Published on January 30th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown
Iran: Natural Gas Truck Explodes During Refuel
In Iran, a man was refueling his truck with natural gas, and all of a sudden it detonated. It was blown to bits inches away from him, showcasing why adoption of CNG is a slower, and more regulated process in the U.S.
The Iranian government has chosen to invest heavily in natural gas fuel for transportation because of oil sanctions that were imposed on the country. They need to get behind all the domestic fuels to reduce their oil usage as much as possible.
Why would a natural gas pickup truck would explode so violently? Automobiles that operate on natural gas usually store it compressed in a tank. This is called CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), which is still in gas form. CNG is not to be confused with LNG, which is liquefied natural gas, which is far more dense, is stored at higher pressures, and was produced via cryogenic cooling, rather than compression, like CNG is.
Due to the fact that these tanks contain CNG at an immense pressure of 200-248 bar (2900-3600 psi), natural gas explodes violently when ignited because there is so much potential energy ready to explode crammed into a little tank. This is why high-pressure explosions are the worst, because compressed tanks of gas literally contain more fuel, and hence more energy than uncompressed ones. What exactly happened in this case we don’t know, though the man can be seen lunging for the CNG pump just a moment before it explodes. He’s lucky to have escaped with his life!
We are not going to say “this is why you should not use natural gas”, because natural gas vehicles have a good safety record, as well as lower emissions compared to gasoline. Some of the most dangerous things can have a great safety record when properly regulated and all the necessary precautions are taken to ensure that they don’t explode. Still, it just goes to show that there is no perfect solution when it comes to alternative fuels.
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