Gas powered vehicles feature a
single internal combustion engine that operates with gas by default. The tanks are sealed and reach
half the pressure they can actually withstand. For easy refuelling there are
two filler necks beneath the fuel door, one for gas and the other for petrol.
They are ecological and run on
a fuel that is less expensive and just as safe as petrol or diesel; but do we
really know how natural gas powered cars work? Andrew Shepherd and Antonio
Calvo, experts on compressed natural gas (CNG) at SEAT car company, tell us all
about how these vehicles operate:
-Dual filler necks behind the fuel door: You can readily see the
two filler necks for both fuel types when you open the fuel door. “Refuelling
is the same as on a petrol or diesel car. The filler neck is in the same
location and it takes practically the same amount of time. And since the
refuelling is done with natural gas, it doesn’t smell or drip”, explains Antonio
-Sealed tanks: They are
located beneath the boot floor, where you would normally find the spare tyre,
and are made of high resistance steel with an anticorrosion treatment. A set of
solenoid safety valves seal the gas inside and only open when the ignition is
turned on. Their condition gets certified every 4 years and the components have
been tested to withstand extreme conditions: “The tanks on this car resist 200
bars of pressure, but they’re made to withstand more than double that, so safety
is completely guaranteed”, says Antonio.
-Two fuel types and a single engine: CNG cars are equipped with a
latest generation internal combustion engine that works indistinctly with
compressed natural gas or petrol. By default, the car drives on gas until it is
depleted, and automatically switches over to petrol. The driver cannot tell
when the shift takes place, as the engine’s performance is exactly the same
with both fuel types. “The engine features many specifically reinforced
components for burning natural gas. It complies with the most stringent
emissions regulations, and the ECO label issued by the Directorate General of
Traffic to cars fuelled with CNG is evidence of this”, explains SEAT CNG
product manager Andrew Shepherd.
-Shock proof: CNG vehicles comply with the most stringent industry
standards. During the entire development stage, they undergo a series of tests,
including crash testing, to guarantee they are completely safe. “In the most
extreme case of high temperatures caused by fire, the gas would be released
constantly in a controlled manner thanks to the thermal fuses located in each
tank, thus preventing an excessive pressure build-up” says Andrew.
controlled and adaptable pressure: The natural gas is housed in the tanks at
around 200 bars, but it gets injected in the engine at a pressure that does not
exceed 10 bars. A two-stage pressure regulator located in the engine bay
reduces the pressure and ensures an optimum gas supply, and the engine control
module monitors this electronic regulator at all times.
-An indicator displays the fuel type in use: The feeling at the
wheel is the same whether you drive with natural gas or petrol, so the only way
the driver can tell the difference is by looking at the indicator on the instrument
panel. When it’s on, the car is operating with natural gas; when it’s off it
means the car is in petrol mode. In addition, two further indicators display
the level of each fuel type and the trip computer provides information such as
consumption and how much range is left.
cars are just like any other: Andrew Shepherd explains that “gas fuelled
cars are designed, made and certified according to the industry’s highest
quality standards”. “There are no differences either during their production or
when driving them. I like to say that there is absolutely nothing unusual about
a CNG powered car, and that it’s just as safe and reliable as all the rest”,
concludes Antonio Calvo.
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