Why I Think Natural Gas is the Logical Future of Energy

(edited)

I have been studying energy since the last "energy crisis" became an issue about eight years ago. I am not a scientist or oil expert. I began my research with an open mind. I studied every form of energy I could find. Some were "free energy", plants, trees, algae, coal seam gas, natural gas, coal, nuclear, thorium reactors, geothermal, hydro, wind, ocean wave, photovoltaic, solar to steam power etc. 

I initially focused on cellulose from plants and fast growing trees because it was immediately available to make pellets for pellet stoves. I live in corn country and even bought a corn stove to heat my old farmhouse. That was when corn was $2.00 a barrel and natural gas was at record high prices. I was also interested in cellulosic ethanol made from crop residue and other waste. 

When hydrofracking and horizontal drilling ended the "energy crisis" and "peak oil" talk, I decided that natural gas was the best answer because it was so the lowest priced and most abundant. One reason I say this is that methane hydrates in the oceans are also far more abundant than even the enormous amounts of natural gas on land. Known resources of conventional natural gas have been estimated to contain at least a hundred years. I guess we have far more than that worldwide. That does not include biogas which can be made from any plant or animal waste. Peat can also be used to make methane. There are fans of methanol also. It is probably cheaper and more abundant than corn ethanol or soybean oil for diesel but both beat gasoline for price and clean air. 

I ruled out nuclear long ago because nobody realistically analyzes the long term costs of nuclear plants and customers are already subsidizing all the old nuclear plants. I consider thorium plants a pipe dream and micro nuclear to be way too dangerous although denial runs high in the industry.

Here are some of the thousands of references in the form of live links on energy. They are all free to use and distribute. I have long since turned my attention to many other subjects. I realize that gasoline and diesel will be around a long time, as will coal. Wind and solar are clean and I hope that they become better competitors, but think that natural gas is cleaner over the lifespan. 

Part Eleven of Natural Gas News https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_QZTgxCECgIj7EItX9P6Q2J4BjsSt_nPyrDG1zAl4b0/edit

Useful References for the Natural Gas Revolution https://docs.google.com/document/d/19Yf0MWpo91vrlu-mmJtjB1ERukjJo5W41oi4RZVQBug/edit

Natural Gas Vehicles https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kM7_6rwI5iG7s1EF1RNuVmFHEGFbteRsPjjzzxx5UTA/edit These vehicles include ships, aircraft, locomotives, trucks, buses, stationary plants, turbines, and compact cars. 

Biogas https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N-TLMeHsKYBCirxS0vbqMGHpU2SmyLuCc7bqp8eYXVM/edit

Methane Hydrates https://geology.com/articles/methane-hydrates/

 

Edited by ronwagn
punctuation
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(edited)

My opinion is that this statement about the USA is in err:

Known resources of conventional natural gas have been estimated to contain at least a hundred years.

I don't think it's anything close to that. Even adding shale gas, I don't think it's true. The industry isn't earning much at all from shale gas either. Yes, sweet spots exist. Overall, not working well. If they weren't drilling so many (unprofitable) shale oil wells, nat gas would be in much better shape, as the price would rise because gas is a byproduct of drilling all those shale oil wells.

Seems to me that if nat gas was, say, $7-$10/mcf, they could make a profit and produce a lot of shale gas. It's about $3 and hasn't been good for several years. Funny thing is, if it were $7, I don't even know if it would hurt consumers very much. Sure would help get a ton a wells drilled!

Very little conventional gas wells are being drilled, it's almost all shale.

Hydrates are abundant, yes, but I dunno if it will ever be commercial due to harsh environment and technology challenges.

Like you, I do like the cleaner nature of gas.

EDIT:  BTW, most natural gas companies are also heavily into shale oil. Which means for most, a ton of debt.

Edited by BillKidd
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12 minutes ago, BillKidd said:

My opinion is that this statement about the USA is in err:

Known resources of conventional natural gas have been estimated to contain at least a hundred years.

I don't think it's anything close to that. Even adding shale gas, I don't think it's true. The industry isn't earning much at all from shale gas either. Yes, sweet spots exist. Overall, not working well. If they weren't drilling so many (unprofitable) shale oil wells, nat gas would be in much better shape, as the price would rise because gas is a byproduct of drilling all those shale oil wells.

Seems to me that if nat gas was, say, $7-$10/mcf, they could make a profit and produce a lot of shale gas. It's about $3 and hasn't been good for several years. Funny thing is, if it were $7, I don't even know if it would hurt consumers very much. Sure would help get a ton a wells drilled!

Very little conventional gas wells are being drilled, it's almost all shale.

Hydrates are abundant, yes, but I dunno if it will ever be commercial due to harsh environment and technology challenges.

Like you, I do like the cleaner nature of gas.

EDIT:  BTW, most natural gas companies are also heavily into shale oil. Which means for most, a ton of debt.

IMHO, There is probably 200 years of conventional natural gas available in the USA and around the world. Natural gas is being naturally produced as plant and animals die and return to their elements. We are all carbon based life forms. As you say, most natural gas is recovered as associated gas, not through looking for it, or for ways to produce it. 

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My questions: 

If natgas is abundant, easy to tap/trap/store/transport, clean burning/environmentally friendly, safe and low cost to the consumers, why isn't it pursued on a massive scale?

Being an engine man, I have seen many engine teardowns and the natgas engines are incredibly clean and relatively less worn out than their gas and diesel counterparts.  What am I missing here?

Add on:  From what I see here in Asia, cars and trucks can be, and are being, converted inexpensively so it would seem to follow that new cars/trucks could easily be delivered ready to go on a massive scale.  Natgas filling stations have been going up for years here in Thailand and many regular stations have islands for natgas as well.  Does Asia or at least Thailand see something we in the West do not?

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The oil companies don't want to destroy their business. Natural gas vehicles could be easily filled up at home. No retailer needed. Millions in grants were given to top universities and companies to develop home pumps that are affordable. The technology is all secret. Go to CNG prices.com to see our already ample network in the USA. http://www.cngprices.com/station_map.php

Some vehicles would need storage modifications for the tanks. The cost factor is due to artificially high government regulations. Trump could take care of that. California and anyplace with smog problems would doubly benefit. California liberals hate any fossil fuel which is ridiculous when it comes to natural gas. 

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16 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

The oil companies don't want to destroy their business. Natural gas vehicles could be easily filled up at home. No retailer needed. Millions in grants were given to top universities and companies to develop home pumps that are affordable. The technology is all secret. Go to CNG prices.com to see our already ample network in the USA. http://www.cngprices.com/station_map.php

Some vehicles would need storage modifications for the tanks. The cost factor is due to artificially high government regulations. Trump could take care of that. California and anyplace with smog problems would doubly benefit. California liberals hate any fossil fuel which is ridiculous when it comes to natural gas. 

Hadn't thought of the at home angle.  That would be real cool.  I remember growing up everybody had gas tanks outside.  Now it is provided by the town/city, underground (midwest).  Is that gas and natgas the same?  Could you theoretically just install a tap and a car-filler setup and be ready to go?

I've heard/read about the greenies not supporting it.  Do they consider it a type of surrender that may jeopardize their main cause or is just a lack of understanding?  Or do they have facts that should be discussed?

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(edited)

48 minutes ago, ronwagn said:

The oil companies don't want to destroy their business.

Do we take this to mean that profit margins on $3/gallon (for example) are better than the profit margin on LNG at lower prices?  Does the same thing apply to taxes?

What are the comparative prices?  $/gallon of gasoline vs $/(what?) of LNG.  In other words, say the average sized gasoline tank in the U.S. is 15 gallons, the average MPG is 20, and the price/gallon is $3.00 (all my figures, just for discussion purposes).  15 x 3 = $45/tank of gas.  20 x 15 = 300 miles/tank of gas.  45 / 300 = 0.15 cents/mile.

What is the comparative price for LNG?  Assuming LNG would be/is cheaper, would the profit margins and taxes generate big differences in returns?

Edited by Dan Warnick

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Back to my question about Asia knowing something we in the West don't, I just saw the following article:

Exxon Mobil bets big on China LNG, sidesteps trade war

(excerpt)

Exxon Mobil Corp is placing big bets on China’s soaring liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand, coupling multi-billion dollar production projects around the world with its first mainland storage and distribution outlet.

Its gas strategy is moving on two tracks: expanding output of the super-cooled gas in places such as Papua New Guinea and Mozambique, and creating demand for those supplies in China by opening Exxon’s first import and storage hub, according to an Exxon manager and people briefed on the company’s plans.

That combination “will guarantee us a steady outlet for lots of our LNG for decades,” said the Exxon manager who was not authorized to discuss the project and spoke on condition of anonymity. One of the company’s top policy goals this year, the manager said, is building its Chinese client roster.

“China’s natural gas demand is rising really fast, with imports soaring well over 10 percent annually at the moment because of the government gasification program and due to fast rising industrial demand, including in petrochemicals,” the Exxon manager said.

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8 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Hadn't thought of the at home angle.  That would be real cool.  I remember growing up everybody had gas tanks outside.  Now it is provided by the town/city, underground (midwest).  Is that gas and natgas the same?  Could you theoretically just install a tap and a car-filler setup and be ready to go?

I've heard/read about the greenies not supporting it.  Do they consider it a type of surrender that may jeopardize their main cause or is just a lack of understanding?  Or do they have facts that should be discussed?

The gas in large, outside, home tanks that has been used for decades in rural areas of the USA is butane or propane, not CNG.

I am not aware of the home tap idea going anywhere. Sounds good. Most homes in my region have natural gas in their homes but I don't know of a single person who has a tap. I please ignorance on this, though, as I have not kept up with it. However, I read constantly and don't recall seeing any press on this for years.

Most Greenies don't like nat gas because it is a fossil fuel; they don't like any fossil fuel. Not just due to carbon; it's also due to environmental concerns from drilling/production of tens of thousands of wells.

Aubrey McClendon, deceased ousted CEO of Chesapeake, was the champion of all things nat gas. He was the cheerleader but it never took off like it 'should' have. He committed suicide after being faced with imminent criminal charges related to the oil biz. He proposed a nationwide network of CNG stations. It got off the ground but stalled. Goal was to convert the U.S. fleet of automobiles to CNG. First up was the trucking industry. That *has* occurred to some extent. Lots of companies do use CNG. The automobile conversion idea hardly went anywhere. The circuit of CNG filling stations in the USA is, woefully, inadequate to foster widespread use. It would have to be, say, ten times (or more) more dense. Humans must have convenience or they won't embrace it.

BTW, there are some majors betting pretty large on natural gas.

As for shale gas, I think it's largely a matter of price. The Haynesville shale, Fayetteville, Marcellus, Utica, Woodford, Eagle Ford... those plays do contain a lot of gas that is not economic at $3 but would be at $7. And that's just the USA. My gosh, shale gas has to be in abundance all over the world. It's easier to coax gas molecules out of tight rock than oil. Although, it's amazing how well they have done in getting oil out of nano-millidarcy (nano-darcy?) shale.

One thing not mentioned is how heavily the industry purposely shifted from a nat gas focus to a 'liquids-rich' focus. Companies like Encana, which were mostly nat gas companies, sold off much of their nat gas leases and bought high-dollar acreage in oily plays, such as the Permian. Their claim was that it dollared up better, provided higher rates of return. I have often thought of Encana because they sold their Haynesville nat gas acreage and bought Permian. The former is, supposedly, providing decent IRR and 100% gas, and the Permian is suffering from severe price differentials due to oil transportation bottlenecks. Wonder if they are kicking themselves for that move. I think they also bought right when oil crashed in 2014.

There is a ton of gas in the Marcellus and Utica shales but they have a severe lack of pipeline capacity. That's changing, pipelines are coming online. But that will add huge amounts to the national supply, keeping a lid on prices.

BTW, most of the operators that drill for nat gas, U.S. shale, are highly leveraged, having received tons of Wall Street money to fund drilling. The actual overall rate of return is questionable, just like with oil. However, there are also some majors involved. Both ExxonMobil (XTO) and BP have active positions in the Haynesville shale and other plays. Shell was going at it but sold their Haynesville acreage. I don't know if they kept their Utica or not. Now, I see Shell talking again about loving nat gas and wonder why they sold the Haynesville! Anyway, I know for a fact that XTO and BP are making good wells. They are in a good spot and seem to know what they are doing.

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For a home set up you are looking at 8-10$K plus the cost of conversion. Due to the BTU value where NG is 30% less than gasoline the cost of NG at your house has to be low to pay for the conversion.

What I have seen on my travels across the Permian is one company, Apache, built several of these re- fueling stations and converted their fleet to CNG. These facilities are either abandoned or demolished. One over by Artesia is still there, but I never see anyone there.

If a NG producer cannot convert and establish infrastructure, with it's own built in demand, what does that say about making this equil to the established liquid delivery system.

CNG will never be accepted until Miss/Mrs. can pull in, hook it up, pump it, and the cost be less than gasoline. The cost of conversion and the perceived liability are too great. 

If one is convinced NG is the way to go, find a old 500 or 1000 gallon LPG tank with a tractor fill tube, convert a gasoline engine to LPG and fuel it yourself. But be warned, if you have to buy LPG in November to April you can be paying more than gasoline. And depending on if you can find one of these old tractor fill tanks and the conversion you are looking at $5K minimim. THEN here comes the state wanting its road use tax. And that $2,000 you pay to fill the tank.

This is why EV"s are popular. Plug it in, unplug and go. Plus your upfront cost is subsidized by the government. And Miss/Mrs. can fuel it.

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14 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Hadn't thought of the at home angle.  That would be real cool.  I remember growing up everybody had gas tanks outside.  Now it is provided by the town/city, underground (midwest).  Is that gas and natgas the same?  Could you theoretically just install a tap and a car-filler setup and be ready to go?

I've heard/read about the greenies not supporting it.  Do they consider it a type of surrender that may jeopardize their main cause or is just a lack of understanding?  Or do they have facts that should be discussed?

The outside tanks are propane and can be used in a multifuel system set up for propane and other fuels. In Europe they call propane autogas in that application. You are in the right place to find out what small pumps can be used for home fueling. Maybe you would be willing to ask around in person or online.

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1 hour ago, Curtis Stewart said:

For a home set up you are looking at 8-10$K plus the cost of conversion. Due to the BTU value where NG is 30% less than gasoline the cost of NG at your house has to be low to pay for the conversion.

What I have seen on my travels across the Permian is one company, Apache, built several of these re- fueling stations and converted their fleet to CNG. These facilities are either abandoned or demolished. One over by Artesia is still there, but I never see anyone there.

If a NG producer cannot convert and establish infrastructure, with it's own built in demand, what does that say about making this equil to the established liquid delivery system.

CNG will never be accepted until Miss/Mrs. can pull in, hook it up, pump it, and the cost be less than gasoline. The cost of conversion and the perceived liability are too great. 

If one is convinced NG is the way to go, find a old 500 or 1000 gallon LPG tank with a tractor fill tube, convert a gasoline engine to LPG and fuel it yourself. But be warned, if you have to buy LPG in November to April you can be paying more than gasoline. And depending on if you can find one of these old tractor fill tanks and the conversion you are looking at $5K minimim. THEN here comes the state wanting its road use tax. And that $2,000 you pay to fill the tank.

This is why EV"s are popular. Plug it in, unplug and go. Plus your upfront cost is subsidized by the government. And Miss/Mrs. can fuel it.

Natural gas is sold on a gasoline equivalent basis or diesel equivalent basis so there is no mpg loss, at least that is supposed to be true if the engine is set up correctly. All Los Angeles and most California buses are set up for clean natural gas. There is an ample supply of natural gas stations nationwide. Ample for those who want to use natural gas. Not for the casual person. http://www.cngprices.com/station_map.php

The first goal for CNG and LNG is to increase trucking use. If diesel prices are high that is an easy choice. Od habits do die hard but the time will come when clean natural gas will provide lower priced, cleaner fuel around the world. China,  Brazil  and other countries are leading the way on this. Brazil even has multifuel vehicles that have the option of burning alcohol, gasoline, or natural gas. 

You are not aware of all of the various ways that natural gas can be processed and used onsite. The time will come when flaring is controlled. one way or another. 

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2 hours ago, ronwagn said:

Natural gas is sold on a gasoline equivalent basis or diesel equivalent basis so there is no mpg loss, at least that is supposed to be true if the engine is set up correctly. All Los Angeles and most California buses are set up for clean natural gas. There is an ample supply of natural gas stations nationwide. Ample for those who want to use natural gas. Not for the casual person. http://www.cngprices.com/station_map.php

The first goal for CNG and LNG is to increase trucking use. If diesel prices are high that is an easy choice. Od habits do die hard but the time will come when clean natural gas will provide lower priced, cleaner fuel around the world. China,  Brazil  and other countries are leading the way on this. Brazil even has multifuel vehicles that have the option of burning alcohol, gasoline, or natural gas. 

You are not aware of all of the various ways that natural gas can be processed and used onsite. The time will come when flaring is controlled. one way or another. 

https://eneken.ieej.or.jp/data/7283.pdf

Global LNG outlook which is extremely bullish on EM, and Asian markets

https://www.ngsa.org/download/Second-Q-2018-production.pdf

US Natural Gas producers ranked. EQT is a beast.

https://www.igu.org/sites/default/files/node-document-field_file/IGU_LNG_2018_0.pdf

World LNG report showing Liquefication Capacity in the US to rival the Middle East and Australia by mid 2020's

There is also immense amounts of capital being invested in new liquefication/ports in Nikiski, Canada; Alaska, Gulf of Mexico, West Coast... basically all over. If we had a shortage of natgas supply, this kind of money would not be spent .

I think that the bottom line for lack of utilization is the fact that ICE's are fixated on gasoline and diesel, economic reasons as stated by others in the thread (crude profits and automobiles heavily focused on gas and diesel). If the infrastructure for refueling and a fleet of high efficiency vehicles were to be manufactured by major car companies, natural gas cars and trucks would have a more immediate impact on overall fleet emissions in the US vs expensive EV's becoming mainstream with short battery lifespans (3-7 years) and high cost of replacement.

Natural gas will continue to phase out coal and other fossil fuels in the next 10 years, and it fills the gaps that renewable energy currently cannot- the intermediate chemical storage issue. Solar can't provide at night, and wind power doesn't work when wind dies down.

Sempra Energy in California is working on a renewable natural gas project that collects methane from the sanitary sewer system, landfills, and livestock farms, and they have shown promising results. If we can harness all the fumes from our feces, liquefy the natural gas and use it to supplement the power grid, it is essentially carbon neutral (methane which would otherwise float to the atmosphere being recycled and burned) without the negatives from mining/recycling chemical battery waste.

https://www.shell.com.qa/en_qa/projects-and-sites/pearl-gtl.html

Shells Pearl GTL plant, turning Qatar's Natural gas, as well as atmospheric CO2 into usable hydrocarbon liquids.

Attached is the list of proposed North American liquefication ports that are pending approval. Compared to the status quo (Dominion Cove Point, Sabine Pass, Corpus Christi, Freeport, and Costa Azul in Baja California), that's quite a lot of ports......

Screen Shot 10-06-18 at 05.49 PM.PNG

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Wow!  Thanks for that.  

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1 hour ago, NatGasDude said:

https://eneken.ieej.or.jp/data/7283.pdf

Global LNG outlook which is extremely bullish on EM, and Asian markets

https://www.ngsa.org/download/Second-Q-2018-production.pdf

US Natural Gas producers ranked. EQT is a beast.

https://www.igu.org/sites/default/files/node-document-field_file/IGU_LNG_2018_0.pdf

World LNG report showing Liquefication Capacity in the US to rival the Middle East and Australia by mid 2020's

There is also immense amounts of capital being invested in new liquefication/ports in Nikiski, Canada; Alaska, Gulf of Mexico, West Coast... basically all over. If we had a shortage of natgas supply, this kind of money would not be spent .

I think that the bottom line for lack of utilization is the fact that ICE's are fixated on gasoline and diesel, economic reasons as stated by others in the thread (crude profits and automobiles heavily focused on gas and diesel). If the infrastructure for refueling and a fleet of high efficiency vehicles were to be manufactured by major car companies, natural gas cars and trucks would have a more immediate impact on overall fleet emissions in the US vs expensive EV's becoming mainstream with short battery lifespans (3-7 years) and high cost of replacement.

Natural gas will continue to phase out coal and other fossil fuels in the next 10 years, and it fills the gaps that renewable energy currently cannot- the intermediate chemical storage issue. Solar can't provide at night, and wind power doesn't work when wind dies down.

Sempra Energy in California is working on a renewable natural gas project that collects methane from the sanitary sewer system, landfills, and livestock farms, and they have shown promising results. If we can harness all the fumes from our feces, liquefy the natural gas and use it to supplement the power grid, it is essentially carbon neutral (methane which would otherwise float to the atmosphere being recycled and burned) without the negatives from mining/recycling chemical battery waste.

https://www.shell.com.qa/en_qa/projects-and-sites/pearl-gtl.html

Shells Pearl GTL plant, turning Qatar's Natural gas, as well as atmospheric CO2 into usable hydrocarbon liquids.

Attached is the list of proposed North American liquefication ports that are pending approval. Compared to the status quo (Dominion Cove Point, Sabine Pass, Corpus Christi, Freeport, and Costa Azul in Baja California), that's quite a lot of ports......

Screen Shot 10-06-18 at 05.49 PM.PNG

Many thanks to NatGasDude! I hope you can continue to contribute on this topic. The more competition among energy options the better the economy will be for the average person. May the best fuels win.Cost, smog, and abundance should all be considered.

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On 10/21/2018 at 6:38 PM, ronwagn said:

I initially focused on cellulose from plants and fast growing trees because it was immediately available to make pellets for pellet stoves. I live in corn country and even bought a corn stove to heat my old farmhouse. That was when corn was $2.00 a barrel and natural gas was at record high prices. I was also interested in cellulosic ethanol made from crop residue and other waste. 

I know a couple who work in the food industry - both Chemical Engineers \w MBA's. One works in the ethanol industry specifically.  When I asked about this, an interesting point was raised: even if there's energy available in cellulose, the land area and volume it consumes is prohibitive - and not for the reasons usually cited.  People assume the limitation is competition with food crops.  For cellulose, it's the volume of material that must be harvested and the distance it must be trucked to the refinery.  Assume you build your refinery in the exact center of your fields.  Corn, energy dense as it is, is already expensive to harvest and haul from field to refinery.  Cellulose would require several times as many harvesters and trucks moving longer distances and consuming more fuel.  Intentionally farming cellulose doesn't yet pencil out.  There may eventually achieve enabling technologies - perhaps autonomous, electric harvest/haul fleets - but we're not there yet. 

There's an exceptional case where cellulosic biomass makes sense today: waste products.  E.g. if you're already harvesting a forest, it's only marginally more expensive to collect the waste products.  Wood chips are also a far denser than fast-growing plants, reducing the harvest/haul cost.  Then there are sawmills, municipal yard waste collection facilities, and other locations where, not only is the waste already being collected, but there's a cost associated with disposing of it.  Waste products are where cellulosic fuels make sense. 

 

On 10/21/2018 at 6:38 PM, ronwagn said:

I ruled out nuclear long ago because nobody realistically analyzes the long term costs of nuclear plants and customers are already subsidizing all the old nuclear plants. I consider thorium plants a pipe dream and micro nuclear to be way too dangerous although denial runs high in the industry.

I know a little about the long-term costs of nuclear plants, but before I chime in, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. 

 

On 10/21/2018 at 9:26 PM, Dan Warnick said:

My questions: 

If natgas is abundant, easy to tap/trap/store/transport, clean burning/environmentally friendly, safe and low cost to the consumers, why isn't it pursued on a massive scale?

Being an engine man, I have seen many engine teardowns and the natgas engines are incredibly clean and relatively less worn out than their gas and diesel counterparts.  What am I missing here?

Add on:  From what I see here in Asia, cars and trucks can be, and are being, converted inexpensively so it would seem to follow that new cars/trucks could easily be delivered ready to go on a massive scale.  Natgas filling stations have been going up for years here in Thailand and many regular stations have islands for natgas as well.  Does Asia or at least Thailand see something we in the West do not? 

 

On 10/21/2018 at 9:46 PM, ronwagn said:

The oil companies don't want to destroy their business. Natural gas vehicles could be easily filled up at home. No retailer needed. Millions in grants were given to top universities and companies to develop home pumps that are affordable. The technology is all secret. Go to CNG prices.com to see our already ample network in the USA. http://www.cngprices.com/station_map.php

Some vehicles would need storage modifications for the tanks. The cost factor is due to artificially high government regulations. Trump could take care of that. California and anyplace with smog problems would doubly benefit. California liberals hate any fossil fuel which is ridiculous when it comes to natural gas. 

 

21 hours ago, Curtis Stewart said:

For a home set up you are looking at 8-10$K plus the cost of conversion. Due to the BTU value where NG is 30% less than gasoline the cost of NG at your house has to be low to pay for the conversion.

What I have seen on my travels across the Permian is one company, Apache, built several of these re- fueling stations and converted their fleet to CNG. These facilities are either abandoned or demolished. One over by Artesia is still there, but I never see anyone there.

If a NG producer cannot convert and establish infrastructure, with it's own built in demand, what does that say about making this equil to the established liquid delivery system.

CNG will never be accepted until Miss/Mrs. can pull in, hook it up, pump it, and the cost be less than gasoline. The cost of conversion and the perceived liability are too great. 

If one is convinced NG is the way to go, find a old 500 or 1000 gallon LPG tank with a tractor fill tube, convert a gasoline engine to LPG and fuel it yourself. But be warned, if you have to buy LPG in November to April you can be paying more than gasoline. And depending on if you can find one of these old tractor fill tanks and the conversion you are looking at $5K minimim. THEN here comes the state wanting its road use tax. And that $2,000 you pay to fill the tank.

This is why EV"s are popular. Plug it in, unplug and go. Plus your upfront cost is subsidized by the government. And Miss/Mrs. can fuel it.

A few things about nat gas vehicles:

1)  Nat gas engines may last longer, but in an age when car engines easily go 250k miles, commercial engines easily go 500k, and hybrid technology dramatically extends both those numbers, I don't imagine engine longevity is a cost driver.  Newer engines can also be made more durable than what we've seen, lubricants are improving, fuels are cleaner... this is a solved problem.  Exceptional cases would be commercial diesels under variable loads, which suffer thermal cycling stresses - but those are being hybridized as we speak, completely eliminating the problem. 

2)  There are two types of natural gas conversions to consider: Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).  LNG is more expensive, is a cryogenic fluid requiring specialized equipment/handling, continuously boils off, and still has lower energy density than gas/diesel.  LNG can make sense for commercial applications with extreme fuel consumption, professional operators, and limited infrastructure requirements.  E.g. ships and trains.  With sufficiently high diesel prices, it could make sense for long-haul trucks.  

CNG is a room-temperature gas - and thus safe enough for the average consumer (in theory) - but is bulky and severely limits the range of a vehicle.  CNG can make sense for municipal buses, local delivery, and other short-range, commercial vehicles.  If gas/diesel prices were sufficiently high and driving distances sufficiently short, the average consumer would consider CNG vehicles.  The US will never reach that point though; we'd do large-scale coal-to-liquids long before non-commercial CNG made sense. 

3)  What Asia et al. know that the US doesn't: nothing.  Their situation is high fuel prices, shorter driving distances, and sometimes a blank infrastructure slate on which they can build anything.  Our situation is low fuel prices, long driving distances, and a ready-made gas/diesel infrastructure.  Each region made rational decisions according to their circumstances.  When oil prices peaked in 2008, deployment of natural gas engines & infrastructure in the US began in earnest.  When prices fell, deployment immediately ceased.  As prices rise again, we're seeing deployment resume where the numbers work.  There's no mystery or conspiracy; all the equipment is available on the free market, and customers are making rational choices. 

To wit: I asked a gentleman whose business runs a fleet of commercial vehicles within a local area if he had considered CNG.  Seeing the low price of CNG and having a CNG line on his property, he had already run the numbers.  Even at $4/gallon diesel, it didn't pencil out.  CNG compressors cost $1000's, as do CNG conversions for commercial vehicles.  To make it work, you need to spread the cost of compressors over a large fleet of vehicles that run nigh constantly.  E.g. municipal buses, UPS, etc.  Even then, it's only barely economical.  San Antonio's decision to go NG may have been driven as much by high downtown pollution as by economics; the people in charge certainly weren't happy about the price tag. 

4)  How many years of NG supply do we have?  That matters less than people think it should.  The equipment we're talking about rarely lasts 50 years - 100 being right out - which means it's replaced constantly on a rolling basis.  Demand is also flexible, large fleet operators having the ability to run equipment at higher or lower capacity factors as margins dictate.  Now consider the scenario where prices spike and, despite this financial incentive, producers are unable to find more reserves.  Farfetched, I know, but let's roll with it.  Electric utilities will immediately place NG plants on standby in favor of coal & nuclear, reducing demand.  Truck/train/ship operators will switch their vehicles to the lowest-mileage routes available, assuming they don't idle or convert them.  The immediate price spike will be alleviated.  New orders of NG vehicles will also cease.  NG supplies will slowly dwindle as existing wells expire and existing reserves are depleted.  This graceful decline of supply will closely match the graceful decline of demand that results from the rolling replacement of equipment.  There will be no crisis.  Life went on before NG, and it will go on after NG. 

Put simply: when you find $100 on the sidewalk, you don't question how many times you'll find $100.  You just pick it up.

Put moralistically:  Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Put sarcastically:

image.png.75ac3c84aeeb707a6eff6f7b42ef62d3.png

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4 hours ago, mthebold said:

Put sarcastically:

image.png.75ac3c84aeeb707a6eff6f7b42ef62d3.png

Thanks.  I miss Calvin.

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Any thoughts on why Brent, WTI AND natural gas all went up in price together last week,,, more specifically Why oil has fallen but the gas price is still up around 3.25?

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1 hour ago, Mike Marcellus said:

Any thoughts on why Brent, WTI AND natural gas all went up in price together last week,,, more specifically Why oil has fallen but the gas price is still up around 3.25?

We are entering the natural gas heating season in the Northern Hemisphere. I don't know why Brent but oil just dropped. 

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6 hours ago, mthebold said:

I know a couple who work in the food industry - both Chemical Engineers \w MBA's. One works in the ethanol industry specifically.  When I asked about this, an interesting point was raised: even if there's energy available in cellulose, the land area and volume it consumes is prohibitive - and not for the reasons usually cited.  People assume the limitation is competition with food crops.  For cellulose, it's the volume of material that must be harvested and the distance it must be trucked to the refinery.  Assume you build your refinery in the exact center of your fields.  Corn, energy dense as it is, is already expensive to harvest and haul from field to refinery.  Cellulose would require several times as many harvesters and trucks moving longer distances and consuming more fuel.  Intentionally farming cellulose doesn't yet pencil out.  There may eventually achieve enabling technologies - perhaps autonomous, electric harvest/haul fleets - but we're not there yet. 

There's an exceptional case where cellulosic biomass makes sense today: waste products.  E.g. if you're already harvesting a forest, it's only marginally more expensive to collect the waste products.  Wood chips are also a far denser than fast-growing plants, reducing the harvest/haul cost.  Then there are sawmills, municipal yard waste collection facilities, and other locations where, not only is the waste already being collected, but there's a cost associated with disposing of it.  Waste products are where cellulosic fuels make sense. 

 

I know a little about the long-term costs of nuclear plants, but before I chime in, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. 

 

 

 

A few things about nat gas vehicles:

1)  Nat gas engines may last longer, but in an age when car engines easily go 250k miles, commercial engines easily go 500k, and hybrid technology dramatically extends both those numbers, I don't imagine engine longevity is a cost driver.  Newer engines can also be made more durable than what we've seen, lubricants are improving, fuels are cleaner... this is a solved problem.  Exceptional cases would be commercial diesels under variable loads, which suffer thermal cycling stresses - but those are being hybridized as we speak, completely eliminating the problem. 

2)  There are two types of natural gas conversions to consider: Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).  LNG is more expensive, is a cryogenic fluid requiring specialized equipment/handling, continuously boils off, and still has lower energy density than gas/diesel.  LNG can make sense for commercial applications with extreme fuel consumption, professional operators, and limited infrastructure requirements.  E.g. ships and trains.  With sufficiently high diesel prices, it could make sense for long-haul trucks.  

CNG is a room-temperature gas - and thus safe enough for the average consumer (in theory) - but is bulky and severely limits the range of a vehicle.  CNG can make sense for municipal buses, local delivery, and other short-range, commercial vehicles.  If gas/diesel prices were sufficiently high and driving distances sufficiently short, the average consumer would consider CNG vehicles.  The US will never reach that point though; we'd do large-scale coal-to-liquids long before non-commercial CNG made sense. 

3)  What Asia et al. know that the US doesn't: nothing.  Their situation is high fuel prices, shorter driving distances, and sometimes a blank infrastructure slate on which they can build anything.  Our situation is low fuel prices, long driving distances, and a ready-made gas/diesel infrastructure.  Each region made rational decisions according to their circumstances.  When oil prices peaked in 2008, deployment of natural gas engines & infrastructure in the US began in earnest.  When prices fell, deployment immediately ceased.  As prices rise again, we're seeing deployment resume where the numbers work.  There's no mystery or conspiracy; all the equipment is available on the free market, and customers are making rational choices. 

To wit: I asked a gentleman whose business runs a fleet of commercial vehicles within a local area if he had considered CNG.  Seeing the low price of CNG and having a CNG line on his property, he had already run the numbers.  Even at $4/gallon diesel, it didn't pencil out.  CNG compressors cost $1000's, as do CNG conversions for commercial vehicles.  To make it work, you need to spread the cost of compressors over a large fleet of vehicles that run nigh constantly.  E.g. municipal buses, UPS, etc.  Even then, it's only barely economical.  San Antonio's decision to go NG may have been driven as much by high downtown pollution as by economics; the people in charge certainly weren't happy about the price tag. 

4)  How many years of NG supply do we have?  That matters less than people think it should.  The equipment we're talking about rarely lasts 50 years - 100 being right out - which means it's replaced constantly on a rolling basis.  Demand is also flexible, large fleet operators having the ability to run equipment at higher or lower capacity factors as margins dictate.  Now consider the scenario where prices spike and, despite this financial incentive, producers are unable to find more reserves.  Farfetched, I know, but let's roll with it.  Electric utilities will immediately place NG plants on standby in favor of coal & nuclear, reducing demand.  Truck/train/ship operators will switch their vehicles to the lowest-mileage routes available, assuming they don't idle or convert them.  The immediate price spike will be alleviated.  New orders of NG vehicles will also cease.  NG supplies will slowly dwindle as existing wells expire and existing reserves are depleted.  This graceful decline of supply will closely match the graceful decline of demand that results from the rolling replacement of equipment.  There will be no crisis.  Life went on before NG, and it will go on after NG. 

Put simply: when you find $100 on the sidewalk, you don't question how many times you'll find $100.  You just pick it up.

Put moralistically:  Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Put sarcastically:

image.png.75ac3c84aeeb707a6eff6f7b42ef62d3.png

I can't disagree with much in your analysis of natural gas. I started studying energy eight years ago and decided that natural gas was far better than coal or any other competitor at the time. Fracking and horizontal drilling etc. changed all that and obviated the absolute need for change. Pollution in large cities could be greatly alleviated by using natural gas, however. 

Natural gas and ethanol are natural competitors of gasoline and diesel. They will always help prevent runaway pricing over long periods of time. My understanding is that the first automobiles ran on ethanol, and some were electric. Not to mention those Stanley Steamers burning whatever. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_car Some enthusiasts use wood gas to create fuel for ICEs. 

You did not mention multifuel engines as are commonly used in Brazil. Some can use ethanol, gasolinte, or natural gas. We can use E-85 in many American cars and I do whenever possible. Fueling stations can now provide percentages as desired by the consumer and they are becoming more common in corn country where I live.

When corn is used to make ethanol the remaining portion of the corn is a high protein animal feed which is very valuable and which we eat second hand. Ethanol is a cleaner fuel than gasoline or diesel but not quite as powerful per volume. 

Pollution rules out coal as an ideal fuel IMO. The coal ash is very difficult to store safely and contains dangerous levels of mercury and other pollutants. We will always have it as a resource though. I really do not know all the possible filtering techniques for the smokestacks but my understanding is that we do not have as much filtering as Japan. Nor do I know how much anthracite coal is left in the USA. It is a quality fuel, but not what is used in most places. 

Wood or other cellulose pellets are a good option for home heating in rural areas.

Nuclear is just not financially competitive in advanced nations due to our regulations and public sentiment. They cost too much to build and take too long.They cost way to much to tear down and to clean up the plant site. The old plants are White Elephants that the taxpayers end up supporting way beyond their intended lifespan. The nuclear industry has powerful political connections that ensure the public will pay the bills. This is being proven all over the USA. That does not even include the thousands of years the public will pay (if we survive that long) to store the radioactive waste. I have accumulated a lot of stories about nuclear plants and their dilemmas at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Jp7yumkT6T1tEAdC4jb1K6LvO45rtoHwFbRcl08rrS4/edit

 

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3 hours ago, ronwagn said:

You did not mention multifuel engines as are commonly used in Brazil. Some can use ethanol, gasolinte, or natural gas. We can use E-85 in many American cars and I do whenever possible. Fueling stations can now provide percentages as desired by the consumer and they are becoming more common in corn country where I live.   

ICE's are geometrically optimized for specific fuels  If you design one to burn everything, it's optimally efficient on nothing.  If you need fuel flexibility, then an E85 capable engine makes sense.  Otherwise, it's just more expensive to operate. 

A better option might be to increase fuel octane ratings through increased ethanol content.  Higher octane fuels allow more efficient engines, which might offset the lower energy density of ethanol.  However we implement it, evenly blending ethanol into the fuel supply and designing engines around that is a more optimal solution than flex-fuel vehicles. 

 

3 hours ago, ronwagn said:

Nuclear is just not financially competitive in advanced nations due to our regulations and public sentiment. They cost too much to build and take too long.They cost way to much to tear down and to clean up the plant site. The old plants are White Elephants that the taxpayers end up supporting way beyond their intended lifespan. The nuclear industry has powerful political connections that ensure the public will pay the bills. This is being proven all over the USA. That does not even include the thousands of years the public will pay (if we survive that long) to store the radioactive waste. I have accumulated a lot of stories about nuclear plants and their dilemmas at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Jp7yumkT6T1tEAdC4jb1K6LvO45rtoHwFbRcl08rrS4/edit

I think the keys here are regulation and public sentiment.  Under sufficient economic duress, those would change. 

Complaints about the radioactive waste are bogus.  The rest of the world reprocesses fuel; we don't because Jimmy Carter, in what appears to be a moment of stupidity, outlawed it.  Instead, the nuclear industry paid a per kWh stipend to the government to handle long-term storage.  The government took the money, but has failed to deliver a solution.  In short, we'd have no radioactive waste problem were it not for the government. 

It's also important to remember that today's reactors are a crude, first attempt at nuclear power.  Their burn up rates are low, leaving behind most of the fuel.  Were the nuclear industry allowed to develop naturally, designs would have progressed.  Again, government interference wrecked this. 

I don't know how nuclear site clean up is handled, but given what the government put these companies through, I wouldn't blame them for passing costs onto the public. 

4 hours ago, ronwagn said:

Pollution rules out coal as an ideal fuel IMO. The coal ash is very difficult to store safely and contains dangerous levels of mercury and other pollutants. We will always have it as a resource though. I really do not know all the possible filtering techniques for the smokestacks but my understanding is that we do not have as much filtering as Japan. Nor do I know how much anthracite coal is left in the USA. It is a quality fuel, but not what is used in most places. 
 

I'll have to look into coal ash cleanup more; not sure if there's a safe disposal option. 

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(edited)

PB, I do not know much about engines but my information led me to believe that computer chips modified the way the fuel burns and essentially overcame the fuel variation issues. 

Edited by ronwagn
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17 hours ago, Mike Marcellus said:

Thanks.  I miss Calvin.

The world always needs more Calvin! 

9 hours ago, ronwagn said:

PB, I do not know much about engines but my information led me to believe that computer chips modified the way the fuel burns and essentially overcame the fuel variation issues. 

Compression ratio is based on the geometry of the engine - not the timing of operations.  This means that, while engine computers can optimize operation of a given engine on a given fuel, they can't vary compression ratios*.

Why does compression ratio matter?  The higher you compress your fuel/air mixture, the more efficient your engine can be.  Unfortunately, compressing a fuel/air mixture heats it up.  Compress/heat it too much, and it spontaneously detonates - which is bad.  This is why fuel octane matters: the higher a fuel's "octane rating", the more you can compress it.  Cars that require 93 octane are more powerful/efficient because they can operate at temperatures/compression ratios that 89 octane fuel cannot. 

Europe, because of its dependence on oil imports and high fuel prices, implemented a 95 octane fuel to improve fleet-wide efficiency.  Imagine reducing fuel use by 3-5% just by upgrading your fuel; that's what high-octane can do.  Switch to avgas (100 octane) pure ethanol (113 octane, unfortunately offset by lower energy density), or natural gas (130 octane, again with lower energy density), and the savings are even greater.  Unfortunately, you only get the savings if your engine geometry is designed for it.  If you use high octane fuel in a low octane engine, you're just wasting money. 

Some other possibilities, in case you were curious: diesel engines circumvent this problem by injecting fuel after compression and letting the heat of compression detonate it.  Hence, "compression ignition engine".  The main reason diesels are so efficient is the incredibly high compression ratio this enables.  Unfortunately, injecting fuel after compression means it must mix with the air mid-combustion, which slows down the process.  This effect reduces diesel efficiency at high engine rpm.  One way to circumvent it is to pre-mix natural gas (won't pre-detonate even at diesel compression ratios) and then inject a little diesel to ignite it.  You get direct-injection compression ratios with pre-mix combustion speeds - the best of both worlds.  Guys who want an extra 50-100 horsepower out of their diesel trucks will retrofit this; it works fantastically. 

So there it is: engines are complicated, and there are many variables we could exploit at the right price.  Despite 100+ years of development, the ICE has remaining potential. 

 

*There's now one exception: Infiniti makes the only variable compression ratio engine on the market, and that's brand new.  As yet, no other company has plans to follow them. 

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A lot of very good points being portrayed here. A common theme with all of the solutions is the lack of infrastructure for CNG refueling, lack of mainstream mass manufactured dual fuel engines (gasoline/CNG, and diesel CNG).

 

Countries like Brazil have widespread access to tri fuel vehicles, and a large market for conversion kits with computer controlled fuel mixture as have been mentioned by other posters. CNG would provide lean burn/low torque cruising power, and gasoline provides the higher torque instant acceleration demand, and these systems could be optimized by car manufacturers, flaunting their emissions quality and low fuel cost as selling points. Environmentalists' demonization of all fossil fuel sources hurts our fight against pollution, because it makes the market want to hop over the logical phase of CNG passenger/LNG freight, and go straight to electric vehicles. Total fleet emissions could be much lower if the mass implementation of CNG had taken place rather than the push for EV and hybrids. I firmly believe that capacitor and battery technology need a significant advance before making EV an industry wide solution, especially for those who intend on owning vehicles for more than 5 years. Vehicle disposal and ownership length is a separate issue that creates waste and costs which mass EV ownership would exacerbate because of the short lifespan of batteries vs. fossil fuel powered vehicle hardware.

 

Chemical fuel sources and internal combustion engines will continue to fill the void that EV's cannot, especially in terms of engine longevity/maintenance, and convenience of range extension. There is plenty of room in the market to expand CNG recharging infrastructure (plenty of gas lines across the US...just need mass produced CNG vehicles to feed,it is even possible to do so from home for those with gas access. A valve recharging system can easily be designed to refuel CNG vehicles from home....) Especially with natural gas prices being so inexpensive in the US, and natural gas being a byproduct of crude oil extraction, we need to get the most value possible from it, rather than demonize it as an evil and dirty fossil fuel.  Natural gas implementation is already cleaning the air in China as they try to phase out coal power with methane power.

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5 hours ago, NatGasDude said:

A lot of very good points being portrayed here. A common theme with all of the solutions is the lack of infrastructure for CNG refueling, lack of mainstream mass manufactured dual fuel engines (gasoline/CNG, and diesel CNG).

 

Countries like Brazil have widespread access to tri fuel vehicles, and a large market for conversion kits with computer controlled fuel mixture as have been mentioned by other posters. CNG would provide lean burn/low torque cruising power, and gasoline provides the higher torque instant acceleration demand, and these systems could be optimized by car manufacturers, flaunting their emissions quality and low fuel cost as selling points. Environmentalists' demonization of all fossil fuel sources hurts our fight against pollution, because it makes the market want to hop over the logical phase of CNG passenger/LNG freight, and go straight to electric vehicles. Total fleet emissions could be much lower if the mass implementation of CNG had taken place rather than the push for EV and hybrids. I firmly believe that capacitor and battery technology need a significant advance before making EV an industry wide solution, especially for those who intend on owning vehicles for more than 5 years. Vehicle disposal and ownership length is a separate issue that creates waste and costs which mass EV ownership would exacerbate because of the short lifespan of batteries vs. fossil fuel powered vehicle hardware.

 

Chemical fuel sources and internal combustion engines will continue to fill the void that EV's cannot, especially in terms of engine longevity/maintenance, and convenience of range extension. There is plenty of room in the market to expand CNG recharging infrastructure (plenty of gas lines across the US...just need mass produced CNG vehicles to feed,it is even possible to do so from home for those with gas access. A valve recharging system can easily be designed to refuel CNG vehicles from home....) Especially with natural gas prices being so inexpensive in the US, and natural gas being a byproduct of crude oil extraction, we need to get the most value possible from it, rather than demonize it as an evil and dirty fossil fuel.  Natural gas implementation is already cleaning the air in China as they try to phase out coal power with methane power.

Millions were given to top universities to develop low priced home CNG pumps. No information was ever released Texas A&M was one of the recipients. Another recipient was a large pump manufacturer. I cannot find anything by searching the web. Maybe someone here knows who to contact for information. I think that China probably has appropriate pumps, or maybe Brazil. There are more than one manufacturers in America. but I think they were over $2,000 whereas the price point aimed for was only $500. 

Here is a site for anyone who wants to know more about CNG vehicles and pumps etc. It is the best chat site on the subject. http://www.cngchat.com

Edited by ronwagn
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