Government app shows stations for natural gas, electric, hydrogen cars

HOUSTON – Finding a hydrogen refueling station was never this easy. Neither was locating an electric car charging station and a natural gas fuel pump.

The U.S. Department of Energy has released an app called the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which is available for free for Apple mobile devices through the Apple App Store.

The app allows users to select the type of alternative fuel they desire, and to find a convenient map of nearby stations. It uses data from 15,000 stations nationwide.

A previous app, spearheaded by Chesapeake Energy Corp., listed natural gas refueling stations, but the Department of Energy app offers the ability to see a variety of alternative refueling options nearby.

The app allowed me to see that the nearest hydrogen refueling station was in South Carolina, which is useless to me, but fascinating nonetheless.

I also noticed that there are no shortage of electric car charging stations nearby, and that natural gas refueling pumps are not nearly as prevalent as electric charging points.

There’s even a biodiesel refueling pump within a 13 minute drive of downtown Houston. Who knew?

Mobile apps are being increasingly championed by advocates of alternative fuels as key solutions for refueling. There doesn’t really need to be a natural gas refueling pump on every corner, the thinking goes, if most people can use a smartphone to quickly locate their nearest station.

Technology, they say, may make alternative fuels more viable solutions than they might seem, simply because not as many stations are necessary if a driver is always able to find the few that exist without much difficulty.

Follow this link to find the app in the Apple App Store. The app allows users to find nearby stations offering biodiesel, compressed natural gas, electric charging, ethanol E85, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas and propane.