
Published:2016-04-22 04:12:29    Text Size:【BIG】【MEDIUM】【SMALL
April 21, 2016. Iowa Western Community College sustainable energy students learned about vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) during a special class session Monday at Sapp Brothers. The students were from the college’s “Introduction to Alternative Fuels” and “Renewable Energy Business Practices” courses.
   “Natural gas is one of the alternative fuels we study,” said Carol Young, sustainable energy chair at IWCC. “We also look at ethanol and how it compares to the gas industry and also look at other alternative fuels.”
   Iowa Western tapped Tim Hess of Black Hills Energy and Mike Hoelscher of Stirk CNG as their primary resource people for the lesson.
   “CNG right now is a fleet game,” Hoelscher said. “It’s your large users who are your fleet users. Our business model is geared toward the heavy-duty side.” The large vehicles are the biggest polluters and face restrictions in states like California, he added.
   Most natural gas vehicles are made in factories by companies with familiar names – Ford, General Motors, Dodge, Freightliner, Kenworth and others, Hess said. The companies also have options for after-market conversion kits. “There are actually 50 (natural gas vehicles) manufacturers in the world producing 100 vehicles,” he informed.
   Natural gas offers several advantages over gasoline and diesel fuel, Hess said. It burns cleaner, delivers comparable mileage and performance, requires less refining and, being lighter than air, is safer, he said. It can extend engine life and reduce maintenance costs.
   It’s a domestic energy source, and, while it is not renewable, it is plentiful enough to last another 100 years, according to Black Hills. The price ranges from 99 cents to $2.35 for a gasoline gallon equivalent, while gasoline and diesel are expected to return to $3.50 to $4 per gallon.

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