Natural gas may fuel as many as 50 million vehicles globally within 15 years, the vice president of the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles (IANGV) said this week at the organization’s world conference and exhibition in Buenos Aires, Argentina. How can this happen? Juan Carlos Fracchia said that global reserves of natural gas actually exceed those of oil and has a wider geographic distribution. He said a gas-refueling infrastructure already exists in many countries, and its combustion is the cleanest of today’s fuels. He also noted the plans of the European Community to have 10 percent of its vehicles fueled by natural gas.Fracchia said there were at present 3.5 million natural gas vehicles operating in almost 60 countries. Argentina leads the world in converting vehicles to CNG, according to the association. Currently, the country has 1.1 million natural-gas-powered cars, and more than 1,000 service stations in 18 of its 23 provinces offer CNG fill-ups. On average, 25,000 cars are being converted to natural gas fuel every month, according to the government.In other news from the conference, Isuzu announced results of a study of a new compressed natural gas diesel-cycle engine. The results show that this engine can be 75 percent cleaner than today’s diesel engines and 25 to 30 percent more energy-efficient than today’s natural gas engines.