Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

This auto rickshaw in Delhi is powered by natural gas.

Last January, for the first time, more cars were sold in China than in the United States. India’s vehicle fleet is growing at a rate of 7 to 10 percent per year. Instead of attempting to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions with expensive technologies such as electric vehicles, low-income countries in the Asia-Pacific region are focused on improving existing internal-combustion engines.

Converting cars to run on natural gas is an increasingly popular option. Of the 9.6 million natural-gas-fueled vehicles worldwide, 52 percent are in Asia-Pacific countries, with two million in Pakistan alone. A factory-built natural-gas vehicle can achieve reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as great as 25 percent, but most of the cars running on natural gas in this region are not quite as clean, because they have been converted from gasoline using after-market kits. Still, these converted vehicles emit half as much nitrous oxide as gasoline-fueled vehicles and three-quarters as much carbon monoxide. Conversion kits cost between $850 and $2,500, but conversion reduces driving costs because natural gas is cheaper than gasoline or diesel. The number of natural-gas vehicles has been growing at an annual rate of 40 percent over the last five years, according to the Asia Pacific Natural Gas Vehicles Association.

Asia is also home to more than 50 million vehicles powered by two-stroke engines, such as motorcycles and taxis. Per mile, each one produces as much in hydrocarbon and particulate emissions as 30 to 50 modern four-stroke automobiles, according to Bryan Willson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State University. The nonprofit Envirofit has developed a $300 fuel-injection kit that increases fuel efficiency by 35 percent and reduces hydrocarbon emissions by 89 percent. Owners can purchase the kit with microloans, and reduced fuel bills mean it pays for itself in six months.

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images

Tagged: Energy

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me