About gaseous fuels
Gaseous fuels are fuels derived from natural gas or light gaseous hydrocarbons including compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Although only a very small number of vehicles operate on natural gas in Australia, the continued development of Australia’s abundant gas resources and the increased availability of biogas may provide opportunities for the increased uptake of this fuel in the Australian transport market.
Gaseous fuels have lower energy content than petrol or diesel, however they can potentially deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions and air quality benefits compared to conventional and petrol and diesel products. The actual level of benefits in emission reductions varies greatly depending on the gas type, fuel quality, engine technology and driving behaviour.
CNG and LNG
CNG and LNG are both forms of natural gas, or methane (CH4) which is produced either from gas wells or in conjunction with crude oil production. Whilst it is common to confuse the two varieties, the key difference is that CNG is stored as a gas at a high pressure, whereas LNG is cooled to -160 degrees Celsius which causes it to become liquid.
CNG and LNG are predominantly used in Australia in the heavy vehicle market in specialist applications such as metropolitan bus fleets, garbage trucks and line haulage, which operate on back-to-base transport routes. Currently, the availability of CNG and LNG original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicle products in Australia is limited to the heavy line haul segment. Whilst there are some CNG fuelled light passenger vehicles in operation in Australia, these vehicles are not readily available for purchase.
The use of natural gas as a transport fuel in Australia faces a number of practical impediments. While there are some home based CNG refuelling systems becoming available in the market, investment in distribution infrastructure and improvements in fuel tank technologies will be required to support CNG and LNG use in the medium term.
LPG is a naturally-occurring gas that can be produced either through the production of crude oil and natural gas or during the petroleum refining process. Australia is a net-exporter of LPG.
LPG is the generic name for mixtures of light, gaseous hydrocarbon gas, mainly propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10). Automotive LPG can be straight propane or a mixture of propane and butane.
LPG is predominantly used in the Australian light vehicle (cars and taxis) market and there is an extensive system of refuelling facilities co-located with petroleum retails sites.
For more information about gaseous fuels email TransportFuels@ret.gov.au.