The 2015 Chevrolet Impala is now available in a bi-fuel configuration that can run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or conventional gasoline fuel. But it gets more interesting than that, as the Bi-fuel Impala can also run on sewage, beer, and food scraps.
Cleveland, OH-based Quasar Energy Group has developed a method to convert organic waste into a renewable energy source known as biogas, which is the raw mixture of gases given off by the breakdown of organic materials kept in an environment lacking in oxygen. Methane gas is the resulting product, which is then processed to remove all carbon dioxide and impurities to make Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). When compressed, RNG is a direct replacement for CNG.
“If you can buy renewable fuel at $1.95 per gallon while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, everybody wins,” says the president of Quasar Energy Group, Mel Kurtz. “Quasar’s Columbus facility can produce 1.3 million gasoline gallon equivalents of CNG each year,” which is enough to fill the CNG tanks of 163,000 Bi-fuel Impalas.
Since biogas can be made from most organic materials/waste, Quasar insources waste from a variety of industries. For instance, its Renewable Energy Facility processes up to 25,000 wet tons of biosolids from the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities for wastewater.
The Impala’s CNG trunk-mounted tank holds about 7.8 gallons of compressed gas, which is expected to offer approximately 150-city mile driving range. With gasoline and compressed natural gas combined, the expected range is 500 city miles based on GM testing. (The EPA currently has weighed in with their projections.)
Impala’s bifuel system seamlessly switches to gasoline power when the CNG tank is depleted, but drivers can change fuels while driving simply by pushing a button without interruption to the vehicle’s performance. An average fuel savings of nearly $1.13 per gasoline-gallon-equivalent based can be achieved by operating on CNG. Additionally, the Bi-fuel Impala will likely have 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than your typical gasoline-powered cars, according to the California Air Resources Board.
“To avoid feelings of range anxiety common in owners of CNG-only vehicles, we made the Impala bi-fuel, allowing our customers to drive on CNG when available and on gasoline when it’s not,” says Impala chief engineer Nichole Kraatz.
The Bi-fuel Impala is factory-built so the CNG fuel system is validated by GM and covered by GM’s three-year/36,000-mile new vehicle limited bumper-to-bumper warranty and five-year/100,000-mile (whichever comes first) limited powertrain warranty. The Bi-fuel Impala is the only bi-fuel-capable sedan on the market to offer a factory warranty.
When the Bi-fuel Impala goes on sale later in 2014, it will start at $38,210.