Natural gas (CNG) vs. LPG, LNG, RNG and Diesel

Gas pump

Commercial vehicle fleet managers face a dizzying array of options when it is time to replace or upgrade vehicles. One question that fleet managers often ask is whether there are any good fuel options available to their business besides diesel or gasoline. Alternative fuels, including natural gas, have grown in popularity in recent years due to their broad appeal. Considering a full or partial switch to an alternative fuel is more often than not a question worth asking. Here is how the main fuel options compare to each other.

Compressed Natural Gas vs. Diesel

Natural gas is a great choice for many types of heavy and medium-duty vehicles because it burns cleanly. Anyone who has replaced an oil furnace with a natural gas furnace in their home knows this. Oil furnaces produce soot and must have their flue cleaned regularly. Natural gas furnaces, in contrast, can be vented through the side of the house. You will never see any trace of soot on the wall above the vent because the combustion of natural gas doesn’t produce any. It’s the same thing with natural gas vehicles—they don’t generate particulate matter or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they don’t require difficult to maintain exhaust treatment systems. Beyond the environmental aspects, the benefits of natural gas engines are reliability and financial.

If interested, don’t forget to dive deeper in natural gas engines vs. diesel engines.

Natural gas vs. LPG

LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, is a mixture of light hydrocarbons. In the U.S. and in Canada, LPG consists of at least 90% of propane, with the balance made up of other gases including butane. This is why LPG is sometimes simply known as propane. In other countries, the composition of LPG can vary. In Mexico, for example, LPG’s propane content can be as low as 60%.

Natural gas, in contrast, is almost entirely made up of methane. If you have a gas grill, then LPG is what you use for your cookouts. If your home has a gas furnace, then natural gas is what keeps it warm (LPG or propane furnaces are also available).

In vehicle applications, LPG and natural gas present many of the same benefits. Both burn cleanly and silently, can help reduce maintenance vehicle costs, and can eliminate most cold weather start problems. LPG is the third most widely used motor fuel in the world behind gasoline and diesel, and so LPG tends to be easier to find. According to the US Department of Energy, there are almost 2,000 publicly accessible LPG fueling stations in the United States and Canada.

Compressed Natural Gas, in comparison, is only available at less than half that number of stations. (Both numbers are dwarfed by the number of gas stations dispensing gasoline, which is greater than 100,000).

Compressed Natural Gas vs. Liquefied Natural Gas

Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, and Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG, are the same substance. CNG is received and stored a vehicle’s tank is gaseous form. To obtain LNG, natural gas is compressed and cooled to extremely low temperatures, at which point it turns to liquid. LNG can then be shipped, stored, and used to fill the tanks of LNG vehicles. Much of the global natural gas trade occurs in the form of LNG. Some countries, such as South Korea and Japan, receive almost all of the natural gas they use in LNG form.

In vehicle applications, the main advantage that LNG has over CNG is that it is more dense. For two tanks of the same size, the LNG tank will allow a vehicle to drive further than the CNG tank. This makes LNG an interesting option for heavy trucks traveling long distances.

LNG, however, is more complicated to use, and is not widely available. LNG fueling stations require complex cryogenic equipment. There are only about 55 public-access LNG stations in the United States, and most are located at industrial facilities where natural gas is processed. LNG is also more hazardous than CNG. One safety concern results from the need for LNG vehicles to vent off fumes. LNG vehicles do not normally come with LNG cooling systems, so LNG tanks tend to gain heat. The heat gains cause some of the LNG to vaporize. Eventually, the vapors need to be vented to avoid excessive pressure build ups. This is why LNG vehicles should never be parked in interior garages unless special ventilation is installed. LNG, being very cold, can also cause freeze burn. Contact with LNG, LNG vapors and the uninsulated surfaces of LNG fuel system components should also be avoided, and drivers and mechanics need to be trained in LNG safety.

Natural gas vs. Renewable Natural Gas

Chemically, natural gas and renewable natural gas are almost identical. Natural gas vehicles can run on renewable natural gas without experiencing any difference. Natural gas and renewable natural gas differ in their origin. Natural gas, like oil, is extracted from fossil resources present in the ground. Renewable natural gas is obtained by fermenting organic waste such as sewage sludge or animal manure in large industrial tanks known as digesters. After some processing, the gases given off by the fermentation process can be used interchangeably with fossil natural gas.

Switching to renewable natural gas is a great way for businesses operating fleets of vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint. It can be produced at almost any dairy farm using relatively low tech equipment. It can be used to fuel nearly any CNG vehicle. If it is not practical to fuel a vehicle entirely on renewable natural gas, then blending with fossil natural gas is possible. Even then, the use of renewable natural gas will result in an instant reduction in CO2 emissions without the need to invest in any upgrades or modifications to the vehicle.

If natural gas engines are relevant to your needs, don’t forget to also check our answers to frequently asked questions about natural gas engines. These answers cover topics such as cost, practicality, and feasibility of integrating natural gas into commercial fleets.

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Puneet Singh Jhawar

Puneet Singh Jhawar

Puneet Singh Jhawar is the General Manager of the global natural gas business for Cummins Inc. In this role, he is responsible for the product vision, financial management and overall performance of the natural gas business. Over his 14-year career at Cummins, Jhawar has cultivated successful relationships with a number of Cummins’ largest customers. Jhawar has extensive global experience, with roles based in the Middle East, India, Europe and the US.

Home Standby Generators are smart tech and a smart choice

illustration of home with generator

This article was authored by Chuck McClaugherty, Bear Electric, a Cummins Authorized Dealer.

Smart phones, smart TVs, virtual assistants, smart thermostats, smart locks and doorbells. Our homes are now filled with smart devices. Unfortunately, most of them become useless without power to run or recharge. This is why homeowners should consider installing one smart device above all other: a home standby generator. 

As a Cummins Authorized Dealer, I install a lot of Cummins QuietConnect™ home standby generators throughout Oregon. With increasingly severe weather, rolling blackouts, and aging power grids, I can tell you without a doubt a backup generator is a worthwhile investment. 

The best part of owning one of these smart devices? You don’t have to tell it when to turn on and off. It does it automatically. 

In a nutshell, here’s the process:

When we install a Cummins home standby generator, we also install a Cummins automatic transfer switch. This transfer switch constantly monitors the electric utility power coming into the home. If it detects a break in service, it will automatically disconnect the home from the electric utility line in a split second and turn on the Cummins generator to power the home instead. The generator is fed either by a natural gas line or by a propane tank.

While the Cummins generator is powering the home, the transfer switch will continue to monitor the electric utility line. Once it detects that power has been restored, it’ll automatically disconnect the generator from the home’s electrical system and reconnect the electric utility.

You don’t have to do anything. Nada. Zilch. The generator and the transfer switch do all the work. In some cases, you may not even realize there’s a power outage until you look out the window and see all your neighbor’s houses are dark.

Just as critical as having a Cummins Authorized Dealer professionally install your backup generator and transfer switch is making sure you choose the right size generator for your home. If it’s too small, the load won’t be able to power everything in the house. If it’s too big, you’ll consume extra natural gas or propane when you use it.

The easiest way to make sure you select the right size generator is to have your dealer do it for you. But if you want to get a feel for how much generator you’re going to need, Cummins has an excellent blog post on calculating the generator wattage you need or you can use the generator size calculator at Cummins.com.

We live in a world full of smart devices. Make sure you can keep yours up and running during power outages with a Cummins QuietConnect home standby generator. To find a dealer near you, use the Cummins dealer locator. Or, if you live in Oregon, just contact me at (503) 678-3417 or [email protected] 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

1-800 Cummins software update

Sales and Service truck parked by bridge

Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) is pleased to announce that 1-800-CUMMINS will be offering software sales as an added feature. The suite of software supported by this new feature includes INSITE, QSOL, PowerSpec, INCAL, and Guidanz IA. Making this available through 1-800-CUMMINS will streamline customer handoffs, reduce downtime, and ensure our customers receive responsive and proactive software sales support, every time. 

What’s changing?

•    New Software Sales option on 1-800-CUMMINS™  
•    All calls to legacy numbers will be redirected to 1-800-CUMMINS™

What’s staying the same?

•    Customers can still call 1-800-CUMMINS™ for parts support, general product and service inquiries, and service provider technical assistance for engines, generators, and Cummins digital products. 

When did the change take place?

•    Monday, October 10, 2022

 “I am thrilled about this new offering we are providing our customers. Not only will this help them get the support they need faster, but it also helps reduce customer complexity,” added Greg Ehlinger, Executive Director, Centralized Solutions. “Our customers depend on us to power their business and having trusted solutions delivered easily and accessibly by experts who care is one way we are doing that.” 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins Inc. and EDF Renewables enters into a distributed photovoltaic Power Purchase Agreement

contract signing ceremony

Covering seven manufacturing entities with a total installed capacity of 16.5 MWp, reducing carbon emissions in facilities and operations significantly.

Cummins China and EDF Renewables signed a distributed photovoltaic PowerPurchase Agreement in Beijing, aiming to cut down electricity consumption from traditional grids and reduce carbon emissions in Cummins facilities & operations. Cummins will provide the roof & ground space and will consume the generated solar power, EDF Renewables will be responsible for the investment, installation and operation of solar PV generation equipment. WANG Ning, Vice President of Cummins, and Erwann Debos, CEO of EDF Renewables China, completed the signing of the contract on behalf of both parties. 

EDF is a global leader in renewable energy, including wind and solar. EDF Renewables has profound technical capabilities and service experience in the field of photovoltaic power generation. The partnership will install distributed photovoltaic power generation system at 7 manufacturing entities in Beijing, Wuxi, Wuhan, Chongqing and Liuzhou . With a total installed capacity of 16.5 MW, the project can provide about 280 million kWh of power generation in 20 years, saving about 158,000 tons of carbon emissions. 

"We are pleased that Cummins and EDF are working together in the field of distributed photovoltaics to provide new opportunities for Cummins to expand green energy consumption and reduce emissions from plant operations. It will help Cummins achieve renewable electricity use accounting for more than 10% of total electricity consumption by 2023 in China region. This project will further enable our capability in green production and operation, and position us well for sustainable development,” said WANG Ning. 

At present, the use of building roof to install photovoltaic system is a very effective way for corporate customers to reduce their carbon emissions. Cummins and EDF signed a 20-year power purchase contract, which can achieve carbon emission reduction targets and electricity cost savings at the same time. 

Erwann Debos said at the signing ceremony, "We are honored to provide Cummins with distributed photovoltaic Renewables solutions to help Cummins achieve its PLANET 2050 strategic goals. EDF Renewables aims to work hand in hand with customers to provide the most advanced integrated energy management solutions around the low-carbon transformation of enterprises, and to empower the global energy transition."

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

5 businesses that can benefit from selling Cummins generators

Cummins dealer discussing home generator

Ninety percent of American business are small- and medium-size. They are the true engines of our economy, employing millions of workers. With many of them looking for new ways to expand their services, generate income and grow their businesses, Cummins home standby and portable generators could be a new source of revenue. 

A Silver Lining in Dark Clouds

According to the Associated Press, power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades, straining our country’s aging power grid. This has increased the frequency and duration of power outages. These frequent outages create a need for reliable backup power for households and other businesses. And for enterprising small- and medium-size businesses, satisfying this need with Cummins generators is a huge opportunity.   

Which businesses could benefit the most from becoming Cummins authorized dealers? Here are our top five:

1. General Contractors — When natural disasters such as ice storms, hurricanes, high winds, forest fires or earthquakes hit, lost power isn’t the only challenge customers face. There is often physical damage to property that must be repaired. When they are helping customers to rebuild, general contractors have an opportunity to estimate home or business’s energy needs and suggest adding a Cummins QuietConnect™ Home Standby Generator. If the customer agrees, the general contractor not only profits from the sale of the generator, but also the labor to install it.

2. Electricians — A good electrician is a trusted source of information. Not only are they experts with the flow of electrons, they often know their customer’s specific electrical setups. After a prolonged power outage, many are often asked “Is there anything you can do to keep my electricity on the next time the power goes out?” Electricians who sell and install Cummins QuietConnect Home Standby Generators can say, “Yes, yes there is.” Installing home standby generators can be another valuable service that electricians provide.

3. Heating & Cooling Contractors — During a power outage, one of the most critical systems knocked offline for home and business owners is their central heating and cooling system. Going without heat or cool air for a long period of time is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous if the temperatures are extreme outside. So, naturally, once power is restored, finding a way to keep the HVAC system on during the next power outage becomes top-of-mind. Since heating and cooling contractors are experts at installing large systems in homes and businesses, adding Cummins QuietConnect standby generators to homes and businesses is a natural way to add another profit center to their businesses.

4. Online Retailers — Up until now, we’ve been discussing standby generators. For businesses that don’t specialize in installing generators permanently into place, Cummins portable generators can be a moneymaker.  While portable generators can be used during power outages, they are better suited to smaller tasks due to their portability. This makes them ideal for camping, tailgating, construction worksites and more. With Cummins’ rugged and reliable reputation, our portable generators are ideal for retailers focused on these market segments.

5. Solar Panel Installers — Most home solar panels are connected directly to the power grid. So, when the power goes out, the solar panels stop providing power. For a backup source of electricity, solar panel installers can either install a solar battery backup, which gets charged by the solar panels, or a home standby generator. Typically, solar battery backups can only power a home for a few hours, so if an area is prone to weather-related outages, a home standby generator such as the Cummins QuietConnect is the better choice.

The Time is Now

With more people than ever looking for backup power generation, now’s a great time to expand your company’s offerings by becoming a Cummins authorized dealer. To learn more visit, cummins.com/partners/dealers.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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