Category Archives: natural gas

Fracking Hell: The Untold Story


An original investigative report by Earth Focus and UK’s Ecologist Film Unit looks at the risks of natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale. From toxic chemicals in drinking water to unregulated interstate dumping of potentially radioactive waste that experts fear can contaminate water supplies in major population centers including New York City, are the health consequences worth the economic gains? link

Brown Going Green


The UPS Worldport air hub in Louisville will convert all of its diesel-powered ground support vehicles to run on a biodiesel fuel blend early next year in a pilot project being funded by a $515,000 federal grant, the company said yesterday.

Most of the 366 vehicles involved are used to move and lift cargo containers, reposition aircraft, carry jet fuel to the planes and power generators, said UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot. A few on-the-road tractors will also switch to the fuel, a mixture of 5 percent biodiesel with 95 percent conventional diesel fuel.


UPS also announced yesterday that it was adding to its “green fleet” with orders for 167 delivery trucks that run on compressed natural gas and 139 trucks that run on propane.


Rwanda’s underwater powerhouse

Well since Africa is going to bear the brunt of climate change, and the continent is already ravaged by war, disease, and poverty, it’s nice to hear something positive for once:

The calm, blue waters of Lake Kivu in the west of Rwanda belie the energy powerhouse it stores deep underwater.

Hundreds of metres down in the inky blackness, the lake is holding enough unexploited energy to meet Rwanda’s needs for 200 years.

Rotting vegetation which has been deposited for millions of years at the bottom of the lake is giving off a constant regenerating supply of methane gas.

Some of that gas bubbles to the surface where it is carried away and dispersed on the wind, but much of it, under massive pressure, is dissolved in the water at the bottom of the lake, which is in places more than 600m deep.

Methane is a combustible gas ideal for use in electricity generation and heating, it is the main component of “natural gas” fed to cookers all over the world.

Then again, although the lake may be a new energy source, it isn’t entirely positive:

Lake Kivu is what is known as a “turnover lake”. Geological evidence from around the lake shows that every 1,000 years or so there have been cataclysmic events which have wiped out all animal life in a huge radius surrounding the lake.

What happens is that gradually so much methane and carbon dioxide is dissolved in the water that it begins to acquire buoyancy. Instead of this being released gradually there is a sudden huge explosion, where the lake effectively turns over.

The gas laden water from the bottom of the lake surges to the surface, releasing billions of cubic metres of gas; this settle like a huge toxic blanket over the surrounding area.

It is heavier than air so all the oxygen is forced out and all life is suffocated. This is what happened at Lake Nyos in Cameroon in 1986, when 1,700 people were killed. Lake Kivu is hundreds of times bigger than Lake Nyos and it is estimated that more than two million people would die.

Extracting methane from the lake will help to mitigate this cataclysmic eventuality.


Gas producers dismiss cartel talk

Is there about to be an OPEC of natural gas?

Major gas exporting countries have said they will form a high-level committee to discuss pricing.

However, meeting in the Qatari capital Doha, the informal grouping, called the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, said it had no plans to set up a cartel.

Russia, will head the committee with other members also including Iran and Kazakhstan, Algeria and Qatar. The forum is a relatively informal grouping with a variable membership but it accounts for something like 70% of known reserves.

Some of its leaders had expressed interest in forming a cartel similar to Opec to control production and price.

[BBC News]

Freewatt micro-CHP for the home

Honda and Climate Energy have begun sales of Freewatt, their joint micro-CHP (combined heat and power) cogeneration system designed for residential use.  A similar system has been available in Japan since 2003, and to date, more than 45,000 have been sold.

The freewatt Micro-CHP system consists of an MCHP cogeneration unit developed by Honda paired with a furnace or boiler produced by Climate Energy. The ultra-quiet MCHP unit—based on Honda’s GE160EV natural gas engine—produces 3.26 kW of heat and 1.2 kW of electric power.

The system should offer substantial cost and emissions reductions.  Freewatt is currently being aimed at the Northeastern US, where heating costs are substantial, but there are plans to expand sales nationwide.