How do natural gas vehicles behave in crashes?

Posted on June 2, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Natural gas is an environmentally clean, plentiful, low-cost, domestically produced fuel for motor vehicles.  But is it a safe fuel?
The strength of the natural gas cylinders and fuel system generally avoids any leakage or fire.  For example an accident involving a CNG-powered pick-up…proved to be a testimonial to the safety of CNG tanks.  As reported in the May 1995 edition of Automotive Fleet:  When the 1992 CNG pick-up was broadsided in Midland, Texas, the most vulnerable part of the fueling system bore the brunt of the hit.  While the force drove an imprint of the tank safety valve into the side of the truck, the CNG tanks did not rupture, and driver Jimmy Oden walked away.  And in a tragic 1998 accident, a stopped bi-fueled Honda (a vehicle which could run on either natural gas or gasoline) was impacted by another vehicle moving at nearly 100 mph and a fire fed by gasoline broke out.  The 50-liter natural gas fuel tank was intact and remained secured in its support brackets. (Reported in a June 1998 BC Gas press release). 
Nationwide Insurance, in looking at the safety of natural gas buses in a fleet, concluded as long ago as 1992 that “…the natural gas powered vehicles will be the safest vehicles in your fleet and (we) have no reservations about insuring them.” (Palmer, Pat, Nationwide Insurance, letter to Kenneth E. Bauman Bus, Inc., September 10, 1992)  In summary, technical data, appropriate safety regulations and years of experience show natural gas vehicles to be as safe as, or safer than, conventionally fueled vehicles.

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