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Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) as Fuel for The Shipping Industry

It was a century ago when shipping had transformed from “coal fuelled”to “oil fuelled”. A another hundred years later, transformation to a newer fuel source is making waves, only this time, it is to “gas”.

Driven by tougher international and environmental standards, (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG is being termed as the fuel of the future. Accordig to experts, large scale shipping is believed to be sourced by LNG in the near future. According to DNV, being “LNG Ready” could be the best option for many ships.

Reasons for Transformation

Higher marine fuel oil prices have made way to development of newer technologies based on cost and environment efficient fuels such as natural gas. Natural gas is a potential winner in terms of being environment friendly, safe, reliable and cost effective. When compared to oil, natural gas has become an important commodity with a key global energy impact. Due to the influential properties possessed by natural gas, it is the only alternative fuel which is believed to drive the future. Studies have shown that usage of natural gas or (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG as fuel has cut down the poisonous sulphur emissions or SOx significantly with a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrox or NOx gases.

Boat-Diesel-Black-Exhaust-SmokeLNG or Liquefied Natural Gas is super chilled and in liquid state when transported. Since it is already seen as a supplement fuel for a variety of segments, it can create an even bigger impact when used as ship fuel. Climate changes, current and future international shipping regulations, etc. are anticipated as costly laws which need to be complied at various stages and (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG fuel is expected to support in the process.

LNG fuelled ships are able to emit almost zero sulphur oxide emissions, which is appropriate when the regulatory 2015 ECA’s or Emission Control Areas come in action. Due to lesser carbon content in LNG, release of the harmful carbon dioxide gas is reduce by nearly 25 percent. With the present market value of LNG in commercially viable regions such as the US and Europe, LNG could be offered at  a competitive price when compared to heavy fuel oil or HFO and even more attractive when compared to the low-sulphur gas oil, as fuel on ships.

How is the transformation taking place? 

Major container liner companies such as CMA-CGM are working towards developing future ships which are (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG fueled  along with implementing other technologies to reduce harmful ship emissions. This technology can only be developed when a solution to LNG refueling has been concretely developed. Wartsila, a major ship engine maker has developed and completed conversion from oil-run engines to LNG powered. Such duel fuel engines have now been implemented in several cargo ships.

M/V Bit Viking is considered the largest of the vessels afloat and in service with approx. 25, 000 dwt powered by LNG. Similarly, M/S Viking Grace is the largest passenger vessel to use LNG fuel. After almost a decade in development of LNG technology, presently, approximately 30 floating vessels are (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG fuelled and servicing the European waters. Tugboats and high speed ferries are next in line for the conversion to LNG.


Some companies are building hybrid ships ( Read hybrid ferry and hybrid car carrier) that are able to run on both oil and gas as fuel. The technology will see ships to be powered by natural gas for upto half way through the voyage and still be capable to switch over to bunker fuel for the remainder of the journey. Idea will be to use natural gas as the primary source of power and bunker fuel as a secondary / emergency one.

Disadvantages of Using LNG as Fuel 

A potential disadvantage to using LNG is space. Since gas weighs more, volume-wise it requires more space as compared to bunker oil. The farther the journey, the equally larger amount of storage space is required. So far, tanks are designed to be built in the cargo spaces of the ships for using gas as fuel. This is a major setback for the ship operators in terms of freight earned by the cargo. Engineers and architects are working towards developing systems that would make room for storing (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG. This could be anywhere on the vessel, above-deck, in the superstructures, beneath the cargo containers, astern of the vessel, etc. and this would also call for extra insulation, piping and steelwork as far as construction of the vessels is concerned. Moreover, Hyundai has now developed dedicated LNG storage tank.

Strict pollution regulations mean ship operators will be also installing more expensive units to cut emissions such as scrubbers.  Another drawback before introduction of (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG is the availability of the fuelling stations, as these may have to be set up at major ports or at regular bunkering points, feasibility studies and reports may have to be attained.

Research has been progressive regarding extraction of natural gas trapped in rock formations around the globe. Future for low sulphur fuel oil looks bright and at the same time demanding with refineries falling short of delivering upto standard requirements. Ship operators are definitely going to spend from their nose with the implementation of stricter global laws and safety standards. Due to this, use of low-Sulphur fuel oil or marine diesel oils will raise the shipping companies’ operating costs by four folds. This is slowly making the owners realise the value of natural gas as a prime fuel for ships engaged in long voyages. The dynamics of the ever-increasing global trade and transportation industry are working in favour of investing in natural gas for fuel on ships.

Before taking a call for the change-over decision, ship operators need to identify the scope of transition with introduction to dual fuel system, price comparison of the commodities and the areas where their ships would ply. This means ships that frequently pass through the ECA and SECA’s or the emission control areas would be depending on the rise in (Liquified Natural Gas) LNG fuelling technology.

LNG fuel surely holds a promising future in the shipping industry. However, only time can tell as to how well it becomes an integral part of the shipping industry in the days to come.

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World’s First Dual-Fuel, Low-Speed ME-GI Engine Delivered

 Doosan Engine has confirmed delivery of the world’s first dual-fuel, low-speed ME-GI engine to the American National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego, USA. The new engine is capable of operation on LNG and/or bunker C oil and will power the first of two 3,100-teu container ships ordered by TOTE, the American marine transportation company.

The Korean engine maker originally won the order to build the ME-GI engines in 2013, since which time the first ME-GI unit has successfully passed through design, manufacture, and test-run stages. On 3 June 2014, Doosan Engine successfully completed the engine’s official trial run in the presence of the shipowner, shipyard, and classification society representatives.

Doosan Engine also tested the ME-GI’s Fuel Gas Supply System (FGSS), which has 300 bar of operating pressure, at its Changwon plant. At the
culmination of two months of extensive testing, the gas system had passed all regulations and restrictions as regulated by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and United States Coast Guard (USCG).


The TOTE ME-GI engine will primarily operate on LNG, which is currently more competitively priced than bunker-C oil. The ME-GI is a next-generation, eco-friendly engine, which reduces polluted material such as carbon dioxide, nitrogenous compound, and sulphur compounds compared to existing diesel engines.

The Contract

The TOTE contract provides for the construction of two newbuilding, state-of-the-art containerships – with an option for three more vessels – for primarily domestic services. The vessels will each be powered by a single 8L70ME-GI dual-fuel gas-powered engine.

The two 3100 TEU vessels will be the most environmentally friendly containerships in the world, powered primarily by LNG, and will operate between Florida and Puerto Rico. The ship design will allow the transport of conceivable products.

The ME-GI Engine

The ME-GI engine represents the culmination of many years’ work. Depending on relative price and availability, as well as environmental
considerations, the ME-GI engine gives shipowners and operators the option of using either HFO or gas – predominantly natural gas. An ME-LGI
counterpart is also being developed that uses LPG and methanol.


MAN Diesel & Turbo sees significant opportunities arising for gas-fuelled tonnage as fuel prices rise and modern exhaust-emission limits tighten.
Indeed, research indicates that the ME-GI engine delivers significant reductions in CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. Furthermore, the ME-GI engine
has no methane slip and is therefore the most environmentally friendly technology available. As such, the ME-GI engine represents a highly efficient, flexible, propulsion-plant solution.

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Selection of stainless steels for cryogenic applications_toughness

Selection of stainless steels

Affect of steel structure on toughness

The toughness of the austenitics relies on their fcc atomic structure. The presence of either ferrite or martensite can limit the cryogenic usefulness of the austenitic stainless steels.
The small levels of ferrite usually present in wrought austenitics is not usually detrimental.

Cold working of austenitic stainless steels can also affect their cryogenic toughness.
This is due to the progressive formation of martensite from the ‘meta-stable‘ austenite. In effect this is similar to the presence of ferrite and can be controlled in the same way through compositional changes that stabilise the austenite.
In addition the effects of cold work can be removed by heat treatment. Solution annealing (softening) by heating to around 1050 / 1100 °C and cooling in air, depending on section size, will completely stress relieve the structure and transform the structure back the naturally tough austenitic one.

Welded areas may be at risk of brittle failure at very low temperatures, as ferrite levels in welds are higher than the surrounding wrought steel (to avoid hot cracking on solidification).
Special low ferrite level welding consumables are available for cryogenic applications and should be considered for very low, safety critical, temperature applications.

Castings compositions for austenitic stainless steel also have ferrite levels higher than the corresponding wrought grades BS3100 – Steel Castings for General Engineering Purposes, requires special impact tests at -196°C for the cryogenic application grades such as 304C12LT196. Although there are no major restrictions on composition, this grade is required to meet an additional Charpy impact test requirement of 41 Joules minimum at -196°C

Impact toughness of austenitic stainless steels

When austenitic stainless steels are Charpy tested at -196°C the test piece is usually ductile enough not to fracture (which actually invalidates the test).

Data available however quotes impact energies of over 130J for the 304 (1.4301) type. This is well within the 60-Joule minimum required in BS EN 10028-7 pressure vessel standard for 304 (1.4301) at -196°C.
Any of the austenitic stainless steels should be suitable for applications at these temperatures. The best choices of grades for very low temperatures are those with austenite stabilising additions such as nitrogen e.g. asi n grade 304LN (1.4311). (Higher alloy grades such as 310 (1.4845) or 904L (1.4539) which derive their austenite stability from higher nickel levels could also be considered)

Wrought grades with ferrite stabilising additions such as 321 (1.4541) or 347 (1.4550) may not be suitable at very low temperatures e.g. at the liquid helium boiling point of -269°C.

Impact toughness of other stainless steels

The ferritic, martensitic and duplex stainless steels cannot be considered as cryogenic steels.
Their impact characteristics change at sub-zero temperatures in a similar way to low alloy steels. The transition temperatures will depend on composition and heat treatment.

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Selection of stainless steels for cryogenic applications

stainless steelsIntroduction

  Ferritic, martensitic and duplex stainless steels tend to become brittle as the temperature is reduced, in a similar way to other ferritic / martensitic steels.

  The austenitics stainless steels such as 304 (1.4301) and 316 (1.4401) are however ‘tough’ at cryogenic temperatures and can be classed a cryogenic steels.

They can be considered suitable for sub-zero ‘ambient’ temperatures sometimes mentioned in service specifications sub-arctic and arctic applications and locations (typically down to -40°C).

This is the result of the ‘fcc’ (face centred cube) atomic structure of the austenite, which is the result of the nickel addition to these steels.

  The austenitics do not exhibit an impact ductile / brittle transition, but a progressive reduction in Charpy impact values as the temperature is lowered.

  There is a useful summary of low temperature data for austenitic stainless steels on the Nickel Institute website.

Impact toughness and impact strength measurement

  Impact tests e.g. Charpy, are done to assess the toughness of materials. To assess their suitability for cryogenic applications, the test is done after cooling the test piece.

  The Charpy impact test measures the energy absorbed in Joules when a standard 10mm square test piece (usually with a 2mm deep ‘v’ notch) is fractured by striking it in a pendulum type testing machine.

The more energy absorbed, the tougher the material, and less likely it is to fail ‘catastrophically’ if subject to mechanical shocks or impacts.

The impact toughness of steels varies with temperature.

Ferritic and martensitic steels exhibit what is known as a ‘ductile / brittle transition’ where, over a certain temperature range, there is a pronounced reduction in the impact toughness for a small decrease in test temperature.

  When plotted on a graph, the energy absorbed against temperature produces an ‘S’ curve.

The mid-point on the ‘S’ is known as the ‘transition temperature‘. Here the fracture failure mode changes as the temperature is lowered, from ‘ductile’, where the steel can absorb quite a lot of energy in breaking, to brittle, where only a small of amount of energy is absorbed.

For this reason it is dangerous to use steels in this brittle state in structural applications, as even small shock loads can result in sudden, possiblecatastrophic failures.

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Steel Flower – Jungwoo ENE co-developed Cryogenic special industrial equipments


STEEL FLOWER will acquire cryogenic industrial equipment technology and will start the LNG ship fuel supply business.

  STEEL FLOWER and JUNGWOO ENE have signed an agreement to jointly develop cryogenic special industrial equipments.

  Cryogenic industrial equipment is used in offshore plants and industrial plants using cryogenic refrigerants below -60 ° C. Especially, LNG plant equipments are capable of handling ultra-low temperatures of minus 162 ° C.

  At the agreement, representatives of Steel Flower Byeong-Kwon Kim, President Kim Kook-Jin, Researcher Jeongwoo ene and CEO Lee Sun Ha and Vice President Park Joon-Hyung attended and developed high-pressure natural gas fuel supply system (FGSS) for natural gas fuel vessels, And sharing technology contents for the development of cryogenic industrial equipments, supporting technology development expenses, and planning commercialization.

  In the meantime, Steel Flower has signed a contract to transfer the patent technology of ‘High Pressure Natural Gas Fuel Supply System (HiVAR FGSS)’, a core technology of DSME and next generation LNG fuels, I came. In addition, Jungwoo ENE, which has entered into this technology agreement, has developed technologies related to FGSS such as HP pumps, heat exchangers and cryogenic valves, followed by development of LNG compressors with large shipyards, submersible centrifugal pumps for LNG transportation, LNG cryogenic valves and control valves’ and ‘Vacuum insulation piping for cryogenic liquids’, which are expected to generate synergies through the establishment of a cooperation system.

  STEEL FLOWER Kim Byung-kwon said, “With these two companies’ technical cooperation, we will develop high-priced core parts that are dependent on imports for the time being, and will lead the development and commercialization of low-pressure high-pressure natural gas fuel supply equipment. We will actively respond to the demand for LNG-fueled vessels that are expected to be built and concentrate on preempting the world market. “

  Meanwhile, FGSS is the world’s first proprietary high pressure liquefied natural gas fuel supply system for DSME, which is the core technology of natural gas fuel vessels, which is regarded as the next generation ship.

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Why is Cargo Ventilation Important on Ships?

One of the important aspects of transporting cargo on ships is to prevent any kind of damage to the cargo. It is important to take proper care of the cargo on board ships to avoid loss of property and avert cargo claims.

Damage to cargo can happen because of several reasons such as accident, flooding, rain water, etc. Of all the reasons, moisture is one of the most common causes of cargo damage and a source of significant cargo claims.

In order to prevent damage of cargo because of moisture, ships are fitted with natural or forced ventilation systems. Moisture responsible for cargo damage is also called “sweat” on ships. Sweat is mainly of two types:

  • Cargo sweat
  • Vessel sweat

Cargo sweat refers to the condensation that occurs on the exposed surface of the cargo as a result of warm, moist air introduced in to holds containing substantially colder cargo. This type of sweat generally occurs when the vessel is travelling from a colder to a warmer place and the outside air has a dew point above the temperature of the cargo.

Cargo Ventilation

Vessel sweat refers to the condensation that occurs on the surface of the vessel when the air inside the hold is made moist and warm by the cargo, when the later comes in contact with the vessel surface as the vessel moves from a hot to cold region. Vessel sweat leads to formation of overhead drips inside the hold or accumulation of condensed water at the bottom of the hold, which may lead to cargo damage. Thus, cargo ventilation systems are provided on ships.

Cargo ventilation system helps in the following:

  • Prevent cargo and ship sweat
  • Supply fresh air to the cargo
  • Prevent building up of poisonous gases
  • Removing of smell of previous cargo
  • Getting rid of heat and moisture given out by some types of cargo

Cargo ventilation on ships is important for both hygroscopic and non-hygroscopic cargoes.

Hygroscopic cargo has natural water/moisture content. This type of cargo is mainly plant products, which absorb, retain, and release water within the cargo. This water leads to significant heating and spreading of moisture in the cargo and result in caking or spoiling or cargo.

Non-hygroscopic cargo has no water content; however, they can get spoilt in moist environment.

Cargo Ventilation on Ships

The dew point of the air, both inside and outside the cargo hold plays an important role in determining the quality of cargo. Here, the “Dewpoint Rule” is taken into consideration to provide ventilation and keep the temperature within the favourable range.

According to the Dewpoint Rule, ventilation must be provided if the dewpoint of the air inside the hold is higher than the dewpoint of the air outside the hold. However, ventilation must not be provided if the dewpoint of the air inside the hold is lower than the dewpoint of the air outside the hold.

Sometimes it’s impracticable to measure the dewpoint temperature of the cargo hold. In such circumstances, ventilation is provided by comparing average cargo temperature at the time of loading with the outside air temperature.

Cargo ventilation is important for both hygroscopic and non-hygroscopic products. However, the former one requires more careful monitoring and checks along with appropriate ventilation than the later one.

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DSME: first Arctic LNG carrier to test icebreaking capabilities during sea trials

DSME: first Arctic LNG carrier to test icebreaking capabilities during sea trials
Image courtesy of DSME

South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering (DSME) completed the construction of the first Arctic LNG carrier, the Christophe de Margerie. 

According to the shipbuilder’s statement, the vessel, named after former Total’s CEO who died in a tragic plane crash at the end of 2014, is scheduled to set out for its sea trials in the Arctic sea to test its icebreaking capabilities during the week, after 30 months of construction.

Following the completion of sea trials, the 172,600-cbm LNG carrier will be delivered to its owner, Sovcomflot, at the end of January.

The Arc7 ice class Christophe de Margerie will be able to navigate in ice fields of up to 2.1 meters thick as its bow and stern are covered with 70 millimeters of steel plates capable of withstanding temperatures of -52°C.

DSME has further 14 Arctic LNG carrier on order, all contracted to serve the Yamal LNG project in Russia.

Christophe de Margerie is the only vessel ordered by Sovcomflot while the remaining 14 vessels are owned by MOL (three) Teekay (six) and Dynagas (five). Deliveries of the remaining newbuilds are scheduled over the next four years.

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How Does LNG Terminal Works?

LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) terminal is a reception facility for unloading of cargo from LNG tankers. This purpose built ports are specially used for export and import of LNG.  A variety of facilities for unloading, regasification, tanking, metering etc. of LNG are provided at these terminals.

Natural gas is transported in liquified state using LNG gas tankers. At LNG terminals, the liquified natural gas is turned back into gaseous state (regasified) after unloading from ships and then distributed across the network. The activity at LNG terminal can be divided into four main stages.

1. Receiving and Unloading of LNG from ships

2. Storage or tanking of LNG

3. Compression and regasification

4. Transmission

lng terminal

1. Receiving and Unloading of LNG from Ships 

Special types of pipes are used to transfer LNG from the ships to the storage tanks on the terminal. The LNG gas is received at extremely low temperature (-160 C) while transferring to the tanks. The tanker is moored at the unloading quay and the LNG is offloaded using three arms (special pipes) located at the quay.

2. Storage or Tanking of LNG

The LNG passes through the pipelines that joins the arms to the tanks and is stored inside the tanks at a temperature of -160 C.  Tanking of LNG involves storing at special cryogenic tank designed for extremely low temperature. The double walled insulated tanks are made to store the gas in liquid state by preventing boil-off. The outer walls of the tanks are made of prestressed reinforced concrete or steel to attain the finest insulation for the LNG.

In spite of such high insulation, minor evaporation still takes place because of low heat leakage. Compressor and recondensing system are used to collect this gas and feed it back to the LNG. This recycling system prevents any kind of escape of LNG from the system.

Reliquefyer /Recondensor

Reliquefyer is a collector system wherein LNG from the tanks and Boil off from the compressors is collected before is goes for the regasification process. High pressure pumps are used to push LNG from the Reliquefyer to the Regasification system. Recondensor also helps in keeping the boil off gas in the liquid state.

Regasification LNG Terminal - For Representation Purpose Only; Credits:

Regasification LNG Terminal – For Representation Purpose Only; Credits:

3. Regasification Process / Vaporizer system

Regasification is the process of converting LNG gas from liquid state to gaseous state. Heat exchangers are used to regasify the LNG after it is removed from the tanks and pressurized between 70-100 bars. Generally sea water is used for the regasification process along with high pressure pumps for transferring LNG.

How Regasification is done?

Regasification process involves raising the temperature of the LNG using seawater. The LNG gas is passed through a heat exchanger using sea water. Some LNG terminals also use turbine flue gases from their energy recovery systems. LNG is thus converted into gaseous state by heating at a temperature greater than 0 degree Celsius.

Some LNG terminals also have underwater burners which are also used to heat the LNG to convert it to gaseous form. Such burners use natural gas as fuel and are generally used during peak demand period. Such vaporizers are called submerged combustion vaporizers.

4. Transmission 

Once it is turned back to the gaseous state, the natural gas undergoes metering, odorizing, analysis etc. before it is fed to the natural gas transmission system.

As natural gas is odorless and inflammable, it is odorised to detect the slightest leak. This is mainly done by injecting tetrahydrothiophene(THT) in the LNG before it is distributed.

This is a general overview of the various processes that takes place at an LNG terminal. An LNG terminal can work a bit differently on the basis of the requirement and purpose of the particular terminal.

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Liquefied Natural Gas


Natural gas is the most climate friendly of the fossil fuels releasing less CO2 than oil based products such as diesel.

Natural gas is the world’s third most important energy source after oil and coal. It occurs naturally deep underneath the earth’s crust in many places around the world. Natural gas currently represents a quarter of the global energy supply.

Natural gas is used in industry, in power plants, in district heating and in sea and overland transport. Throughout Europe, natural gas has traditionally been regarded as a form of green energy.

There are many reasons to take an interest in natural gas. It has major advantages over other fossil-based energy sources – not least the fact that natural gas gives off fewer undesirable emissions. But also because natural gas is more efficient and kinder to the environment than the other fossil fuels which are currently used in industry, shipping and overland transport.

Natural gas is converted to LNG by harnessing innovative cryogenic technologies that make it available both for worldwide transport as well as for local markets. This conversion can also contribute to increased use of biogas. The conversion of natural gas into liquid is achieved through refrigeration by cooling natural gas to -162°C.

The resulting condensate is known as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Liquefaction reduces the volume by about 600 times, making it more economical to transport between continents in specially designed LNG carriers. Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is natural gas in its liquid form. It is the cleanest burning fossil fuel as it produces less emissions and pollutants than either coal or oil.

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What’s the difference between CNG, LNG, LPG and Hydrogen?


The following is a brief summary highlighting the main differences of these fuels.  Much more comprehensive details of the fuel properties and compositions is available from other web sources and online databases.

Compressed Natural Gas or CNG is stored on the vehicle in high-pressure tanks – 20 to 25 MPa (200 to 250 bar, or 3,000 to 3,600 psi).  Natural gas consists mostly of methane and is drawn from gas wells or in conjunction with crude oil production.  As delivered through the pipeline system, it also contains hydrocarbons such as ethane and propane as well as other gases such as nitrogen, helium, carbon dioxide, sulphur compounds, and water vapour.  A sulphur-based odourant is normally added to CNG to facilitate leak detection.  Natural gas is lighter than air and thus will normally dissipate in the case of a leak, giving it a significant safety advantage over gasoline or LPG.

Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG is natural gas stored as a super-cooled (cryogenic) liquid.  The temperature required to condense natural gas depends on its precise composition, but it is typically between -120 and -170°C (-184 and –274°F).  The advantage of LNG is that it offers an energy density comparable to petrol and diesel fuels, extending range and reducing refuelling frequency.

The disadvantage, however, is the high cost of cryogenic storage on vehicles and the major infrastructure requirement of LNG dispensing stations, production plants and transportation facilities.  LNG has begun to find its place in heavy-duty applications in places like the US, Japan, the UK and some countries in Europe.  For many developing nations, this is currently not a practical option.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas or LPG (also called Autogas) consists mainly of propane, propylene, butane, and butylene in various mixtures.  It is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining.  The components of LPG are gases at normal temperatures and pressures.  One challenge with LPG is that it can vary widely in composition, leading to variable engine performance and cold starting performance.  At normal temperatures and pressures, LPG will evaporate. Because of this, LPG is stored in pressurised steel bottles.  Unlike natural gas, LPG is heavier than air, and thus will flow along floors and tend to settle in low spots, such as basements.  Such accumulations can cause explosion hazards, and are the reason that LPG fuelled vehicles are prohibited from indoor parkades in many jurisdictions.

Hydrogen or H2 gas is highly flammable and will burn at concentrations as low as 4% H2 in air.  For automotive applications, hydrogen is generally used in two forms: internal combustion or fuel cell conversion.  In combustion, it is essentially burned as conventional gaseous fuels are, whereas a fuel cell uses the hydrogen to generate electricity that in turn is used to power electric motors on the vehicle.  Hydrogen gas must be produced and is therefore is an energy storage medium, not an energy source.  The energy used to produce it usually comes from a more conventional source.  Hydrogen holds the promise of very low vehicle emissions and flexible energy storage; however, many believe the technical challenges required to realize these benefits may delay hydrogen’s widespread implementation for several decades.

Hydrogen can be obtained through various thermochemical methods utilizing methane (natural gas), coal, liquified petroleum gas, or biomass (biomass gasification), from electrolysis of water, or by a process called thermolysis.  Each of these methods poses its own challenges.

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