Thanks to fracking, NG is now so plentiful and cheap the existing Nuke plants can't compete for generating electricity, and neither can coal.
NG has an advantage of being usable without refining, meaning the customer cost can be close to the well head cost. The drawback is the low energy per unit volume. Even at 3-4,000 psi, it takes up five-six times as much space as gasoline. That's fine for full size pickups and larger, but pretty limiting for small cars.
Could cheap NG make electric cars more competitive? Tesla sedans are selling like hotcakes now.
I saw part of a program the other day in which they are building zero energy homes somewhere in the flatlands. At the heart of it is a piston engine generator running on NG. They capture all the energy possible from the engine, like hot water and space heating, of course, but the idea that the generator could be efficient enough to sell power back to the grid at a profit is intriguing.
The potential impact of it didn't trip my sleepy brain at the time to record the program. Do any of you know of such an engine?
Too bad you won't have any water to drink while enjoying your new power source after they destroy the water tables with the pollutants from the fracking process.
I believe Honda makes a Household gas engine cogeneration unit . It burns natural gas to generate electricity and makes use the thermal energy from combustion to heat the home.
To frack, or not to frack, like other things, I think it basically comes down to politics.
The natural gas you are describing would be CNC – Compressed Natural Gas.
It does indeed require storage pressures in the 3000 – 3500 psi range and with
a rating of 1000 btu per cu ft compared with LPG – Liquid Propane Gas at
2500 per cu ft, and LPG storage at 0 to perhaps 250 psi max made CNC non competitive.
The cost of the compressor for CNC was prohibitive, and with a rather short
compressor life the CNC stations were hard to find and usually closed when the
first compressor required repair or replacing. A few of our local gas utility
company’s trucks still indicated they were powered by it, but I have my suspicions.
When you see natural gas in the news for vehicles these days it is LNG – Liquid
Natural Gas. By cooling it to +/- 280ºF it can be stored at near atmospheric pressures.
Similar to sea going LNG tankers) and with these conditions it is close
in power to gasoline and about 80% compared to diesel. Larger trucking companies
on both sides of the border are doing extensive testing with good results when used
for carefully selected routes and distances. Factory prepared engines add a big $ sign
to costs, but savings in the operation of the engine pollution control process and fuel
mileage helps equalize things.
It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.
Note: this is not a precise technical comparison, but just some scribbling to dump
a bit of info as to why LNG may be a topic discussed at your local truck stop.