Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dubai Municipality makes green wheels shift

23 Feb 2011, The Gulf Today

VEHICLES belonging to Dubai Municipality (DM) will soon hit the roads powered by natural gas. This move is expected once all the phases of the civic body’s comprehensive plan is completed to switch to a fuel that causes less negative impact on the environment. 
Aimed at reducing the CO2 emissions from vehicles, the municipality on Tuesday launched the first phase of its project converting five of its vehicles to natural gas usage.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of the DM, said the initiative will achieve significant environmental benefits by reducing the rate of carbon emissions by 70 per cent in each vehicle when using natural gas.
“The project will be implemented in several stages. During the second phase, commercial vehicles and medium-sized vehicles such as pickups, numbering around 438 vehicles, will be included, provided that natural gas is available through our partners,” he added.
Lootah pointed out that the project entails economic benefits — achieving around Dhs2.3m a year in estimated fuel savings in the event of 400 vehicles taking to the new fuel.
“The DM has become the first government body in the Emirate in converting its vehicles to natural gas. The initiative will preserve the environment by reducing the negative impacts of the traditional fuel used in vehicles,” he added.
Humaid Al Marri, director of Transportation Department at the DM, vouching for natural gas, said it is lighter than air and in case of leakage it is vapourised in the atmosphere, emphasising that it is non-toxic. 
“The conversion of the vehicles to natural gas, require approvals to be obtained from authorities concerned. The components and elements of technical parts will be used according to the technical specifications and requirements of the transportation,” he added.
According to Al Marri, the natural gas is widely used currently in major countries as it is one of the environmentally-friendly resources.
“The total number of vehicles operating with natural gas around the world amounts to more than three million vehicles in as many as 60 countries. Some of the manufacturers of vehicles have begun manufacturing vehicles that operate on natural gas as it is most abundant and widespread than crude oil,” he elaborated.
“The use of natural gas is considered one of the most secure sources to use as this system was tested by the approved bodies for leakage of gas and strong frame with standard specifications will be placed around the gas cylinder for its protection in the event of any accident,” he noted.
Al Marri continued, “The screw valve on the cylinder closes automatically in the case of pressure becoming lower than the specified level as a result of any leak within the system. In the case of an accident it opens automatically like a repellent gas valve and as a safety gas evaporates in the atmosphere.”
“The gas cylinders can withstand pressure up to 350 lb/inch as the operating pressure is 220 lb/inch,” he concluded.