Lawson State Unveils Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Station
Only CNG Station at a community college in the Southeast
BESSEMER, AL (September 28, 2010) - The Alabama Center for Automotive Excellence at Lawson State Community College unveiled today its new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Station that has now officially added a major component to its advancement of alternate fuels technology. The on-site station will be used for educational training by current and future CNG automobile technicians to refuel alternative fuel vehicles.
“We have made another significant leap as we educate on the use of alternative fuels and vehicles. This is our way of staying on the cutting edge and keeping technicians on the cutting edge,” said Dr. Perry W. Ward, president of Lawson State Community College. “This is even more significant, because as we know it, Lawson State will be the only community college in the southeast to have its own CNG fueling station.”
Compressed natural gas is a clear, odorless and non-corrosive gas that increasingly is being used as a substitute for gasoline. It is more environmentally clean and when compared to gasoline, emits significantly fewer pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
“There are a lot of benefits to natural gas,” said Bob Strickland, CNG transportation manager for Energen Corporation. “It’s cheaper, safer, cleaner and abundant, right now there is about a 120 year supply. Because CNG burns cleaner and doesn’t have the carbon build up that reduces engine life, CNG vehicles last longer and require less frequent oil changes.”
The use of natural gas in this area plays more of a larger role than most know. “Two counties in the state are at the non-attainment air quality status due to ozone and particulate matter problems,” Strickland said. “If the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) drops the ozone standard, we could fail to meet the standards, thereby stifling economic development in the areas.”
CNG reduces foreign oil consumption because 98% of the natural gas consumed in the United States comes from North America. Alabama is recognized in the top 20% of natural gas producing states.
Estimates indicate that CNG costs about 40% less than gasoline. “In the Birmingham area, current gas prices would compare to $1.37 per equivalent gallon for CNG,” Strickland said.
“Our involvement with the alternative fuels program is a part of the college’s initiative to go green as well as reduce the dependency on foreign oil,” said Tommy Hobbs, business and industry liaison for Lawson State. “We will train entry level and existing automotive technicians in the field of alternative fuels as it relates to CNG, hybrid electric, electric, propane and ethanol.”
A compressed natural gas grant provided funding for an on-site fueling station for training vehicles and also allowed the college to purchase light duty vehicle conversion kits to be used for training current and future CNG automobile technicians. Current staff members have been able to pursue advanced CNG training for certification through the CNG grant.
“We need to start looking at alternative fuels and ways we can move it in to our daily lives. We want to make the community aware that it is available and of its benefits,” Hobbs said. It’s much safer than petroleum. CNG does not puddle on the ground, but dissipates into the air.”
A tour of the facility, located adjacent to the Milsaps Industrial Training Center on the Bessemer campus, and a fueling demonstration on a Chevy Silverado 2500 HD truck and Honda Civic followed the major announcement. The truck was bi-fuel, able to run on natural gas or gasoline, and the car was 100% CNG-dedicated.
Lawson State through its Corporate Services Division and the Alabama Center for Automotive Excellence has partnerships with General Motors, Ford, and Toyota. The faculty has participated in a number of alternative fuels training sessions offered locally and at West Virginia University through the College’s partnership in the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC).
“As alternative fuels flourish, automotive technicians will be needed to equip and maintain the fleets of tomorrow. We applaud Lawson State for its commitment to becoming a leader in alternative fuels workforce education,” said Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition.
Tom Berryman, director of the Alabama Center for Automotive Excellence, addressed the next major activity, Odyssey Day, a national event to take place locally on October 15 at Lawson State. Odyssey Day will be held at more than 100 sites across the United States and be the largest one-day event ever promoting the use of alternative fuels and energy-efficient vehicles.
About Lawson State Community College
Lawson State Community College – named as one of “America’s 50 Best Community Colleges.” (2010)
Lawson State Community College, with campuses in Birmingham and Bessemer, seeks to provide accessible, quality educational opportunities, promote economic growth, and enhance the quality of life for students. The college is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible lifelong learning opportunities in order to prepare students for employment and career advancement, or to transfer to senior institutions.