Were you aware that natural gas will be the driving energy in 900 of the next 1000 United States power plants? (Source: U.S. Department of Energy Website, 2008.) With alternate energy rising to the fore in all considerations of energy, will we still need natural gas next year? How about the year after? Does it serve any purpose to even consider it?
We already have an existing utility infrastructure for domestically produced and readily available natural gas. You may not be aware that it also is becoming increasingly popular as a transportation fuel.
The United States Department of Energy lets us know that its Office of Fossil Energy spends a great deal of time and resources in the research and development of the technologies in the areas of natural gas supply, delivery, reliability, and utilization. The Department of Energy uses the Strategic Center for its work with industry helping to promote and develop the technologies supporting natural gas.
The department also has the Natural Gas and Petroleum Import and Export Office. This office operates under Section three of the Natural Gas Act of 1938. Its purpose is to regulate natural gas imports and exports. It also supervises the Office of Fossil Energy’s international programs that pertain to natural gas and petroleum. In addition it maintains statistics on the natural gas trade in North America.
The U.S Department of Energy-Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Center ( is that is quite a mouthful or what?) tries to serve Alternative Fuels Vehicles (AFU’s). The office maintains that natural gas is clean-burning and produces fewer emissions than reformulated gasoline.
Storage for a vehicle will be in a tank either as compressed natural gas (cng) or cryogenically (that’s a really heavy word, but it just means that this process is being done at seriously cold temperatures) cooled to a liquid state, liquefied natural gas (lng).
I have found that thousands of these vehicles are on U.S. highways today. They are both light and heavy-duty alternative fuel vehicles. Both advanced technology vehicle and the alternative fuel vehicles come in a variety of makes and models. These vehicles run on a number of alternative fuels, natural gas being a significant one.
Under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, vehicles are considered using alternative fuels if they use either compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas.
If you compare vehicles using natural gas with those using conventional gasoline or petroleum-based diesel, you will find that those using natural gas:
“Produce significantly lower amounts of harmful emissions such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and toxic and carcinogenic pollutants as well as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.”
U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Website: http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/natural_gas_emissions.html
So, is natural gas a viable and valuable product to help us in the transition from petroleum fuel to renewable alternatives? Darn Right. Not only that, but we can save back many of the dangerous emissions which will bring more harm to the planet.
Is this worthwhile? Darn right.
We all have to do our part. The Transition will be difficult enough. Let’s use what we have responsibly.
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