Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who leaves the smaller carbon foot print; CNG or Electric powered cars?

First off both fuels are friendlier to the environment than petroleum powered cars; but in deciding which of these two energies is better we have to not only how renewable they are but which is overall friendlier to the environment? Hi. I'm leaning towards CNG as a better alternative to petroleum than electric cars. Methane is what we call Natural Gas and this can be produced by collecting and refining the decomposing waste. Today landfills are powering town around the world. 40% of the gas produced by the landfill is methane and can be refined and transported directly to homes via the pipeline infrastructure already in place. In Tillamook dairies are powered by the methane that the cows excrement produces. Like electric cars CNG cars have about a 100-200 mile per fill-up or charge making them idea for local travel but not long distances. The development of a quick charge battery will take longer to develop than to provide fill stations along highways for CNG. CNG fuel providers could be put in place just by governments providing subsidies or incentives. Additionally methane is charged with effecting the environment when it is released into the atmosphere, it is a greenhouse gas. Methane has a much much smaller effect when it is burned. CNG cars burn methane. Electric cars are primarily run on electricity that is produced by burning coal, which not only releases CO2 into the atmosphere but the digging for coal releases unburned methane into the atmosphere. Electric cars are great but CNG cars are a better choice of today. A possible alternative or maybe a better solution would be a combination of the fuels. Electricity is created by burning coal to heat water. The water turns into super heated steam which is used to turn a turbine. That turbine turning creates an electromagnetic field from which an electric current is produced. If the coal was replaced by natural gas, which is renewable, the effect of coal on the environment could be minimized. According to the US Energy Information Administration coal accounted for 44.5% of the electricity generated in 2009. The EIA also reported a drop in Natural Gas cost driving states to switch their electricity generation operations from coal to natural gas. “Coal-to-gas switching. The increase in delivered coal prices and the decrease in delivered natural gas prices, combined with surplus capacity at highly-efficient gas-fired combined-cycle plants resulted in coal-to-gas fuel switching This occurred particularly in the Southeast (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina) and also Pennsylvania. Nationwide, coal-fired electric power generation declined 11.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, bringing coal's share of the electricity power output to 44.5 percent, the lowest level since 1978. Coal consumption at U.S. power plants paralleled the decline in generation, dropping 10.3 percent from 2008.8 In sharp contrast, natural gas-fired generation increased 4.3 percent in 2009, despite the 4.1-percent decline in overall electric generation. The natural gas share of generation increased to 23.3 percent—the highest level since 1970. Electricity's share of the total U.S. natural gas consumption has also risen rapidly, growing from 17 percent in 1996 to over 30 percent in 2009.” U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2010). Electric Power Annual. Retrieved from http://eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epa_sum.html Here is a little blurb by James G. Speight “NG use does not contribute significantly to smog formation, as it emits low NO x levels and virtually no particulate matter. For this reason, it can be used to help combat smog formation in those areas where ground-level air quality is poor. Increased NG use in the electric generation sector, a shift to cleaner NG vehicles, or increased industrial NG use, could all serve to combat smog production, especially in urban centers where it is needed the most. Particularly in the summertime, when NG demand is lowest and smog problems are the greatest, industrial plants and electric generators could use NG to fuel their operations instead of other, more polluting fossil fuels. This would effectively reduce the emissions of smog-causing chemicals and result in clearer, healthier air around urban centers. Particulate emissions also cause air quality degradation in the US. These particulates can include soot, ash, metals and other airborne particles. NG emits virtually no particulates into the atmosphere. In fact, particulate emissions from NG combustion are 90% lower than from the combustion of oil, and 99% lower than burning coal. Thus, increased NG substitution in place of other dirtier fossil fuels can reduce particulate emissions.” (“Natural gas, the clean fuel,” 2009) Natural gas, the clean fuel. (2009). Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, January(2009), . Retrieved from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1641211601&Fmt=3&clientId

1 comment:

  1. Are you basing this preference on a study or your anecdotal observations? I see that studies that say NG is better than coal. Sure, but neither is better than an EV powered by renewable energy.

    Have you seen the documentary Gasland? I would recommend watching it before you recommend methane for any purpose. People were lighting their tap water on fire!

    Electric vehicles can be powered by renewable energy. An NG car is powered by fossil fuels. Fossil fuels that result in environmental damage when they are harvested and that put CO2 into the atmosphere when burned. Why would we ever want to switch from one fossil fuel to another; if we have to make a switch do it right and move to a better long term solution rather than a short term solution that will have the same problem in within a generation.

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