Skip to comments.Natural Gas Boom Hints At U.S. Energy Sufficiency
Posted on 07/13/2012 5:11:51 PM PDT by Hojczyk
Pilot Flying J, a big coast-to-coast chain of truck stops, is installing natural-gas pumps at 150 of its 450 fueling stations over the next two years. Now a trucker can easily carry goods across the continent in a natgas-fueled vehicle.
United Parcel Service (UPS) is adding 48 trucks to its natural-gas-fueled fleet. The tractor-trailers travel between Las Vegas and Southern California, relying partly on UPS' own fueling stations.
These steps are just snapshots of a larger revolution that is gripping the energy industry and may profoundly impact consumers and business for the better.
After decades of rising prices, hostile foreign suppliers and warnings that Americans will have to bicycle to work, the world faces the possibility of vast amounts of cheap, plentiful fuel. And the source for much of this new supply? The U.S.
"If this is true, this could be another dominant American century," said Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Advisors, money managers in Wheaton, Ill.
U.S. natural-gas production is growing 4% to 5% a year, driven by sharply higher shale gas output. Shale gas production is forecast at 7.609 trillion cubic feet this year, up 11.6% from 2011 and 12 times the 2004 level.
Challenges remain, including political hurdles. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. can achieve the holy grail of energy self-sufficiency. But economists aren't ruling out the possibility.
"This is credible," said Mike Montgomery, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight. He says that if the U.S. reaches self-sufficiency, its vast stores of natural gas will make the difference.
Natgas prices have plunged 83% since their December 2005 peak, which is why truckers are switching over their fleets. Natgas now costs far less than diesel, truckers' longtime fuel of choice.
Maybe the U.S. won't be the next Saudi Arabia.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.investors.com ...
I’m curious to learn the efficiency of natgas compared to diesel.
I think it ultimately depends on specific engine design. I believe I have seen one story (here?) about a natgas/diesel hybrid. The combustion cycle involves injection of (mostly) natgas and a very small amount of diesel (and air, of course). Under compression, the diesel provides the "ignition" for the natgas. The comment in the article was it was "the most efficient combustion cycle currently known", or words to that effect.
Anyone else seen that, or more info about it???
Natural gas has less BTUs than alcohol which has less BTUs than gasoline which has less BTUs than diesel. For the right size vehicle natural gas will not only perform well but it will also save you money. Anything we can do, reasonably, to cut down on the 9 to 12 million bbls. of oil we import each day puts us closer to castrating OPEC.
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Kind of the same concept but the chemistry is different. I'd just imagine racing aficionados are on top of this like ticks on deer ~ because there's very soon going to be an incredible amount of money made converting diesel, gasoline and even turbine engines to using natural gas.
I think it ultimately depends on specific engine design. I believe I have seen one story (here?) about a natgas/diesel hybrid. The combustion cycle involves injection of (mostly) natgas and a very small amount of diesel (and air, of course). Under compression, the diesel provides the "ignition" for the natgas. The comment in the article was it was "the most efficient combustion cycle currently known", or words to that effect."Im curious to learn the efficiency of natgas compared to diesel."
Im the one who posted that. I earned a BSME back about half a century ago, and my Internal Combustion Engines textbook described the use of Natural Gas in a diesel engine (said the application was in Alaska, where natgas was plentiful and diesel oil was locally expensive). Just as you described - the exact quote was may be the most efficient prime mover in existence. And the engine didnt have diesel knock when running on natgas.The book indicated that as long as you kept the natgas-to-air ratio lean, you could modulate the mixture enough to give you power output control. I suspected, tho, that it would also be helpful to be able to control the RPM of the engine via a transmission with plenty of gear ratios if you were going to do that. The diesel-electric locomotive, or a diesel-electric hybrid vehicle would be ideal for that.
Pretty much, Id expect any spark ignition system to run about 30% less efficient than diesel because the high compression ratio of the diesel pays off handsomely in efficiency. Back then, our spark ignition research engine in the lab maxed out at about 30%, and the diesel research engine attained about 40%. I havent kept track, but AFAIK higher efficiencies are available commercially at this late date.
But the real point is the very low cost per BTU of natgas. At present its so much cheaper than diesel oil that youll use it however you can. It even is used in place of coal in steel mills now . . .
We live in an outlying area with frequent power outages during the winter. We are converting our generator to natural gas. Our neighbors did the same a few years ago. We normally consume approximately 10 gallons of gasoline every 24 hours during a power outage. We lost power for over a week last winter... the conversion would have paid for itself in just one season.
That's not just Nevada origin parcels. What UPS is doing is hauling goods already flown, shipped by rail, or brought in by truck to Vegas for a cross-dock transfer to a truck that goes to LA. These are goods that are taxed extra special in CA and are manufactured nowhere there. Some of the material is simply 'printed goods' which includes empty boxes (packed flat for later pop up by somebody in CA).
USPS Brings in printed materials to Sparks Nevada where they are transferred to trucks going all over CA. CA has a 25 cent tax on any commercially used printed item produced in the state, and on noneditorial items, eg, catalogs of all kinds, particularly the high glossies.
This allows them to remove aromatic hydrocarbons used in the printing industry from their SIP for air quality ~ then they can run more cars!
Fed Ex probably uses the railhead at Sparks as well, but i'm pretty sure UPS is consolidated at Vegas. JC Penney used to run its mailorder final step fulfillment out of Vegas so they could skirt CA tax laws on the packages.
The use of natural gas holds out the hope that printing may return to CA as an entry level job generator.
“Natural gas has less BTUs than alcohol which has less BTUs than gasoline which has less BTUs than diesel”
First of all Natural gas is not measured in gallons since it is a gas at normal pressures and temps. It is measured in cubic ft at standard atmospheric conditions. It is however sold at CNG stations in gasoline equivalent gallons which means that amount has the same BTU content of a gallon of gasoline which as I recall is about 114, 000 BTU per gallon.
Ethanol has about 70% of the BTU content of gasoline but methanol only has about 50%.
I think that you are correct that there will be money to be made converting vehicles to CNG (compressed natural gas) if the system catches on. Electronic fuel injected vehicles are probably the easiest to convert. Like everything these days there is going to be a lot of government red tape involved. Whether it is a go or not depends largely on the taxing schemes that will inevitably follow if there are eventual large savings to consumers.
I would think that with today's sophisticated electronic sensor and electromechanical technology that ultra-precise control of the mixture should be pretty much trivial.
"But the real point is the very low cost per BTU of natgas. At present its so much cheaper than diesel oil that youll use it however you can. It even is used in place of coal in steel mills now . . . "
Indeed. Yes, that bodes ill for the coal miners, but the economics will not be denied. And I suspect the quality of the steel will go up as well.
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Can’t get natural gas if the gov’t (EPA) screws around with drilling.
Can’t get natural gas if the US signs the LOST treaty and succumbs to environmental Trojan horses and UN over regulation.
Ha, that might actually work. It has to be more effective than his “green energy” initiatives.