As technology improves, more and more options are coming available for how we power our automobiles. One of the most popular alternative forms of fuel is that of CNG. There are more and more CNG fueling station construction projects popping up all over the country as a result. CNG, or compressed natural gas, definitely has benefits, but it’s also important to understand the different types of stations that are out there because they are not a “one-size-fits-all” station like gas stations of the past. Here are some of the different types of CNG fueling stations that exist.
If you are driving a CNG vehicle as a part of a company fleet, or your vehicle has a large tank, then you’ve likely used a time-fill station. Time-fill stations are unique in that they don’t fill vehicles from fuel stored in high pressure vessels, rather they fill directly from the compressor. The size of the compressor will depend on the size of the fleet needing to be filled each night. Typically there still is a small buffer tank used to “top off” vehicles if they come in during the day.
Depending on the size of the tank of the vehicle, it may take a few minutes to even a few hours to fill up. The main advantage of using a time-fill station is that there is less heat in the compression, so it results in a fuller fill than other types of stations. Time-fill stations are also great for vehicle fleet managers that want to control when the vehicles get filled so that it can be done during off-hours when rates for electricity may be much lower – thus maximizing affordability.
Fast-fill stations are the most common types seen out and about in a retail setting. Similar to gas stations of old, customers can drive up randomly when they need to get refilled and fast-fill stations allow them to fill up quickly. Most fast-fill stations receive their fuel from a utility line and then use an on-site compressor to get the gas to a higher pressure. Then the gas moves to storage containers that the fuel is ready for pickup.
The time it takes to fill up at a fast-fill station is about the same as a normal gas station – so around 5 minutes. Larger vehicles with larger than 20-gallon tanks will take longer to fill, and may be up to 10 minutes or more.