Fill-In CNG Filling Stations

Efforts under way to boost number of locations; EIA offers map

SEAL BEACH, Calif. -- Only 992 U.S. refueling stations pump compressed natural gas, compared with about 120,000 that dispense gasoline or diesel, according to a Wall Street Journal report. And many of those CNG stations only service private fleets.

Liquefied natural gas stations are practically nonexistent outside of California, which has 35 of the 47 total U.S. stations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Efforts are under way to boost the number.

Seal Beach, Calif.-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. just struck a deal with Pilot Flying J, one of the biggest operators of truck stops in the U.S., to install LNG or CNG pumps at 150 of 450 locations in the next two years. Clean Energy already operates the largest U.S. network of refueling stations, with 273 locations that serve 25,000 natural-gas vehicles.

"You don't need thousands of stations--you need hundreds in the right places and you can cover the majority of trucks," Andrew Littlefair, chief executive officer of Clean Energy, told the newspaper.

Its idea is to create refueling stations along major truck corridors, one region at a time. The goal is to give truckers locations at which they can refuel every 250 miles. One such LNG corridor now links Long Beach, Calif., to Salt Lake City, the report said. Other companies, including gas utilities, also are building refueling stations, hoping to cultivate a new market for natural gas, amid falling sales of the fuel to homes, due to efficiency gains in appliances.

Utility owner Questar Corp. is building and refurbishing CNG stations along Interstate 15 in Utah, including some with a "fast-fill" capability that can pump the equivalent of eight gallons in less than three minutes, said the report. Two-hose islands cost $500,000 to $1 million, mostly due to the cost of compressors and high-pressure holding tanks.

Access to alternative transportation fuel stations varies across the lower 48 states, according to a separate report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Although gasoline remains by far the dominant transportation fuel, a variety of alternative fuels are currently in use, primarily by government and private fleets. These fuels include electricity, propane, higher ethanol-gasoline blends (E85), hydrogen and natural gas. In aggregate, there are currently about 10,000 alternative fuel stations in the United States, compared to gas stations, which the EIA puts at about 160,000 nationwide.

Click here to view to see maps of the different types of alternative transportation fuel stations in the lower 48 states.

See Related Content below for recent CSP Daily News coverage of La Crosse, Wis.-based conveinece/gasoline retailer Kwik Trip installing alternative fueling facilities, including CNG.