Glenn, it's not just an interesting concept, it's the low cost way and about what the smart people who can think and do math will do.
What I mentioned other than the low PV prices are mostly old tech, just artificially low, highly subsidized oil, coal prices have kept them from market.
For instance a solar CSP of 3hp/2kw can supply an eff home with all it's heat and power plus some to sell in many areas. With an aux burner it can run on wood chips or most any fuel as backup. The best analog is a 3 ton home AC run as a heat engine instead of pump. Just all the 200sq' solar collector gives you 50 yrs of power for about $4k in mass production.
I'm building a wind generator that for $3k will give an eff 1500sq' home, business all the power it needs. It's more simple than a moped and at that price, very profitable.
Read the Plastics to fuel article for that method.
There is so much energy out there it isn't funny. So why are we still having wars, recessions, protecting oil dictators, international oil companies for free? Let's keep the $400B/yr military, $500B of money leaving to buy oil/trade deficit stay here making jobs, keeping us out of oil recessions?
If the repubs win and their oil/war, tax, debt policies enacted expect a depression within a yr, probably 6 months. So the smart thing is to have other energy sources that one can make themselves whether good or bad economy.
Jerry dycus; It will be interesting to see how accurate your predictions will be. A solar powered home natural gas fuel digester / generator sounds 1/2 science fiction and 1/2 survivalist. I'm not knocking you. It is an interesting concept.
Glenn, it'll be far more than a small %. By 2020 I expect 50% of the US truck and taxi fleets to switch to it. Why again is cost. By then gas, diesel will be over $10/gal in today's $.
Ng/Methane has an advantage in that one can make it in many ways from heating biomass to 1500F turning it into H2/CO, syn gas, then using a catalyst make it into methane to the higher gasolines. With higher losses into even heavier HC's.
There is digestion already used in sewage, dairy, other waste feedstocks. And many others.
The only thing you need to know about oil, diesel, gas prices is there are 4B more people wanting their share as world living standards rise. You just can't drill your way just in oil and meet that need. Even with all the other choices too if you buy from a corp, energy in the future will be high.
The only ones it won't be are those who make their own. Soon you'll see home size fuel makers that turn garbage, yard, plastics, etc into fuels and electricity. Add that to other biofuels, various solar, wind, river/tidal as one's site has will be the low cost energy sources of the rather near future. At least for the smart people. The rest will pay through the nose.
On the gas/diesel ratio it can be a fair range depending on how it's processed. For instance you here about refineries switch from summer to winter production they are making the ratio for more heating oil, less gasoline, diesel.
Us switching from diesel to NG won't effect oil, diesel prices at all. Someone else will just buy it.
The smartest thing is not to export NG because if we do the price becomes the world price which is $13-18/mmbtu/7gal oil from the $2.20/7gals/oil today. It'll also make it last longer and get us independent on transport energy.
Be smart and get an alternative fueled vehicle now before oil hits $200/bbl.
Jerry dycus; Seeing transport trucks, even a small percentage, convert to natural gas would be interesting. If natural gas is that much cheaper than diesel fuel the return on investment should be short. The only problem would be resistance to change - diesel fuel has been the standard fuel for so long. And if diesel fuel consumption dropped significantly, the prices would also have to drop. The reason that I say this is I heard years ago that each barrel of oil was split into fixed percentages of gasoline and diesel fuel. The ratio couldn't change, so as gasoline consumption dropped, diesel fuel production also dropped, and the price increased. Or maybe the oil companies will just increase the price of gasoline to compensate - as the price of gasoline goes up, the alternatives, including natural gas, will become more attractive.
We are going to Use NG for one reason, it sells for $.25/gal BTU eqivalentat the moment from my local NG dealer, People's Gas!!
I think I prefer LNG as far lower pressures.
Within a yr you'll start seeing many big trucksc switch to NG as the Flying J, other truckstops get NG in. The Feds are paying most of the cost for the installations and truch conversions with tax credits.
As for safety it's not bad especially the ones in the US.
Far better is gasoline/deisel/NG made from waste plastics it seems if I were to drive such. I beieve one should at least know how to make one's own fuel just in case.
I find my EV's quite inexpensive with running costs of 25% similar gasoline vehicles. I'll only use fuel for 100+ mile trips using a small, special DC generator to keep the batteries charged.
Propane is very expensive for some reason. Maybe there just isn't that much of it or just greed.
One can synthesize about any HC, you just lose some of the energy in the process.
As a 8 year driver of 4 separateCNG vehicles, I have to tell you that the technology arrived a while ago.
Currently, I drive a 2004 bi-fuel Chevy Cavalier. I can go 150 miles city driving or 200 miles on the freeway, in CNG mode. If I run out of CNG, the engine seamlessly switches to gasoline, and I could go maybe 300 miles or so. I typically burn gasoline for a few miles and then refuel with CNG.
In January this year, my previous Cavalier was totaled in a front end collision, while using CNG. I never smelled any natural gas. I believe the safety systems to be reasonable & adequate. Search U-tube for "CNG tank tests". I like the dynamite video the best.
I think it's a shame that so much effort is being put into electric propulsion. Despite billions in research, it's still not ready for prime-time. CNG is ready now. It's the best "Bridge" fuel we have while batteries and fuel cells work things out.
An added benefit that has not been mentioned recently is that propane as an automotive fuel would not require so much brand new technology. Propane fuel injection should be simpler than gasoline fuel injection, since it is already stored under pressure, and it does not need to be atomised since it has a much higher vapor pressure. Besides that, we have lots of propane available, and if they figure out how to liquify natural gas in a cheap and simple manner, we can get by for the next hundred years or so, without importing ANY fuel. We could save our petroleum resources for our lubrication needs, and we would be all set. In addition, the distribution network is already in place, which removes another impediment to acceptance. Also, we would not need to expand our power grid to handle all of those EV chargers. IT is a win-win-win option that we do need to consider.
Propane is probably less dangerous than Gasoline. In other parts of the world, they use propane in domestic refrigeration and also in car airconditioning systems. Without reported problems. Its greenhouse gas equivalent is also less than what is used in USA and in Mexico, because of the influence of the dollar and Dow Chemicals. So far as vehicles are concerned, the opportunities are for taxis and local bus transport in particular as they can use the limited infrastructure available. But with Shale Gas now likely to set the pace, there should be a lot more companies getting into the infrastructure/filling station act.
Another advantage of Propane is that there is good evidence that it may be synthesizable. There is a test project out there that is making methane from water, CO2, and sunlight. If they can make methane, propane wouldn't be far behind. Three distinct advantages of synthesized propane are that the supply is unlimited (capacity is an issue, but some supply will always be possible as long as the energy is there), it is carbon neutral (it takes as much CO2 to make the propane as burning it releases), and it is not an Ozone depleting or Greenhouse gas.
If the part about synthesizing it using sustainable energy can be licked, it will be a serious contender to EVs.
As for the cold tanks thing, use it to help out the car's air-conditioning or engine cooling. That would save energy.