Last Updated: Thu Jan 20, 2011 13:34 pm (KSA) 10:34 am (GMT)

UAE converts more vehicles run by natural gas

Converting Infiniti G37 by ADNOC to run on compressed natural gas (photo courtesy of The National)
Converting Infiniti G37 by ADNOC to run on compressed natural gas (photo courtesy of The National)

More than 500 public vehicles and taxis in the UAE’s capital will be converted to run on natural gas, in a bid to reduce air pollution and save up more money, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

The upgrade for a more environmentally-friendly fuel is by Abu Dhabi’s stated-owned oil company ADNOC, and it comes to increment the previous 117 vehicles that have undergone the conversion, The National said.

Currently ADNOC is converting, at no charge, 25 Abu Dhabi Company for Offshore Oil Operations (Adco) cars and more than 79 taxis.

The service to convert vehicles which are only available to public vehicles and taxis will soon include private cars, ADNOC officials said.

Reduces CO2 emissions

 If you currently spend around $28 on refilling your car, you could only pay around $14 for the same distance by converting to natural gas 
Maher al-Rafai, the director of the natural gas vehicle conversion center at Emirates Transport

Natural gas is made of mostly methane, and is the second only to hydrogen in emitting very low levels of carbon dioxide when burned.

Natural gas reduces carbon emissions by 25 percent, carbon dioxide by 80 percent and nitrogen by 60 percent, according to figures provided by Emirates Transport, which provides workshops for car conversion.

The reasons go back to natural gas’ colorless, odorless, non-toxic and lighter than air attributes said the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV Global).

Natural gas also has a narrow flammability range, making it a safer fossil fuel than other alternatives, the paper said, in addition to the fact that natural gas’ high ignition temperature which is about 600°C, compared to about 315°C for petrol.

“Unlike petrol, which pools on the ground and creates a fire hazard in the event of an accident, compressed natural gas (CNG) readily dissipates into the air,” the paper added.

According to UAE’s transport officials, going green can also save motorists up to 50 percent on refuelling costs.

"If you currently spend around $28 on refilling your car, you could only pay around $14 for the same distance by converting to natural gas," Maher al-Rafai, the director of the natural gas vehicle conversion center at Emirates Transport, a federal corporation owned wholly by the Government, told the paper.

More conversion centers

Two Abu Dhabi’s CNG conversion centers have officially opened and preparations to open other centers are complete, the paper said.

Elsewhere, a conversion center is also planned for the emirate of Sharjah. There are 17 natural gas pumps across the UAE, including 11 in Abu Dhabi, two in Al Ain and four in Sharjah.

According to Emirates Transport, conversion costs vary depending on engine size.

Converting a four-cylinder car would cost around $2055, while a six-cylinder car would cost about $2222 and eight cylinders would be close to $2583. However, only smaller vehicles can be converted at the moment.

Maintenance costs are also reduced due to CNG as a cleaner gas and it can therefore preserves the life of the engine. Al-Rafai said that motorists could recover their initial conversion costs within eight to nine months.

Natural gas vehicle numbers around the world have more than doubled in the past five years, said NGV global, and there are currently more than 12 million natural gas vehicles worldwide. NGV Global also projects that the figure will increase to at least ten-fold to 50 million vehicles by 2020.

Abu Dhabi’s plans include using natural gas as a replacement for liquid petroleum gas in cooking, as well as an alternative for electricity for heating and cooling.

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