New Gas/Liquids Processing Plant Planned for North Dakota’s Bakken Gas

Much of the natural gas associated with the oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken formation has been flared, or burned off, instead of being captured and used as an energy source. This gas tends to be “rich gas” meaning it has a high butane and propane content. It also tends to be “sour gas,” meaning that it has a lot of hydrogen sulfide, which is highly toxic and corrosive and so has to be processed out of the gas. It can be refined into commercially valuable sulfur.

With natural gas prices at their lowest in a decade, there has not been much interest in laying pipeline to capture the gas and process it and transport it.

But Plains All American Pipeline Company has decided to build an expansion onto their Ross, ND plant that will extract the increasingly valuable propane, butane, ethane, and pentane liquids from the Bakken natural gas, and will add the purified methane to the existing natural gas pipeline stream coming out of the Bakken/Williston Basin area of North Dakota.

This is very good news and we at the CNG Times applaud Plains All American for taking this step. This new plant will create good jobs. We will waste less of this valuable resource because of flaring. This plant will help to continue to keep the price of natural gas low, which will facilitate the transition from gasoline and diesel to natural gas as a motor fuel, and it will help to bring down the price of propane and other natural gas liquids, which are an important energy source for farmers, ranchers, and industry.

Low gas costs may not be enough to spur large fertilizer expansion

Knoxville, Tennessee (Platts)–27Jan2012/224 pm EST/1924 GMT

While US natural gas prices below $3/MMBtu seem enough to entice any industrial user to expand their use of the fuel, for US fertilizer manufacturers the equation is not quite that simple.

Analysts said recently that a host of obstacles, such as permitting and long-term financial risk, would make construction of a new site untenable, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from resuscitating mothballed facilities or mulling expansions.

Natural gas typically represents 70% to 90% of the production cost for anhydrous ammonia — the key building block for nitrogen-based fertilizers, according to The Fertilizer Institute.

Several manufacturers have been coaxed into restarting plants and studying expansion,

Continue reading

CNG Cylinders International Announces New Large Capacity Type III Cylinders

CNG Cylinders International has recently come out with a new product to fill a very important niche. They have just brought a Type III (aluminum wound with carbon fiber) cylinder that holds 25.5 GGE or 22.6 DGE.

This lightweight CNG tank is 22.5″  in diameter and 61″ in length (without valve and PRD.) It weighs in at a svelte 250 lbs empty.

CNG Cylinders International president Sigfried Rivalta announced that an even larger tank will be available within a couple of months. A 22.5″ x 80″. This tank will hold 34.2 GGE.

While liquified natural gas (LNG) is really the only way to get the volumes of fuel onboard necessary to keep an over the road truck supplied, there are plenty of shorter haul trucks which could still benefit from the cheaper and more user friendly CNG fueling model. These products will work very well for heavy trucks that make those shorter hauls. They could also be useful on medium to large sized agricultural equipment.

These tanks should compare very favorably in price with Lincoln and Quantum Type IV products.

Contact CNG Cylinders International directly for a price quote.

Making a Stationary Diesel Run on Natural Gas

The company that sells the conversion kit for the Powerstroke conversion project, C&E Clean Energy Solutions, also sells kits for stationary diesels to enable them to run off pipeline gas.  Here is a Davey 3600 psi air compressor which is powered by a 17 h.p. Hatz air cooled diesel engine. The engine is fitted with a small version of our stationary diesel natural gas conversion kit.

When the video starts, you can hear the engine and compressor running in the background. Both units are on and the engine is under pretty close to its max load for this particular application. The compressor might demand a little more from the engine as it gets closer to that 3600 psi number, but this is about as hard as it ever works right here. When the video starts, the unit is already running on a mixture of natural gas and diesel fuel.

I then show the digital pyrometer and the master switch for the natural gas kit. When I shut the switch off, you hear the motor do two things: slow down, and get noisier. It’s doing that because it’s going back to running on straight diesel fuel and the injectors are starting to deliver more diesel fuel as the governor compensates for the lost natural gas fuel.

Because I’m using this unit as a demonstration platform and I need it to be mobile and have a mobile fuel supply. So I had to find a way to run it off of compressed natural gas. Because it’s air-cooled and naturally aspirated, our CNG unit wouldn’t work. So I had to cobble a system to make it run off compressed gas taken from the tank in my truck. I put a 300 psi rated valve and air fittings off the low pressure side of the 3600 psi-250 psi hot-water-heated regulator on my truck’s conversion kit. The gas then passes through an air compressor pressure regulator where I bump it down a bit more. Then it passes through an oil-resistant air hose, and is patched into a two stage RV propane regulator. That steps it down from 250 to 1/2 psi.

There are two difficulties in making that work. One is just the volume of gas I’m able to move through those small orifices, even though it’s under quite a bit of pressure. The other problem is that I have moisture in my gas and I get icing from the rapid drop in temperature. That’s happened to me a time or two and has made a couple of messes. I found that dialing back the pressure gives me more run time before the icing starts. As a result of that, I’m not able to substitute as much gas as the engine will actually take. I estimate I’m running on 30-40% fuel substitution right now. That’s enough to make a noticeable difference when the gas is turned on, but it’s not my maximum possible fuel substitution by any means.

When I’m running it on a 3/4″ gas line at 1/2 PSI, I estimate I’m able to run 65% or 70% gaseous fuel substitution.

While the CNG kit for pickups and tractors, etc, requires a turbocharged engine to work, the stationary kit will work on both turbo and naturally aspirated engines. It will work on generators, irrigators, well pumps, feed grinders, saw mills, just about anything that you use a stationary diesel for.

The main point of this demonstration is this: Depending on the price of your natural gas and diesel fuel, you can save a lot of money on diesel fuel, or you can save a whole lot of money on diesel fuel. Even at 50% substitution (the low end of what is possible) you are substituting a fuel that costs around $1 per gallon, (or less) for one that costs around $3-$3.60 per gallon.

If you burn 6 gallons an hour of straight diesel fuel, and your diesel fuel costs $3.20 per gallon, you’re spending $19.20 per operating hour.

If you substitute 50% of the fuel with natural gas, you’re spending $9.60 per hour on diesel and $3 per hour on natural gas, cutting your cost per hour of operation to $12.60. That’s a savings of almost $7 an hour.

As I said before, 50% substitution is generally the minimum benchmark. If you’re running your diesel under 90-95% load, you’re not going to be able to substitute 50%. Maybe more like 30-40% substitution in that case, but most guys don’t run their engines that hard.

If you’re running a lighter load, then you can get 75% substitution. On that same 6 gallon per hour motor, you’d be burning 1.5 gallons of diesel per hour. At $3.20 per gallon, that’s $4.80 worth of diesel fuel and $4.50 worth of natural gas, giving you a $9.30 per hour operating cost.

That’s a savings of  almost $10 per operating hour. The unit that substitutes 3 gallons per hour costs $1540 if you buy the pyrometer with the overtemp protection. That price includes shipping.

At $10 per hour savings, that unit will pay for itself in fuel savings in 154 operating hours. If you irrigate 800 hours per season, you get to start putting $10 per hour in your pocket less than 1/4 of the way through the irrigation season.

It’s a pretty simple equation. Spend less money on fuel. Make more profit on your crop.

LNG Infrastructure Developing Fast

150 LNG Truck Fueling Stations Enabling Goods Movement
Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border Anticipated by End of 2013

The route plan for the first phase of 150 new LNG fueling stations for America’s Natural Gas Highway (ANGH) was unveiled on January 12, by Clean Energy Fuels Corp., provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America.  The company has identified 98 locations and anticipates having 70 stations open by the end of 2012 in 33 states.

Many of the fueling stations will be co-located at Pilot-Flying J Travel Centers already serving goods movement trucking through an exclusive agreement with Pilot to build, own and operate natural gas fueling facilities at agreed-upon travel centers. Pilot-Flying J is the nation’s largest truck-stop operator with more than 550 retail properties in 47 states.

Major highway segments planned for early opening include, among others, those linking San Diego-Los Angeles-Riverside-Las Vegas; the Texas Triangle (Houston-San Antonio-Dallas/Ft. Worth); Los Angeles-Dallas; Houston-Chicago; Chicago-Atlanta; and a network of stations along major highways in the mid-west region (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Montana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama) to serve the heavy trucking traffic in the area.

Scheduled for completion during 2012 and 2013, the 150 first-phase stations coincide with the expected arrival of new natural gas truck engines well suited for heavy-duty, over-the-road trucking. Engine manufacturers and original equipment truck manufacturers such as Cummins-Westport, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Navistar, Freightliner and Caterpillar are expected to have Class-8 trucks available in engine sizes allowing for varied road and driving requirements. Continue reading

F250 Powerstroke Natural Gas Conversion Project Pt. 5

Click here for Part 1, here for Part 2, here for Part 3, and here for Part 4

I suppose it’s not necessary to leave the wiring until last, but I have chosen to do so. The wiring process is very simple if you’re only installing the kit. The kit comes with two crimp-type wire connectors, a switch, and a length of red wire. One of the two wires on the conversion kit solenoid is a ground wire and the unit is meant to be grounded via one of the bolts that mounts the kit to the bed. The other one is the positive voltage to energize the solenoid.

Find a source of engine-on-only power somewhere, either under the dash or under the hood. Just turn the key on to the run position, and ground your test light. Poke around at electrical connections until you find one that’s lights up the test light. Turn off the key and check the connection again. If there’s no voltage present, you’ve found your power source. I chose to connect to a solenoid under the hood.

I’m a little bit hyper about my wiring connections because there’s no problem more maddening to find than an intermittent ground or something like that. For that reason I don’t like crimp connectors and I loathe Scotchloks. I’m a big fan of solder and heat shrink tubing wherever I can use it, especially when the connection might be exposed to the weather. I also like ground connections to be made under the hood, at least. I’ve seen some body grounds get pretty unreliable as the vehicle ages and rusts, especially grounds toward the rear of the vehicle. But the body grounding under the hood is usually pretty decent. So I chose to solder and heat shrink all my connections at the conversion kit in the bed, and ground my circuit to an existing body ground on the firewall of the truck. I elected to use the crimp connectors under the dash, and to connect the wire to the fittings under the hood.

Continue reading

Look out, Chicago: $5 gas headed your way

By Dave Siff

  • Analysts: Prices at the pump could hit $5 by Memorial Day
  • High oil prices, increasing exports driving gas prices up
  • Clark Howard says you better shop around!

Attention, drivers: Get ready for some serious pain at the pump.

Analysts tell the Los Angeles Times that gas prices will hit $4 a gallon or more by spring, and — hold on to your wallets — could reach $5 over Memorial Day weekend.

And those are just average prices. GasBuddy.com, which posts prices from around the country as reported by its more than 300,000 member motorists, predicts record prices in major cities all over the map this spring. The site forecasts $4.95 a gallon in Chicago and $4.70 in Los Angeles, with record prices also hitting Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Dallas and San Francisco. Continue reading

Chrysler to begin natural gas truck sales to fleets in 2012

Courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) — Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, plans to begin selling natural gas- powered pickups in the U.S. this year, said Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both automakers.

“We are going to bring them here, there is no doubt,” Marchionne said yesterday in an interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Sales will be “limited at first. It depends upon the distribution network.”

Fiat, which owns 58.5 percent of Auburn Hills, Michigan- based Chrysler, has engines using compressed natural gas in Europe. Chrysler executives have said they plan to begin deliveries of vehicles using the technology to the U.S. by 2017.

Sales of compressed natural gas-powered pickups will begin to fleet customers, David Elshoff, a spokesman, said in an e- mail. He declined to say whether Chrysler will target particular buyers such as government or commercial customers.

Marchionne said yesterday that natural-gas engines are the “best option.” He has argued they’re cheaper than competing technologies and that electric cars, which competitors such as General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. are marketing, present “too many obstacles” such as the recharge time for batteries. Continue reading

Natural gas prices continue to plummet

The price of natural gas continues to fall with the Nymex Henry Hub Future price closing at $2.77/MMBtu today.

That is the lowest price in ten years.

Oil, on the other hand, is up above $100 at all three main hubs (Cushing, Nymex, and Brent.)  Brent crude is now over $114 a barrel.

Don’t you wish you could fill up your car or truck with natural gas? You can!

Keep up with oil and gas price action here.

F250 Powerstroke Natural Gas Conversion Project Pt. 4

Click here for Part 1, here for Part 2, and here for Part 3

Now that the bed mounted conversion kit is installed and the hot water and vapor lines are all run, it’s time to install the high pressure stainless steel tubing that brings the gas from the tank to the conversion kit.

Swagelok compression fitting

In some ways this is the most difficult part of the conversion because of the high pressure compression fittings. They are expensive, and it’s possible to install them incorrectly and ruin the little self swaging crush-sealing ferrules. If you ruin the ferrule it can be replaced, but it’s not something you can run down to Autozone and pick up. It has to come from a company that deals with high pressure fittings. I’m in a small town in the upper Midwest, and my nearest retail outlet for these fittings is over 500 miles away. So if you goof one up, and you didn’t purchase extras (always a good idea) then your project is on hold until you get more ferrules. It’s best to order some extras when you buy your fittings.

There are three U.S. based companies that I know of who manufacture these fittings: Swagelok, Duolok, and Parker. There are also several foreign companies, mostly Chinese. Due mostly to the way I went about acquiring my fittings, I’ve got a mixture of brands. Some of mine are Swagelok, some of mine are of Chinese manufacture with no discernible markings telling me who the manufacturer is, and one is by a Chinese company called Li Feng Lok. Continue reading