The push to put more compressed natural gas (CNG) into the U.S. alternative transportation fuel mix has gained momentum in recent weeks with advances in vehicle equipment, model certification and in the local political arena.

Earlier this month CNG fuel tank manufacturer Quantum Fuels Systems said it would expand its products to make assemblies for the tanks as well, promising “a dramatic weight reduction and increased storage capacity.” Separately, CNG conversion kit maker Adrian, MI-based Venchurs Vehicle Systems obtained U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification to convert model year 2013 Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks. Cleveland-based NatGasCar also got the nod from EPA for its CNG-gasoline bifuel conversions for General Motors’ 2012 and 2013 model year 4.8- and 6-liter engines.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard cited “vital national security” as reasons for signing an executive order to make his city the first in the nation to require the purchase of either CNG- or electric plug-in hybrid vehicles for nonpolice fleets. This would include converting heavy-duty fleet vehicles to CNG and purchasing nearly 500 plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles for the city’s fleets, aside from its law enforcement vehicles.

“The U.S. transportation energy model, driven by oil, exacts an enormous cost financially and in terms of strategic leverage,” said Ballard, who outlined a plan to modernize the citys fleet by 2025.

NatGasCar President Brad Trembath said EPA certifications allow his company to diversify its product portfolio and widen market access for its patented engine injection system, which is to be on Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LT crew cab pickups among others. Sales Director Joe Wray said users would be able to quickly realize cost benefits with the bifuel vehicles.

Venchurs’ newly certified CNG conversion systems would allow for both dedicated CNG and bifuel CNG-gasoline conversions on the Ford trucks. The bifuel model is offering a total range of 650 miles and “on-the-fly” switching between CNG and gasoline.

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