The first internal combustion engine was a methane engine. The technology is a good deal easier to apply than with liquid fuels. Still, liquid fuels dominate the fuels world today as at the time there was no good way to store enough methane for longer voyages. With CNG and LNG, that’s different today. A modern LNG truck goes as far as a diesel truck with one filling. Methane also combusts not fast enough to sustain an explosion by itself. LNG vehicles have roamed the streets successfully for many decades now.
LNG vehicles – aren’t those forbidden to use underground parking?
NO, not in principle. Most Central Europeans see so-called Autogas vehicles when one brings gas fuelled vehicles up. Autogas has been around for decades. It’s a gaseous fuel that can be used for running an Internal Combustion Engine. But it’s not LNG.
LNG is methane, the shortest of all hydrocarbons. It’s not naturally explosive (contrary to Autogas), its lighter than air (contrary to Autogas which is why it does not accumulate in underground parking) and it has been around as a fuel for vehicles much longer than Autogas. LNG is neither corrosive and it’s non-toxic. If it spills, your water table won’t be affected. It will vaporize harmlessly.
Autogas is a sideproduct of oil and gas production. Nobody drills a hole in the ground for producing Autogas. This makes it very exotic and this had also limited its use for fuelling so far. Nobody really invests into Autogas anymore which means that its a technology that has run its course.
Methane powered vehicles – on the other side – go through an unprecedented renaissance right now. Companies such as Iveco and Westport Cummins put top-dollar into making methane vehicles ready for the next couple of decades. Methane engines have been around for more than 100 years and they are being produced in ever greater numbers today.
A little disclaimer here: Autogas is not dangerous. It requires more care in its handling than methane does. However, we have used gasoline for decades now without giving it a second thought and Autogas is about as dangerous as gasoline is.
LNG Austria exists also in order to set the record straight.