Skip to comments.Why Natural Gas Vehicles Won't Decrease Oil Dependence
Posted on 02/11/2010 6:21:54 AM PST by shove_it
Natural gas is the fossil fuel du jour. At Davos, BP CEO Tony Hayward described unconventional natural gas as a 'complete game changer'. The rest of the panel agreed. In December Exxon Mobil (XOM) bought XTO Energy for $41bn to access its resource base of 45tcf (trillion cubic feet) of unconventional natty. Some see this as Exxon pivoting away from difficult to find oil into where the future fossil fuel growth will be. America is now apparently awash in a 100 year supply of nat gas. Why not use that for transport and stop the annual outflow of some $300bn out of the American economy, much of it to supposed enemies, all while creating those elusive green jobs?
Seeking Alpha author Michael Fitzsimmons has for a long time been passionately advocating natural gas as a panacea for the prospective peak oil problem. Many here agree, decrying Secretary Chu's "agnostic" stance towards its use for transport. T. Boone Pickens, in his Pickens' Plan redux, suggests that by transferring 18 wheelers and buses to natural by 2020 we could cut OPEC import dependence in half. I decided to take a quick look under the hood myself. My straw man will be that the US can stop all oil imports by 2035.
I find graphs are a powerful way to cut through the rhetoric and get down to the quantitative basics so I'll try to supply a few here.
The likely result of Pickens' plan being successful would be that by 2020 heating diesel and jet fuel would get cheaper (distillates are made with the same molecules) or else the diesel would be exported. The exposure to crude oil wouldn't change.
Are there any inaccuracies so far? Perhaps a refining expert could weigh in.
(Excerpt) Read more at seekingalpha.com ...
So what happens to home heating costs for those of us who heat with gas?
Your costs to heat your home go up.
we need to tap the huge gas reserves in PA and elsewhere....we need to tap ANWR and our costal oil reserves....we have the fuel....we need a leader who is not trying to turn Amercia into his beloved Kenya.
Natural gas liquefies around 3500 pounds where propane is about 150 PSI. The cost of liquefying natural gas uses as much energy as you liquefy. 50% efficiency is not good next to 100% with propane. Would you like a ride on a bus setting on high pressure flammable container? Why not drill for oil and make more refineries? That would be the easy out!
The new shale plays have more than adequate amounts of gas to keep nat gas prices stable in the $5-6 price range they are currently at.
The author misses the point on nat gas for vehicles. IF the diesel component is an issue, then mandate manufacturers produce x% diesel cars. That will ensure we use the diesel we refine. Clean diesel is much more efficient than gas and Audi and BMW have led the way in producing cars and suv’s which use diesel.
As for infrastructure, we should phase in the nat gas usage, concentrating first on fleet vehicles like buses. If all the buses in the US were converted to nat gas, you would save huge amounts of oil imports and would need to provide only a limited number of fueling stations.
The answer is much easier than trying to build plug in electrics which would crash our power grid, and for which huge new electrical generating capacity would be needed.
Bingo! Those domestic production graphs look real dismal.
The answer varies from market to market, depending on local supply and local demand. My hunch is that when a large new user pops into a market (e.g., a new gas-fired powerplant), the price stays flat or increases slightly.
Increasing demand for NG tenfold will make heating bills unaffordable. No thanks.
We already have CNG buses and garbage trucks here in San Diego and there have been no problems. People don’t even realize it.
I was involved in India when they started switching buses and taxi’s to CNG city by city. The impact there on pollution was dramatic going from smokey old diesels to CNG.
I’ve considered a nat gas vehicle. The problem is there are no public refueling stations near me, and a home fueling station is too expensive.
We will always need a lot of oil because almost everything we use is based on a petroleum byproduct.
Your computer keyboard, the case your computer is in, the internal parts, the plastic cell phone, your fountain pen, your closes, other than wool, Cotton and silk,etc.
Play a little game. Don't move from your chair and look around your room and count all of the the things you see that are some form of petroleum based product.
Even if our use for fuel drops, production of all of those items will grow unless we go into a barn burning depression.
Natural gas is considered "less bad" than petroleum based fuels because it releases less CO2 per unit of energy. About half as much, if I remember correctly.
I have a bi fuel vehicle that uses CNG & Gasoline. There are practical problems to using cng as the main fuel source.
First, you have to be confident enough to drive around with a tank of COMPRESSED fuel. If that thing leaks or is struck, it aint just going to spill on the ground.
Second, the CNG is less efficient than gas when you look at miles per BTU. This also translates into the CNG tank system taking up more space in the vehicle for less miles per tankful. This has something to do with how much the cng is compressed, but it’s nothing anyone would have control over to change. The mileage per btu is better by with gas than CNG.
Third, the BTU problem also translates into difficulties starting the vehicle when it’s cold out. The engine will crank literally 9 or 10 times under just chilly or damp conditions. Luckily, the bi-fuel computer in my vehicle figures this out and switches to gas when it detects this condition. (as long as you know it will do this if it cranks 10 times in a row) Then it starts on one or two cranks.
I would add the bi-fuel doesnt help much. I’ve got two fuel tanks, and little trunk space. Gas is better.
“We will always need a lot of oil because almost everything we use is based on a petroleum byproduct.”
I have seen figures that say only about 45% of our oil usage is for energy. The rest is for all of the products that are made from petroleum. Petroleum is a raw material for the chemical industry. Also for the pharmaceutical industry. etc etc etc.
:we need to tap the huge gas reserves in PA and elsewhere....”
Some have said that one big coal mine pumps enough methane into the air every day that would furnish the daily natural gas needs for Pittsburg.
Ditto. I was all in favor of an NG car until I drove one and saw the tank go half empty on a 100 mile trip.