Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

The ecology of natural gas

July 13, 2012

Scientists examine process chain of natural gas, from rural extraction to urban distribution

"Fracking" stories about shale gas extraction hit the news daily, fueling a growing conflagration between environmental protectionism and economic interests. Otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking has become a profitable venture thanks to advances in horizontal drilling technology, opening up large US reservoirs and vastly changing the natural gas market. Touted as a clean energy source and a bridge fuel to transition from fossil fuels, natural gas via fracking is also frought with public health and environmental concerns. A session at the upcoming annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America will look at the natural gas process chain, from extraction and processing to transport and distribution.

In the United States, most shale gas resources lie in the Northeast, South Central and Rocky Mountain regions of the country. Among the largest of these is the Marcellus shale, which underlies a broad swath of the Northeast. Robert Jackson and his colleagues at Duke University have been researching fracking impacts on drinking water, sampling the shallow groundwater systems of more than 200 homeowners, most of them in the Marcellus formation of Pennsylvania and New York. Jackson will be among the presenters discussing the ecological and environmental dimensions of shale gas extraction in the session "Natural Gas: Ecology, Environment and Economics."

"In our first study of 68 homes published in 2011," says Jackson, "we found no evidence of increased salt concentrations or fracturing fluids. But we did find that dissolved methane concentrations were on average 17 times higher for water wells located within 1 kilometer of gas wells."

Jackson's presentation will include additional sampling results taken since the group's May 2011 study.

Shanna Cleveland, with the Conservation Law Foundation, will talk about policy strategies that could encourage cleaner natural gas distribution. Focusing on leaks in the antiquated natural gas pipelines of Massachusetts, Cleveland will draw on data supplied by the state's departments of environmental protection and public utilities.

"In Massachusetts alone," says Cleveland, "leaking pipelines release an estimated 8 - 12 billion cubic feet of methane. Unfortunately, current state and federal policies actually provide disincentives for pipeline owners to find and fix leaks."

Methane, the main constituent of natural gas, can pose a public safety threat and contributes to climate change. Cleveland will talk about how a mechanism called Targeted Infrastructure Recovery Factor (TIRF) could foster repairs by allowing gas companies to recover their capital costs for replacing certain types of pipelines on a yearly basis.

Gas leaks also cause significant changes to the soil. Margaret Hendrick and colleagues at Boston University conducted a study in Boston that looked at the effects of pervasive natural gas leaks from aging pipelines on urban ecosystems. They found that gassed soils often had levels of methane exceeding 90 percent and oxygen levels below 10 percent.

"Soil at leak sites often looks black and viscous, with a crusty substance at its surface," says Hendrick. "Dried out and oxygen-deprived, these soils become inhospitable to many organisms that live in the soil."

The researchers also found that plants at leak sites suffered from higher mortality rates and that methane gas invades plant tissues growing both above and below-ground. Hendrick and her colleagues hope their findings will help city planners and advance understanding of methane's role in global warming.

Robert Howarth, of Cornell University, will summarize the magnitude of methane emissions from all parts of societal use of natural gas as a fuel and compare its greenhouse gas footprint with that of other fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.

"Methane emissions dominate the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas," says Howarth, who will also discuss the extent to which methane pollution from natural gas can be reduced.

Other speakers in the session are:

- Robert Ackley, Gas Safety Inc.
- Eric Crosson, Picarro, Inc.
- Adrian Down, Duke University
- Susan Stout, USDA Forest Service
- Lynda Farrell, Pipeline Safety Coalition
- Kenneth Klemow, Wilkes University

Organized Oral Session 3 - Natural Gas: Ecology, Environment and Economics will take place on Monday, August 6 from 1:30 PM - 5 PM in room A 105 of the Oregon Convention Center.

Ecological Society of America


Related Natural Gas Current Events and Natural Gas News Articles


Survey gives clearer view of risky leaks from gas mains
Precise measurements of leaks from natural gas pipelines across metropolitan Boston have demonstrated that almost a sixth of the leaks qualified as potentially explosive, and that a handful of leaks emitted half of the total gas lost.

Penn chemists lay groundwork for countless new, cleaner uses of methane
Methane is the world's most abundant hydrocarbon. It's the major component of natural gas and shale gas and, when burned, is an effective fuel.

Study: Carbon tax needed to cut fossil fuel consumption
In recent years, proponents of clean energy have taken heart in the falling prices of solar and wind power, hoping they will drive an energy revolution.

UCI maps methane leaks across Los Angeles Basin
Hundreds of methane-emitting hot spots have been identified across the Los Angeles Basin, including a "clean ports" truck refueling facility near the Port of Long Beach, power plants, water treatment facilities, and cattle in Chino, according to new findings by the University of California, Irvine.

Proven one-step process to convert CO2 and water directly into liquid hydrocarbon fuel
A team of University of Texas at Arlington chemists and engineers have proven that concentrated light, heat and high pressures can drive the one-step conversion of carbon dioxide and water directly into useable liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

Benefits associated with the reduction of mercury emissions far outweigh industry cost
How should cost factor into the protection of human health and the environment? That was the central question in a Supreme Court case last summer that pitted the coal industry and 20 U.S. states against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Does living near an oil or natural gas well affect your drinking water?
"The answer to that question is usually 'no,' but there are exceptions," said Stanford Professor Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and at the Precourt Institute for Energy.

New type of nanowires, built with natural gas heating
A team of Korean researchers, affiliated with UNIST has recently pioneered in developing a new simple nanowire manufacturing technique that uses self-catalytic growth process assisted by thermal decomposition of natural gas.

Mercury levels in rainfall are rising in parts of North America, study finds
An analysis of long-term trends in the amount of mercury in rainfall and other forms of precipitation in North America found recent increases at many sites, mostly in the center of the continent. At other sites, including those along the East Coast, mercury levels in rainfall have been trending steadily downward over the past 20 years.

Rapid, affordable energy transformation possible
The United States could slash greenhouse gas emissions from power production by up to 78 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years while meeting increased demand, according to a new study by NOAA and University of Colorado Boulder researchers.
More Natural Gas Current Events and Natural Gas News Articles

Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century

Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century
by Vaclav Smil (Author)


Natural gas is the world’s cleanest fossil fuel; it generates less air pollution and releases less CO2 per unit of useful energy than liquid fuels or coals. With its vast supplies of conventional resources and nonconventional stores, the extension of long-distance gas pipelines and the recent expansion of liquefied natural gas trade, a truly global market has been created for this clean fuel. Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century discusses the place and prospects of natural gas in modern high-energy societies. Vaclav Smil presents a systematic survey of the qualities, origins, extraction, processing and transportation of natural gas, followed by a detailed appraisal of its many preferred, traditional and potential uses, and the recent emergence of the fuel as a globally traded...

Natural Gas in Nontechnical  Language

Natural Gas in Nontechnical Language
by Rebecca L. Busby (Author), Rebecca L. Busby (Editor)


An overview of the natural gas process from well head to burnertip, from futures trading to exploration, and the latest cogeneration issues and other product use. Contents: Origins and history of natural gas Exploration principles, tools, and techniques Drilling, production and processing Gas transmission pipeline network Natural gas storage Gas distribution systems Uses for natural gas Regulatory history of the gas industry Gas marketing and sales Future supply and demand for natural gas Glossary.

Natural Gas Trading: From Natural Gas Stocks to Natural Gas Futures- Your Complete, Step-by-Step Guide to Natural Gas Trading

Natural Gas Trading: From Natural Gas Stocks to Natural Gas Futures- Your Complete, Step-by-Step Guide to Natural Gas Trading


From Natural Gas Stocks To Natural Gas Futures— Discover Step-By-Step How To Trade Natural Gas

This Book Is The Ultimate Guide To Natural Gas Trading

In this book, you’ll learn how the natural gas market works and how to trade natural gas. You’ll learn about the key factors that drive the price of natural gas, and you’ll be taken—step-by-step—through several ways to trade natural gas including via stocks, options, futures and ETFs.

Here are some of the specifics you'll learn...

- Why natural gas trading can be risky (but potentially very profitable!) and how the demand for natural gas has spiked recently-- Chapter 1

- The 3 key factors that drive the price of natural gas-- And how to use them to your advantage--...

Trading Natural Gas: Cash, Futures, Options and Swaps

Trading Natural Gas: Cash, Futures, Options and Swaps
by Fletcher J. Sturm (Author)


This great "how to" book covers the various mechanics of natural gas trading, including the physical (cash) market for natural gas production, transportation, distribution, and consumption. The heart of the text is the definition and demonstration of financial trading tools and techniques. It closes with discussion of more complex structures of trading and the author's philosophy on how a risk management department should function within a natural gas trading company.

The Natural Gas Revolution: At the Pivot of the World's Energy Future

The Natural Gas Revolution: At the Pivot of the World's Energy Future
by Robert W. Kolb (Author)


Robert W. Kolb reveals how new gas resources are transforming the global energy industry, redistributing economic and geopolitical power in stunning ways. Kolb’s The Natural Gas Revolution explains the new promise of natural gas to stimulate economies and enrich human life — and objectively assesses the major environmental risks that accompany fracking, horizontal drilling, and today’s massive new LNG infrastructures. He places natural gas in broader context, clearly and carefully explaining what it will really mean to global economics, geopolitics, investors, the environment, and consumers. He explains the key technologies that have enabled access to huge new natural gas sources, and illuminates the remarkable implications of larger, more widely distributed, and more...

Handbook of Liquefied Natural Gas

Handbook of Liquefied Natural Gas
by Saeid Mokhatab (Author), John Y. Mak (Author), Jaleel V. Valappil (Author), David A. Wood (Author)


Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a commercially attractive phase of the commodity that facilitates the efficient handling and transportation of natural gas around the world. The LNG industry, using technologies proven over decades of development, continues to expand its markets, diversify its supply chains and increase its share of the global natural gas trade. The Handbook of Liquefied Natural Gas is a timely book as the industry is currently developing new large sources of supply and the technologies have evolved in recent years to enable offshore infrastructure to develop and handle resources in more remote and harsher environments. It is the only book of its kind, covering the many aspects of the LNG supply chain from liquefaction to regasification by addressing the LNG industries’...

Understanding Today's Natural Gas Business

Understanding Today's Natural Gas Business
by Bob Shively (Author), John Ferrare (Author)


Updated 5/2011 - A comprehensive overview of the natural gas industry. The book covers topics ranging from how natural gas developed and the physical system, to end users and deregulation, and the major players to market dynamics. A perfect introduction to the industry for new hires or a resource book for any level industry player.

Fundamentals of Natural Gas Processing, Second Edition

Fundamentals of Natural Gas Processing, Second Edition
by Arthur J. Kidnay (Author), William R. Parrish (Author), Daniel G. McCartney (Author)


Offering indispensable insight from experts in the field, Fundamentals of Natural Gas Processing, Second Edition provides an introduction to the gas industry and the processes required to convert wellhead gas into valuable natural gas and hydrocarbon liquids products. The authors compile information from the literature, meeting proceedings, and their own work experiences to give an accurate picture of where gas processing technology stands today as well as to highlight relatively new technologies that could become important in the future. The second edition of this bestselling text reflects important advances in gas processing technologies, including those related to liquefied natural gas (LNG). New to the Second Edition Background information in five new chapters that cover processing...

The Green and the Black: The Complete Story of the Shale Revolution, the Fight over Fracking, and the Future of Energy

The Green and the Black: The Complete Story of the Shale Revolution, the Fight over Fracking, and the Future of Energy
by Gary Sernovitz (Author)


Gary Sernovitz leads a double life. A typical New York liberal, he is also an oilman - a fact his left-leaning friends let slide until the word "fracking" entered popular parlance. "How can you frack?" they suddenly demanded, aghast. But for Sernovitz, the real question is, "What happens if we don't?"Fracking has become a four-letter word to environmentalists. But most people don't know what it means. In his fast-paced, funny, and lively book, Sernovitz explains the reality of fracking: what it is, how it can be made safer, and how the oil business works. He also tells the bigger story. Fracking was just one part of a shale revolution that shocked our assumptions about fueling America's future. The revolution has transformed the world with consequences for the oil industry,...

The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World

The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World
by Russell Gold (Author)


The “best all-around book yet on fracking” (San Francisco Chronicle) from a Pulitzer Prize finalist: “Gold's work is a tour de force of contemporary journalism” (Booklist).

First invented in 1947, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not only become a major source of energy, it is changing the way we use energy, and the energy we use. It is both a threat and a godsend for the environment, and it is leading the revival of manufacturing in the United States.

A definitive narrative history, The Boom follows the twists and turns in the development and adoption of this radical technology. It is a thrilling journey filled with colorful characters: the green-minded Texas oilman who created the first modern frack; a bare-knuckled Oklahoman natural gas empire-builder who...

© 2016 BrightSurf.com