Natural Gas to hydrates for transport and back to gas

A while back I wrote a post HERE and HERE on collecting natural gas hydrates from the sea floor.  I was not really in favor of the idea because of the possible/probable dangers.  For good or bad like drilling at 5000ft for oil, extracting these frozen naturals gasses is going to happen so might as well examine the effects..

One of the often cited problems with natural gas as an energy source is that they are hard to safety transport over long distances because of the volatile and hazardous properties of the fuels.  A proposed solution is to turn the fuel back into a solid by freezing and applying pressure like at the bottom of the ocean where fuels like methane are in a solid and thus more stable state.

My concern in using this method of freezing and unfreezing is how much energy will be needed to convert a gas like methane into a solid.  The melting point of methane is about -297 F(162.5C) so an extremely cold environment would be need to convert and keep methane as a solid.  The other problem is that natural gas is another limited resource so putting lots of energy into collecting it is not a good long term energy strategy.

However, just like coal and oil, we will take natural gas as long as we can get it and so having a viable fuel transportation strategy is an important development.

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Calpine

geothermal geysers

The best  and most plentiful source of power on this planet is geological activity.  I have mentioned this belief before particularly when talking about what exactly the oil companies will do when the oil runs out.

I have recently become a resident of the State of California so instead of trying to cover national companies, I will focus on companies in the Southwest in addition to ones in New England.

This corporation has a longish history of natural gas plants in Wisconsin and the Southwest and has a truly sustainable geothermal plant in Northern California. It is estimated that the development meets 60 percent of the power demand for the coastal region between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oregon state line.[1]

The Geysers, a geothermal power field located 72 miles (116 km) north of San Francisco, California, is the largest geothermal development in the world. . The Geysers consists of 22 separate power plants that utilize steam from more than 350 producing wells. The Calpine Corporation operates and owns 19 of the 22 facilities. The other three facilities are operated by the Northern California Power Agency and the Western GeoPower Corporation.

It is currently outputting over 750 MW

And I have a great history of the company from someone who knows them well, both from a financial and personal perspective:

Calpine had a hard time of it
because of the nature of the energy business and its proximity to National
Security.  When Enron was overbought and tried to characterize loan
payments to various off-the-books entities such as Chewco and Raptor
(Raptor was also the name of a state of the art jet program at the Defense
Department) as revenue, their competitive entities, the oil companies,
banks, insurers and the U.S. Government, did it in with the Enron Task
Force (ETF is also the acronym for Electronically Traded Funds)–because,
as the saying goes–the public must diversify!).  Anyway, the spill-off
from Enron, 911 and the NYSE shut down by Grasso et al., didn’t help
Calpine to say the least.  Their funding was cut off and Buffett (yes
Warren) demanded pipeline companies carry more insurance coverage due to
the terrorist threat.   It took six years to bankrupt Calpine and in late
2007 they filed Chapter 11.  They emerged from bankruptcy with a five
billion dollar loan in 2008.  They have various properties generating
geo-thermal power and build gas-fired power plants internationally.
Calpine has several “bases” headquarter loci, among them San Jose
California and Houston Texas and have a large Canadian real estate
portfolio including natural gas related interests.

-John

calpine geothermal

Gas Hydrate solid methane

gas-hydrate

collected from the bottom of the ocean. vast amounts. Why can’t drill for it like we do for oil?

Those were the questions I had about the large amount of natural gas trapped mostly on the bottom of the ocean by the pressure and cold temperatures. One obsticle with drilling is the extreme depths…not like offshore oil drilling which is done in relatively shallow waters.

Gas hydrates are crystalline solids consisting of gas molecules, usually methane, each surrounded by a cage of water molecules.  Gas hydrate looks and acts like ice, but it contains vast amounts of methane.

The real problem with considering this as a fuel source is the fuel would be Methane. Methane is a Greenhouse gas and when it is burned for fuel it produces Carbon Dioxide.   Taking the Hydrate out would also destabilize the sea floor and cause giant Tsunamis. So let’s not spend a lot of time and money on this kind of pipe dream.

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