Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Fueling the future

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Workshop addresses CNG, LNG fuels

Minden South Webster Chamber of Commerce and Chesapeake Energy took a step toward a potentially cleaner and more economical future for the parish by hosting a workshop on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuels.

"I think we're on the verge of having alternative energy sources to run all kinds of things in our society," House District 10 Representative Gene Reynolds said. "I appreciate all the work within the natural gas community that is pushing our future forward."

The event, which drew around 300 attendees from as far away as east Texas, was also cosponsored by Encana, CenterPoint Energy and the Association of Energy Service Companies.

According to Sarie Joubert of Chesapeake Energy, natural gas fuels have a number of advantages, not the least of which is a cheaper price. She also said it is safer, cleaner, quieter and offers similar performance to traditionally fueled vehicles.

"We started converting our vehicles more than four years ago," she said. "Eventually as the stations are built, we'll have 6,000 vehicles running on natural gas."

According to Joubert, 16 CNG stations currently exist in the Ark-La-Tex area, 13 of which are public. Webster currently has none.

John Reece of Westport Fuel Systems, Inc. offered a solution for Webster fleets that may be considering the switch to CNG/LNG.

"We can put a mobile fueler on your yard until such time it warrants us building a full blown station," he said. "So if you're out in a remote location, don't let that stop you from taking advantage of this technology."

Mobile fueling stations of different sizes are reportedly available from multiple companies participating in the workshop, including small units usable in a residence.

Joshua Robbins of Ryder addressed the safety of CNG/LNG.

"To get that (CNG/LNG) to ignite, it has to be roughly a ratio of five to 15 percent (with air)," he said. "That's not going to happen. It's lighter than air – it evaporates up. Natural gas isn't 100 percent safe, but it is safer than what's currently being used."

Reportedly tests and real world circumstances show the safety of CNG/LNG.

According to Paul Osbourn of BAF Technologies, the most popular configuration for CNG/LNG vehicles is called bi-fuel, which gives vehicles the ability to use either CNG/LNG or gasoline/ diesel.

"(Bi-fuels) are more popular than everything else," Osbourn said. "The purpose is to reduce driver anxiety. The driver gets nervous that he or she's going to run out of fuel, when he or she probably really isn't. So, if you have the gasoline in there then people have this sense they have the backup fuel if they can't find a CNG station.

"Or if you need to go on a trip," he continued. "You need to take something outside of your normal radius, it extends the range of your vehicle."

Some diesel bi-fuel vehicles require a small amount of diesel to start, but most gasoline bi-fuel vehicles can run on CNG/LNG alone.

According to United States Department of Energy, CNG and LNG are sold in units of diesel or gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs). One GGE of natural gas has the same energy content as one gallon of gasoline or diesel, but is generally much cheaper.

CNG is stored in cylinders onboard the vehicle at pressures of 3,000 to 3,600 pounds per square inch. It is used for light-, medium- and heavy-duty purposes and its GGE equals around 5.66 pounds of CNG.

LNG is purified natural gas that is super-cooled to –260 degrees Fahrenheit turning it into a liquid.

It is stored in double-walled, vacuum-insulated pressure vessels and is commonly used for longer-range vehicles because LNG is denser than CNG and yields more energy by volume. It is typically used in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and its GGE equals approximately 1.5 gallons of LNG.

CNG is the least expensive per unit of all of the above-mentioned fuels. LNG is more expensive per unit than CNG, but cheaper than traditional fuels. However more space is required to store CNG/LNG than traditional fuels.

Hollis Downs of Hunt, Guillot and Associates offered a summation of the advantages of CNG/LNG.

"We're in a position to literally be energy independent, to clean up our environment and cut our operations cost by 40 to 50 percent on our fuel bills," he said. "Now that's three good reasons."

 

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