Natural gas engines: safe and clean

In order to fulfil future exhaust emission standards and fuel consumption regulations, Volkswagen focuses on natural gas engines. With the new technology, their tanks shall become safer.

Tank filler necks of Volkswagen with a connection for natural gas refuelling. Picture: VW

Combustion engines are not pushed aside yet if you want to believe experts of the automobile industry. There is a consensus among motor developers that Diesel and gasoline as propellants will remain on the market for a longer period of time, even if new alternatives like electric engines increasingly gain ground. However, some car manufacturers additionally invest in so-called bivalent solutions that can use two different fuel types as a propellant.

Most widespread in Europe are liquid gas engines, using LPG a by-product of fuel production as a propellant. LPG engines are relatively easy to realise because the accumulator pressure around the tank is relatively low; moreover, petrol tanks don’t need any or just little modifications to be operated with gas alternatively.

Especially German manufacturers increasingly focus on natural gas engines, which can be run with better performance and exhaust values but need a higher technical investment. Among other things, this is due to the pressure need for liquefying gas and filling the storage tank. The pressure required is much greater than for liquid gas.

Natural gas as a way out of the Diesel scandal

VW has a lot of experience in this sector and increasingly focuses on the topic after the Diesel scandal to meet future exhaust emission criteria. However, there were some serious accidents, even with fatalities, when rusted storage tanks of older models exploded.

VW still wants to invest in natural gas engines and has just presented a new generation of motors that have been developed primarily for this purpose. Safety concerns of customers because of the accidents are addressed in a twofold way. First, more than 6,000 vehicles with natural gas engine which already have been delivered shall get equipped with new tanks, with an exceptionally robust varnish protecting them against rust. Moreover, VW has developed new tanks for future vehicles, which are made from composite material and non-rusting.


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