Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Maintenance Facility Modification Handbook: U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

Kay Kelly, Margo Ramsden, John Gonzales, Lauren Lynch, Bob Coale, Jarrod Kohout

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


To ensure the safety of personnel and facilities, vehicle maintenance facilities are required by law and by guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Fire Code (IFC) to exhibit certain design features. They are also required to be fitted with certain fire protection equipment and devices because of the potential for fire or explosion in the event of fuel leakage or spills. All fuels have an explosion or fire potential if specific conditions are present. The hazard presented by liquid fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, results from the spillage of these liquids and subsequent ignition of vapors, causing a fire or explosion. Facilities that maintain liquid-fueled vehicles and implement appropriate safety measures are protected with ventilation systems designed to capture liquid fuel vapors at or near floor level. To minimize the potential for ignition in the event of a spill, receptacles, electrical fixtures, and hot-work operations, such as welding, are located outside of these areas. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is composed of methane with slight amounts of heavier simple hydrocarbons. Maintenance facilities that maintain CNG vehicles indoors must be protected against fire and explosion. However, the means of ensuring safety are different from those employed for liquid fuels because of the gaseous nature of methane and the fact that it is lighter than air. Because CNG is lighter than air, a release will rise to the ceiling of the maintenance facility and quickly dissipate rather than remaining at or near floor level like liquid fuel vapors. Although some of the means of protection for CNG vehicle maintenance facilities are similar to those used for liquid-fueled vehicles (ventilation and elimination of ignition sources), the types and placement of the protection equipment are different because of the behavior of the different fuels. The nature of gaseous methane may also require additional safeguards, such as combustible gas detectors and control systems, or specialized space heating, which are not needed in facilities servicing liquid-fuel vehicles. This handbook covers maintenance facilities that service CNG-fueled vehicles. Although similar requirements are mandated for liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fueled vehicles, LNG and LPG are not covered in this handbook.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages44
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-67371

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102017-4918


  • AFVs
  • alternative fuel vehicles
  • Clean Cities
  • CNG
  • compressed natural gas
  • maintenance facilities
  • safety


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