The United States used 97.8 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy in 2016. That’s more than double the energy used by Russia the same year. That said, thanks to the increased use of natural gas in the last decade, the country has not only been able to keep up with the growing energy demands but has also achieved its lower carbon emission goals.
The natural gas sector has witnessed great innovations in the past few years due to the natural gas boom in the United States. With the growing interest in the field, we can expect more innovations in the coming few years. But before we take a look at the future natural gas innovations, let’s get some background on how the United States got into the position to see these innovations and what innovations we can expect in the near future.
The evolution of natural gas technology
Up until the mid-twentieth century, explorations were rarely done for natural gas. It was considered a by-product usually found while searching for oil. The early days in all petroleum exploration were mainly based on intuition and observation since there was no technology to infer what was hidden beneath the surface of the Earth.
Drillers sometimes turned to dowsers, who detected the presence or absence of gas or oil with a forked hazel branch.
It was only after the mid-1920s that things began to change. More sophisticated instruments replaced dowsing rods. Scientists and geologists started using technology which was based upon magnetism, gravity, seismic, electrical, radioactivity, geochemical analyses to reveal what was beneath the Earth’s surface.
Natural Gas boom in the US – the dawn of a new era
For decades, the United States was becoming increasingly dependent on natural gas imports. But continuously evolving technologies pushed the natural gas production to reach record highs by streamlining the extraction process. This resulted in a sudden turnaround for the US natural gas sector.
The innovation in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as Fracking, combined with a new capability to transport highly cooled natural gas from the U.S. in liquefied form helped to drive this change.
It allowed previously inaccessible pockets of natural gas in the U.S. to be made available to consumers at home and all over the world.
The boom is expected to continue
If we look at the export of natural gas from the US in just the past 2 years, it also grew exponentially and is expected to grow further if the trends are to be believed.
In 2016, the export of U.S. liquefied natural gas was about 0.5 billion cubic feet per day. In 2017, that number nearly quadrupled to 1.94 billion cubic feet per day. It is predicted that by the end of 2019, the country will have the capacity to export more than 9 billion cubic feet per day.
Natural Gas innovations on the horizon
Natural gas innovation in the US is underway already, so let’s look at 3 game-changing natural gas innovations that can be seen on the horizon:
When compared to fuels like diesel and gasoline, LNG use can lower energy costs by a massive 30-40%. In the U.S., LNG facilities are beginning to appear along major trucking corridors. It is a low-cost, low-emission fuel that can be used to power remote communities and remote industrial sites.
Not just this, LNG can also lower energy costs by 30-40% and reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by up to 28%.
Virtual Pipeline offers an attractive alternative for gas distribution to large commercial and industrial energy consumers and end users. Getting traditional pipelines to remote areas can be very expensive, making low-cost fuel for heat and power inaccessible to such areas. Virtual Pipelines can help solve this problem.
Green Gas injection to Natural Gas Pipeline Grid
Injecting bio-methane into existing gas pipelines will have certain advantages. It will help to:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Turn organic wastes into valuable transportation and heating fuel
- Better management of manure waste
Technological innovations enabled the natural gas industry to take many small steps for the mankind and several giant leaps for the US energy sector. We have restricted the post to the technologies that made extraction of natural gas easier over years. We will discuss turbine technology and how it is helping the US generate clean energy in the upcoming post. Keep checking our blog!