Gasoline and diesel aren’t the only options when it comes to fueling a car. “Bi-fuel” vehicles are able to make use of multiple different fuel sources—typically a mixture of gasoline and natural gas—to power themselves. These cars aren’t especially common today, but even so, they still come with a few distinct advantages.
Want to know a little bit more about the merits and disadvantages of bi-fuel vehicles? Here’s a quick breakdown.
After You Become a Mechanic, You Might See That Bi-Fuel Vehicles Are Cheaper to Run
Currently, we’re in boom years for natural gas production. Companies are getting it out of the ground for a very low cost, and customers are, in turn, able to buy it for use as fuel for quite cheap. In fact, a litre of natural gas typically costs about $1 less than the same amount of gasoline.
A bi-fuel car won’t usually have a full fuel tank for natural gas. Instead, it will have a smaller cylinder in which a large amount of natural gas is compressed. Typically, the car will run on the natural gas first—which will account for a range of about 160 kilometers—and then switch to gasoline when the natural gas is depleted.
Fuel costs are always in flux, so it’s difficult to say what the price difference will be in the first years after you become a mechanic. If current trends continue, though, expect natural gas to be a more economical choice than gasoline for years to come.
Cars That Run on Compressed Natural Gas Have Lower CO2 Emissions
Some drivers who want to lower their emissions, but who don’t want to shell out a lot of money for an electric or hybrid car, are turning to cars that run on natural gas.
While burning natural gas does still lead to carbon emissions, the emissions are a good deal lower than what you see with regular gasoline. According to a recent analysis, bi-fuel cars that run on natural gas have emissions that are 20-30 percent lower than a typical car. It’s not carbon neutral, but it is better than running purely on gasoline. The range of the vehicle is also right in line with typical gasoline cars, making bi-fuel vehicles a better option for range-anxious customers than an electric car.
Auto Maintenance Technicians Might Know That Fueling Bi-Fuel Cars can Be a Problem
Students in automotive maintenance technician training might be interested to know that there are difficulties involved in owning a bi-fuel car. Specifically, the fact that it can be difficult to find a fueling station that has the option to replenish a depleted natural gas cylinder—there just aren’t that many out there. Having to do two different refuelings is already extra work, but needing to travel to specific fuel stations can be enough added hassle to prevent drivers from buying a car that runs on both gasoline and natural gas.
For that reason, bi-fuel cars might not increase in popularity anytime soon, unless fuel stations across Canada make a big push to include more natural gas refueling options. You shouldn’t expect to see too many bi-fuel cars on the road in the early years of your career.
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