By Bob Jamison

          I spotted Mr. Lee Love at the gasoline pumps in Dayton recently. He was pumping gas into his compact Chevrolet with a serious look on his face. Since I’ve know him many years, I yelled, “Lee, how do you like this ‘cheap’ gasoline?” He was quick to reply that it was ‘eating him alive’.

          Many of us feel the same as our friend. But what can we do about it? Not much, I assume. On the other hand, there comes an ad on national TV by the likes of T. Boone Pickens and others about the idea of CNG (compressed natural gas). They claim it’s cheaper by far and certainly is friendlier to our environment.

          I shall quickly stipulate that I know little or nothing about engines past the key switch and hopefully hearing the roar of power. So I join many of you in examining the true meaning of considering this source of alternative fuel.

          After all, only a few years past and some even currently, have elected to rearrange something that allows their vehicle to speed down the highway on LPG (liquid petroleum gas or propane). It seems to work fine but it is still a hydro carbon fuel.

          Changes are not readily acceptable for many of us, but when we consider saving maybe two dollars a gallon (equivalent) it would seem to be a logical idea to follow. Possibly some day a system of refueling vehicles with the reported abundance of natural gas produced right here at home could be ideal
Some say that the pressurized fuel tank for cars using natural gas would take too much room and leave little space for luggage. But many pickups and trucks have been seen with large propane tanks in the bed of the trucks. Or others conclude that it is possible to reduce the pressure to a lower volume and accomplish the same thing yet reduce the size of the tank. Shape is another thing; a very flat tank underneath the floor board might work well.

          Locally, many rice farmers that had deep water wells that produced a great volume for irrigation purposes often used the power of Caterpillar engines to run the huge pumps. These engines were designed to run on diesel. However, if their farm is near enough to a natural gas pipeline it was possible to engage the pipeline owner to tap the line and send natural gas through a regulator and into the converted engine. It worked.

          Of course, distance is a factor in running your car on natural gas. It was reported that due to the newness of the product use, that too few fueling depots would be available as it is estimated that the range of a full tank would only be about l50 miles. Then, for commuters, it would mean that each evening when parking in the garage, they could plug in the gas jet to their car and you are ready to drive to work in the morning. If gas is not available at your home then a facility at work could be metered with a credit card.

          Many years ago and some even today, oil field pumping units were sometimes powered by natural gas coming from the very well they were pumping. As I recall, one of these popping sounding units were called Ajax pumping units. The sound was unmistakable due to minimal cylinders and no muffler.

          An interesting idea of running a car on water is another eye popper. How it’s done, I haven’t a clue. But we all know water is made of two parts Hydrogen and one part Oxygen (H2O). Eliminate the oxygen (I assume) and you have Hydrogen, a possible flammable fuel, they say.

          Who knows, some day they might reconsider the methane gas produced by pig manure or firing up the engine with pine knots. They might even make another fuel that will take us to the moon again. If so, we can only hope that we don’t run out of gas.