Buenos Aires' Motorcycles Converting to Natural Gas

Next march, Buenos Aires will be the first city to have motorcycles running with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). This fuel is the cleanest of the fossil fuels available, as it's composed of methane. When combusted, it transforms into very small amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, virtually no ash or particles, and lower levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other reactive hydrocarbons. Coal and oil, on the other hand, result in higher carbon emissions, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and the release of ash particles, which don't burn and are carried to the atmosphere, contributing to pollution.The prototype was presented in the last Natural Gas Vehicles World Congress (NGV2004), held in Buenos Aires, and two companies just announced the launch of models for sale for next march. The special gas tanks (smaller than the cars') have to be approved by the government, but the approvals are in their final stages. The brands responsible are Zanella (Argentinean, site seems to be having problems) and Honda, in association with gas equipment firms. Also, these special tanks will enable current motorcycles to make the switch for $1000 (around US $300).

Natural gas has been used as an alternative fuel for the transportation sector since the 1930's. These days Argentina is the number one country with vehicles running on CNG, and Latin America is the number one region, having near 400 cities with converted vehicles. This has to do with the fact that CNG is a much cheaper alternative than petrol (refuel is about 1/3).

For those who aren't familiar with the equipment, in order to convert your vehicle you need a special tube-shaped tank, which is placed in the rear, top, or trunk of your car (last is most common), losing some space but gaining economically and environmentally. The tank can be filled in a similar manner and amount of time to a gasoline tank at regular or special CNG stations: there are more than 1,200 natural gas stations in Argentina, and close to 2,270 in the whole Latin American region. More than 200,000 cars converted to gas in this country last year. [by Paula Alvarado, Buenos Aires, Argentina]

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