It's A Gas: Ecofriendly LLC Develops Home Natural Gas Pump

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2010 Honda Civic GX natural-gas vehicle, Los Angeles, November 2010

2010 Honda Civic GX natural-gas vehicle, Los Angeles, November 2010

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Natural gas vehicles aren't particularly common on U.S. roads, and with relatively cheap and plentiful gasoline, it's fairly clear why. Pumps are few and far between and only the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas gives private buyers an option over gasoline or diesel.

If you had the chance to fill at home instead of hunting down a suitable pump, you might be more tempted. Ecofriendly LLC, run by Paul Gianakas, gives you just such an option.

Ecofriendly installs natural gas fueling stations at homes and businesses. The system compresses natural gas from your home's service line into the CNG that natural gas vehicles use. The unit has a leak detector to ensure it immediately shuts down as a safety measure.

Speaking with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Mr Gianakas revealed he believes in the technology so much that he sold his classic El Camino and Mustang to fund the business startup and now has one of his own pumps in his garage, ready to fill his Honda Civic GX.

It's also proving cheap to run. The gas is costing him about $1.15 per "gasoline gallon equivalent", and with prices knocking on the door of $4 per gallon, the home-filling looks more tempting than ever. And as electric car owners will tell you, there's a certain smugness to driving straight past every gas station.

The grass isn't completely green on the other side, though. Initial costs are high - a home pump from Ecofriendly costs between $5,000 and $7,000, so you'd have to do a lot of miles before the savings are recouped.

Then, if you want to convert your current car rather than settle for the $26,905 Civic, professional conversion can cost as much as $12,000 before any applicable government tax credits.

As for Paul Gianakas and his business partner Bob Alvin, they expect Ecofriendly to turn a profit by the end of the year, but Mr Gianakas thinks that an increase in the number of regular pumps at gas stations will help improve the market for CNG cars and for his home-filling stations.

Most natural gas for transport is still used commercially in buses and vans, but if you're interested in natural gas cars then the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas is out soon. We've driven its predecessor, the Honda Civic GX. If you didn't already know it was a natural gas-powered vehicle, you'd not know otherwise.

Would you have a CNG pump in your garage? Let us know in the comments section below.

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