Even though oil is seen as an energy source that will eventually be depleted, there is an abundance of natural gas, which is used for big trucks, tanker and other large vehicles, but until now, hasnâ€™t been associated with small, commercial cars.
But all that could change.
Recently, more than 12 companies received federal funding to research how natural gas could be used for commercial vehicles. Traditionally, natural gas tanks have been too large to work with smaller cars, so the technical aspects of running a car on natural gas havenâ€™t worked out. But this most recent round of funding and research could change all that.
Getting Past Physics
Of the companies researching natural gas cars, many state that the physical requirements of such a setup pose the biggest problem. In fact, if they can solve the issue of using smaller, less bulky tanks, natural gas cars could become as common and popular as electric cars or hybrid vehicles.
Still, progress is years away, but the government hopes that by looking deeper into this energy source, car makers will be able to offer alternatives to electric cars, which, though environmentally friendly, still have their drawbacks. For one, the batteries on electric cars are often costly to fix, and when they are disposed of, they can affect the environment by the chemicals and parts they have inside.
It’s Not Perfect, But it’s a Start
So far, no one is claiming natural gas is the end-all, be-all answer to the energy crisis, but it is one avenue that researchers think could be worth exploring. If one or more of the researching companies find ways to get around the physical burdens of natural gas tanks, we could see natural gas cars within the decade, if not sooner.