Location: Pantego, Texas, United States

Thursday, July 22, 2010

T. Boone Pickens would like to convert large trucks in the United States to use natural gas fuel. He probably has an ulterior motive since he is in the oil and gas business. But, he is pretty old, and already has more money than he can ever spend no matter how many more football stadiums he builds for Oklahoma State. So, he may truly have patriotic motives. In the article there are some things he doesn't mention. Natural gas has less energy per unit volume than liquid fuel, even when compressed. This is a serious drawback in a small personal automobile, but is easily manageable in a large vehicle such as an 18-wheeler or a bus (and perhaps in a large pick-up truck). Because natural gas burns so much cleaner than gasoline or diesel the engines require less maintenance and will last longer. The higher octane rating of natural gas allows the engines to be designed to about the same efficiency level as diesel fueled engines. The United States uses about 21 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually, and now has proven reserves of about 2000 trillion cubic feet, and probable reserves of 8000 trillion cubic feet. The shale gas development processes perfected in Texas are now being exported around the world, increasing the world's reserves of natural gas.

The Obama Administration is pushing the development of battery powered trucks. But these are not 18-wheelers, for which battery power is impractical. The battery powered trucks envisioned are the Fed Ex variety that make deliveries over fairly short routes within an urban environment.

Natural gas ties in with wind power for the following reason: wind power is intermittent, but people want electricity to be available on demand. Nuclear and coal-fired power plants are slow to respond to changing demand, so are not practical as backup to the wind turbine electric generators. Natural gas fired electric generating plants respond faster, so are the preferred wind power backup source.


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