Breathing easy

Cairo embraces CNG in a big way

Published: Sunday 30 September 2001

the use of compressed natural gas (cng) has brought some respite for Cairo. Experts say that cng has been able to drive out a haze from the city. "V ehicle conversion to the cng mode is a major factor behind a drastic reduction in Cairo's pollution. cng vehicles emit about 85 per cent less pollutants than fossil fuels," said Elhamy Naguib, public awareness manager of the Cairo Air Improvement Project (caip), which is funded by the us Agency for International Development. " cng is a fully combustible and non-sulphuric fuel that is ecofriendly," said Salah el-Hagaar, professor of mechanical engineering at the American University in Cairo.

At least 85 per cent of the vehicles converted to cng mode comprise the city's taxi fleet. Naguib said that caip was targeting the city's public transport system and has already introduced 50 cng buses. Over the past five years, Egypt has become one of the leading countries to use cng as a transport fuel. It ranks eighth among the 46 countries using cng . Other countries adopting the cng technology in a big way include Argentina, Italy, Japan and Brazil. Egypt has about 24,500 cng vehicles, while Argentina has 400,000 and Italy has 300,000. Experts say the main factor behind the success of the technology in Egypt is its cheap price -- us $0.12 per litre, which is much less compared to the gasoline prices.

Analysts say that more awareness needs to be raised about the benefits of conversion. "The government should offer incentives to private car owners such as tax or customs exemption," said Hagaar. According to experts, cng usage would also cut down the country's crude oil consumption. But the conversion programme faces a bumpy ride as some critics express apprehensions about the safety of the technology. "Such fears are unfounded," said Mahmoud Elkady, professor of mechanical engineering at al-Azhar University. "The cng kit is designed to withstand the high pressure of gas within."

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