Compressed gas to power public transport with less pollution


By Alice Johnson

Public transport will soon run on compressed natural gas (CNG), which will cut carbon emissions by 70 per cent per vehicle.

Compressed gas“All the authority vehicles, all the buses, all the taxis will be on gas; on a dual system,” Hesham Ali Mustafa, General Manager, Emirates Gas, told Gulf Newson Tuesday.

According to Mustafa, vehicles using a dual system utilise CNG and petrol/diesel, as well as a battery, making it the most efficient system. A switch inside converted cars allows drivers to switch from gas to petrol and vice-versa.

“So the vehicle has the computer built in to choose what is most economical… this is what you’re going to see in Dubai very soon,” Mustafa said.

Eisa Al Dossary, CEO of the Public Transport Agency, a division of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), told Gulf News on Tuesday that the project is still under discussion. The RTA has requested technical specifications and has indicated that it is open to environmentally-friendly options. The agency already uses environmentally-friendly engines (50ppm) in buses. “It will take some time to develop, as the infrastructure is not there currently,” he said.

An official at RTA confirmed that a pilot project will be conducted on taxis to analyse the feasibility of converting the entire fleet. The plan, however, is not final until the results of the test have been analysed.

The results of a previous trial into using hybrid vehicles as taxis will also be analysed soon, the official added. Mustafa said natural gas points will be introduced at all fuel stations.

Robust plans

“We have a very robust plan in how we’re going to introduce the CNG infrastructure in Dubai.”

The first phase will concentrate on depots for Dubai Municipality, taxis and the RTA. The second phase will focus on introducing it in the community. It will unveil awareness programmes for the public to encourage them to convert their vehicles “by showing them [the] financial incentives [of doing so],” he said.

Generally, CNG is 30 per cent cheaper than conventional fuel. The cost of a 65-litre CNG cylinder is between Dh12-Dh15 and over a range of 150-160km. This means that at a distance of over 400km, one vehicle would yield savings of Dh30 when compared to the use of petrol.

He said Emirates Gas is currently in discussions with the government over when the specific phases will be rolled out, but added that an announcement was likely to be made in forthcoming months.

Mustafa was speaking at the Dubai Municipality launch of the first phase of its pilot scheme, in which five vehicles have been converted to CNG to reduce emissions and cut fuel costs.

—With inputs from Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter

  • 70%- reduction in carbon emission
  • Dh12 – gas cylinder price
  • 438 – Municipality vehicles to be converted

Green fuel: What is CNG?

Compressed natural gas (CNG) is an alternative fuel for motor vehicles. It is considered one of the cleanest sources of energy because of low hydrocarbon emissions. However, it does emit significant quantities of nitrogen oxides. Vehicles using CNG or liquid natural gas are known as NGVs (natural gas vehicles).