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AMF - Implementing Agreement on Advanced Motor Fuels

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Annex 48: Value Proposition Study on Natural Gas Pathways for Road Vehicles

Final Report

Feasibility of Natural Gas Pathways for Motor Vehicles - An International Comparison


Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles have achieved moderate popularity throughout the world, but they continue to suffer from limited range and, possibly, excessive weight. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has demonstrated practicality in heavy duty vehicles, but it is currently too heavy to store onboard in light duty vehicles. A third candidate, synthetic fuels derived from natural gas, present possibly more feasible utilization of available energy, but to date such fuels have been typically more expensive to produce than CNG and LNG. Electricity derived from natural gas offers a fourth candidate for fueling vehicles, especially with the current emergence of electric vehicles and accompanying infrastructure worldwide.

One key advantage that CNG and LNG combustion offers is the avoidance of an intermediate conversion step into a secondary fuel prior to fueling the vehicle, which introduces extra cost and fuel efficiency losses. Production of synfuels, on the other hand, will likely result in energy loss in the synthesis conversion process, but some of this expense will likely be offset in part by elimination of other costs, such as simpler transport of fuels, higher vehicle efficiencies, etc. Synthetic fuels derived by natural gas offer additional benefits including use of a fuel that resembles petroleum fuels (also referred to as “drop in” fuels for use in legacy vehicles) in some cases and the ability for the fuels to often be delivered through existing pipeline infrastructure.

Using natural gas to generate electricity for use in electric vehicles also presents unique benefits including power generation and transmission through power lines instead of pipelines, ongoing development of charging infrastructure, and favorable vehicle efficiencies. New electric vehicles with improved range and fuel economies are regularly introduced in recent years so much momentum is building worldwide in this market segment.

For such benefits of natural gas-derived fuels to be realized, the resultant fuels would have to be produced, delivered and used in vehicles at prices competitive with petroleum-based fuels. Balancing these trade-offs on an economical basis will help to make choices of fuels for road transportation. In addition to cost, emphasis should also be placed on the environmental benefits, energy use, and energy security that each fuel pathway can offer to a particular nation.

Purpose and Objective

Together with partners, a value proposition study would be conducted to investigate different pathways of natural gas used in on-road vehicles to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the various options. Aspects include but are not limited to cost, lifecycle emissions, energy consumption, and societal benefits. The goal is to identify a “winning” way to utilize natural gas in transportation with the Proposal for CNG VPS_121212 Revised on 12 December 2012 potential to emerge into the mainstream market, instead of maintaining a niche market in many countries.


  • Overview of analysis and framework, including selection of NG fuel pathways for analysis
  • Define categories for investigation (i.e. origins of costs and benefits)
  • Cost of Production and Upstream Activities
  • Cost of Vehicle Ownership
  • Environmental/Societal Impacts
  • Make key modeling assumptions related to the vehicle, market, regulatory state, and LCA model boundaries
  • Identify and acquire necessary modeling tools (e.g., vehicle simulation and LCA models)
  • Identify 3-4 country-specific case studies, each to be modeled from an economic and environmental standpoint
  • Request/retrieve/process relevant data from task-sharing countries
  • Run simulations and complete necessary literature reviews to calculate costs and benefits for each pathway
  • Analyze results to determine most economically feasible pathways for each country
  • Compare results with traditional transportation fuels (e.g. gasoline and diesel) to determine if any are competitive
  • Draw conclusions on which pathways should be more highly considered for transportation fuel production
Project Duration October 2013 - June 2015
Task Sharing Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Israel, USA
Cost Sharing Canada, USA, Denmark
Total Budget 144.000 USD

Operating Agent

Dr. Ralph McGill
Fuel, Engines, and Emissions Consulting (FEEC)
305 Sugarwood Drive
Knoxville, Tennessee, 37934
phone: +1 865 207 9137
fax: +1 865 675-2866
email: mcgillralph@yahoo.com