Questioning the safety of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) which is increasingly being used as “clean fuel” in operating vehicles in several cities across the country, Dr MO Garg, director general of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), on Thursday said the exhaust fumes coming out of a CNG vehicle needs to be seriously studied for carcinogenic substances.
Addressing an inaugural session of the two-day “Global Green Nanotechnology Conclave 2015” organised by CII, Garg said, “Natural gas is supposed to be a clean fuel….We did a study with a professor from University of Alberta (Canada), where he developed a machine that measures the particle size and distribution of the exhaust from an IC (Internal Combustion) engine. We put this machine on (exhaust tail pipe) a natural gas-powered DTC bus in Delhi and rode around the city.”
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Garg said the real-life case study, conducted in joint collaboration between Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun and University of Alberta found “nano carbon particles” coming out of the exhaust of the CNG bus.
“You have these nano carbon particles floating around the atmosphere of Delhi. These nano carbon particles can enter straight through your nose into your lungs and can penetrate through the membranes right into your blood. They can be very rich in polynuclear aromatics which is carcinogenic. One thing the nano particle provides, is a huge surface area per unit volume,” he said at the event where Honorary Distinguished Professor at ISRO, YS Rajan was also present.
These carbon nano particles are not visible to the naked eye, unlike the exhaust fumes from a diesel vehicle, he said. “This study is kind of one-off. I have been telling the government to look at it more seriously,” said the chemical engineer while adding that a research paper has been published on this issue.
These comments from the CSIR chief comes at a time when India has a vast CNG network where close of 950 CNG dispensing stations service over 23 lakh vehicles.
“We are now trying to buy this equipment so that we can do a more systematic study (on CNG exhaust)…,” Garg said. “There are not many cities in the world, who have changed their commercial fleet to natural gas. The question is why… Look at United States which is literally floating on shale gas. Why can’t they convert all their commercial fleet to natural gas. Don’t you think they are knowledgeable enough…,” he added.