E&E Part 2: Natural Gas – A Bridge to a Cleaner Future

The United States has a crushing dependence on oil. The United States uses about 20 million barrels of oil a day which accounts for 25% of oil consumed a day by the whole world. [1] That means that 4% of the global population comprises 25% of oil used daily. China uses 10 million barrels a day with five times the population. This does not bode well for the United States as oil reserves continually grow smaller and smaller. Of the oil we consume, almost 70% of it is used for transportation i.e. jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline. [1] That means that we cannot switch to renewable sources immediately because jet engines and diesel engines cannot be electric-powered. In the future, I hope that this changes, however the fact of the matter is that the United States needs to switch its main source of fuel. T. Boones Pickens, an oil baron, suggests that the answer to our energy crisis can be found with Natural Gas.

Natural Gas is 25% cleaner than oil and there is plenty of it. In the United States alone there is an estimated 4000 trillion cubic feet of Natural Gas.[1] From an energy perspective, these reserves of Natural Gas have three times the amount of energy that can be produced from the remaining OPEC oil reserves, the largest oil reserve in the world. [1] Through many types of chemical processes, Natural Gas can be used for jet fuel and diesel. Additionally, Natural Gas is even more efficient at producing electricity than oil.[2] By switching to Natural Gas, we will effectively cut our foreign reliance on oil and we will produce cleaner energy. Natural Gas, however, is not the permanent solution to our energy crisis. Natural Gas still has many problems, especially with obtainment. Fracking, a common way of obtaining Natural Gas, is still under debate mainly because its effects are still unknown. Some people believe that it causes earthquakes and contaminates water but no research so far has been conclusive in that the actual method of fracking causes these things to occur, rather mistakes were made by fracking companies. [3] But if we step back and look at the big picture, oil is going to quickly become economically inviable for the United States. Natural Gas does not have to be the solution but a bridge source of energy that can be used to get us to a point where renewable sources of energy are more viable. [1] T. Boone Pickens also suggests that farther into the future we may even be able to obtain methane hydrates. Methane Hydrates are an ice-like substance that has trapped Natural Gas in it. However, they are found deep beneath the ocean floor but the potential is amazing. As I said before, the United States has an estimated reserves of 4000 trillion cubic feet of Natural Gas. The total methane hydrate that can be turned into Natural Gas is around 300,000 trillion cubic feet in the United States alone. [1] In the world, methane hydrate reserves total around 900,000 trillion cubic feet. [1] Regardless of what we do, Natural Gas cannot be ignored and should be looked into further as a source of energy.

 

Sources

  1. https://www.ted.com/talks/t_boone_pickens_let_s_transform_energy_with_natural_gas
  2. http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/fuel.html
  3. http://energyindepth.org/national/how-anti-fracking-activists-deny-science-water-contamination/
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