The future of clean fuel
September 2, 2008
There is a quantum leap about to take place in the development of clean fuel thanks to the “big oil titans” of today.
The political talk of today is filled with should we drill or not drill off-shore or inland to rid the United States’ dependency on foreign oil. Also the headlines are filled with talk of solar, wind and ethanol as alternative sources of energy. And at the same time the oil and gas industry are investing billions of dollars that natural gas and its liquefied counterpart will replace gas from oil as the future fuel for the transportation industry. Experts see natural gas as the only economically feasible way to build a new, cleaner, less-polluting transportation industry.
Here is how. Hydrogen engines run on fuel developed from natural gas more cheaply than currently available supplies from fossil fuels. Natural gas contains only one part carbon and four parts hydrogen atoms per molecule, meaning that natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuels. Through a process called “steam reformation” carbon is separated from the hydrogen.
There are more than 14,000 vehicles in the United States that run on natural gas today. The fuel for these vehicles is provided by more than 170 stations in North America. G.M. and Clean Energy Fuels provide the natural gas for these stations. G.M. and Honda have recommend building clusters of hydrogen-fueling stations, first in Los Angeles and New York and adding new stations in major urban centers. The first of these stations will be built later this year in L.A.
Reps. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) introduced a bill that aims to have 10 percent of all vehicles in the United States be powered by natural gas by the year 2018. T. Boone Pickens favors natural gas as a way to alleviate the transportation sector’s dependence on oil. Warren Buffet’s Mid-America Energy purchased the Kern River pipeline in 2002, a major player in the transportation of natural gas.
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In the United States the capacity of pipelines exporting natural gas produced in the Rocky Mountains to market rose by more than 45 percent between 2001 and 2006. Several transcontinental pipelines connecting U.S. markets with natural gas fields in Canada are under construction, the most ambitious of which is the 3,600-mile Alaskan pipeline.
On the international scene we find the following: Royal Dutch Shell and Qatar Petroleum have partnered in new Qatar-based projects. Shell will spend more than $20 billion developing liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Russia. Statoil will spend $10 billion building a LNG plant in Stavanger, Norway (considered to be the Houston of that nation). Chevron is developing natural gas fields in Australia. Exxon is developing natural gas fields in Russia, Nigeria and Qatar.
The scary irony in all of this is that a small number of countries ” Russia, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia ” control the vast majority of the world’s natural gas reserves. The world will soon face having to deal with a “natural gas cartel.”
Harry Temple III