Natural gas for cars is not a good solution today.

Oil and energy are expensive because the supply is controlled by government regulation.  Therein lies the political opportunity for any president or presidential candidate who honestly wants to turn around the U.S. economy.  

Changing over from oil to natural gas would cost a fortune and no one would do it unless government regulations left open no other alternative.  Removing regulations from oil discovery and development would generate money on leases and fees on government lands, 90%+ of which are currently out of bounds in the Obama administration.

What you want is competition between coal, oil, gas, nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric. That would result in an American renaissance.

Advocating replacement of gasoline and diesel automobile and truck engines with natural gas engines or somehow retrofitting them is not a productive solution to America’s energy problems. The retrofit and new inftrastructure would costs hundreds of billion dollar program. What is the benefit?  Almost nothing.

Once you understand that CO2 is not pollution, there is almost nothing to gain from such a program. But the cost of such a program is huge. There is only a very limited distribution system to supply natural gas to cars and trucks. That would have to built by someone. There would need to be a hugely expensive refit on all the cars and trucks. But there is almost no benefit from all of that.

There is no shortage of gas, oil or coal in American, except the supply shortage that is created by our government.

It is true that natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline and diesel.  But not that much cleaner. Both gasoline and diesel engines as well as their fuels can still be made to run much cleaner than they do today. Cleaner means exhaust is lower in hydrocarbons.  It is not unusual for cars in Europe to get 50+ miles per gallon. The bigger problem is making the vehicles so that they stayed tuned.

In fact, gasoline made from fracking shale oil burns cleaner than the very cleanest crude oil.  In fact, gasoline from shale oil can be pumped out of the well and into the tanker truck to be delivered to the gas station. Did you get that? No refinery is needed and no transportation of crude oil to the refinery is needed either. This is where to spend the R&D dollars. Basically, the shale oil is “cracked” or refined in the well itself. Trucks can literally re-fuel and fill their tanks at the wells ready for the delivery to retail outlets.  And, by the way, methane, ethane, propane, butane, pentane and the other smaller hydrocarbons which are usually made at a refinery for various purposes, those can also be “cracked” at the well, compressed into liquids and pumped into tanks for delivery to the end-use customers. The generator to do all of this can be run by the natural gas from the well itself.  This can all be done today, but there are only one or two of these machines made so far. Covered by patents of course.  When this technology is fully developed, there will be no further need for petroleum refineries.

So, I hope you see, we are focused on the wrong energy goals, all because many people have been made to believe that (1) CO2 is pollution, when in fact it’s plant food, and (2) the “peak oil” theory that the planet is running out of gas and oil, when in fact the planet is still making gas and oil just as it always has done.

Adding ethanol is worse than doing nothing at all. Ethanol creates more real pollution than the gasoline that it is added to, plus to make the ethanol from grains uses a lot of fuel, drives up the cost of food, and at the end of the day adding ethanol to gasoline reduces the mileage of the car. Ethanol is really a subsidy to corporate farmers and certain companies.

Another negative, use of natural gas (methane) as fuel for vehicles will increase the cost of methane in the overall market, which means that it will raise the price of fertilizer (where methane is a key component) and raise the price of natural gas for home energy and where it is used for electric powerplants. Of course, the distribution infrastructure is already in place to deliver natural gas to homes, fertilizer plants and electric power plants.   

About budbromley

Life sciences executive, retired
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