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FEI, University of Oklahoma collaborate to develop unconventional oil, gas resources

June 6, 2013 12:14 pm | News | Comments

A research collaboration agreement has been formed between imaging company FEI and the University of Oklahoma to establish an oil and gas center of excellence. Called the FEI-OU Pore Scale Characterization Laboratory, the center will focus on the development of routine quantitative methods to classify shales in the economic assessment of tight oil and gas plays.

Miss. regulators consider energy-efficiency rules

June 5, 2013 11:07 am | by JEFF AMY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A number of utilities and consumer groups say they support proposed rules that would require Mississippi electric and gas utilities to implement programs to save energy. However, Mississippi Power Co. says it opposes the rules because bills could rise for customers who don't make homes or businesses more efficient. The Public Service Commission began considering energy-efficiency rules in early 2010.

Sandia, SRI International sign pact to advance hydrogen gas research

May 30, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories and SRI International will join forces to explore, test and evaluate a broad range of hydrogen and natural gas fuel systems and components for transportation applications under a new agreement. The five-year memorandum of understanding is the first agreement in Sandia’s new Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation, an alternative fuel research and innovation facility.

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Industry giant GE aims to improve fracking

May 27, 2013 11:35 am | by KEVIN BEGOS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

One of America's corporate giants is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling, or fracking. General Electric Co. is opening a new laboratory in Oklahoma, buying up related companies, and placing a big bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients and reduce the environmental and health effects of the boom.

New study: Fracking hasn't polluted Arkansas water

May 16, 2013 5:58 pm | by KEVIN BEGOS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas hasn't contaminated drinking water wells in Arkansas, according to a new study, but researchers said the geology there may be more of a natural barrier to pollution than in other areas where shale gas drilling takes place.

Groundwater unaffected by shale gas production in Arkansas

May 15, 2013 11:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists sampling 127 shallow drinking water wells in areas overlying Fayetteville Shale gas production in north-central Arkansas found no evidence of groundwater contamination. The team of scientists at Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) analyzed the samples for major and trace elements and hydrocarbons, and used isotopic tracers to identify the sources of possible contaminants.

Fracking brings economic boost, but risks raise concerns

May 14, 2013 2:42 pm | News | Comments

Most Michigan and Pennsylvania residents say fracking is good for the economy, but have concerns about chemicals used and other environmental risks, according to a University of Michigan survey. Fracking is the common term for hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground through encased wells at high pressure to create and expand fractures in the shale rock.

Natural gas export plans stir debate

May 13, 2013 3:19 am | by MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster. Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.

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Mechanism converts natural gas to energy faster, capture CO2

May 7, 2013 11:36 am | News | Comments

Chemical engineers have identified a new mechanism to convert natural gas into energy up to 70 times faster. The technique improves on chemical looping, in which a solid, oxygen-laden material—called an “oxygen carrier”—is put in contact with natural gas to cause combustion. The newly developed oxygen carrier shuttles oxygen atoms into the natural gas very efficiently.

New technology propels “old energy” boom

May 6, 2013 9:38 am | by Jonathan Fahey, AP Energy Writer | News | Comments

Oil companies big and small have used technology to find a bounty of oil and natural gas so large that worries about running out have melted away. New imaging technologies let drillers find oil and gas trapped miles underground and undersea. The result is an abundance that has put the United States on track to become the world's largest producer of oil and gas in a few years.

EPA methane report further divides fracking camps

April 28, 2013 5:11 pm | by Kevin Begos, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production. This shift has major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists, which is whether the recent boom in fracking helps or hurts the fight against climate change.

A solar booster shot for natural gas power plants

April 11, 2013 12:58 pm | News | Comments

Natural gas power plants can use about 20% less fuel when the sun is shining by injecting solar energy into natural gas with a new system being developed by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The system converts natural gas and sunlight into a more energy-rich fuel called syngas, which power plants can burn to make electricity.

GE to acquire Lufkin Industries

April 9, 2013 3:44 am | News | Comments

GE and Lufkin Industries Inc. announced this week a joint agreement whereby GE will acquire Lufkin Industries Inc., a leading provider of artificial lift technologies for the oil and gas industry and a manufacturer of industrial gears, for approximately $3.3 billion. The move accelerates GE’s growth in artificial lift with solutions for a wider variety of well types.

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New emissions standards would fuel shift from coal to natural gas

April 5, 2013 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Tougher EPA air-quality standards could spur an increased shift away from coal and toward natural gas for electricity generation, according to a new Duke University study. Complying with stricter regulations on sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and mercury may make nearly two-thirds of the nation's coal-fired power plants as expensive to run as plants powered by natural gas. The regulations would make 65% of U.S. coal plants as expensive as natural gas, even if gas prices rise significantly.

Cryo-electron microscopy unlocks biochemical methane production

March 20, 2013 2:17 pm | News | Comments

The biological sources of methane are wide-ranging. However, the conditions have to be always oxygen-free and the exact mechanism has been unclear. A team of researchers in Germany has gained insight into microbiological methane production by explaining the structure of a hydrogenase used by archaebacteria to split hydrogen to produce methane

Researchers map out an alternative energy future for New York

March 12, 2013 2:39 pm | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment | News | Comments

Hydraulic fracturing may soon be approved for the state of New York. However, a new study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert New York's all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by wind, water, and sunlight. The authors say that overall switch would reduce New York's end-use power demand by about 37% and stabilize energy prices.

New Fischer-Tropsch catalyst invented in Amsterdam

March 5, 2013 9:38 am | News | Comments

The Fischer-Tropsch process is used for producing fuels from synthesis gas, which in turn is made from natural gas, biomass, or coal. Large reserves of shale or natural gas now changing the world energy market have raised interest in this technology, but prior reactors have been too bulky. Inspired by patents from the 1960s audio cassette recording industry, University of Amsterdam chemists have recently developed a new Fischer-Tropsch catalyst that is significantly cheaper and more scalable.

Purification on the cheap

February 5, 2013 7:42 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Increased natural gas production is seen as a crucial step away from the greenhouse gas emissions of coal plants and toward U.S. energy independence. But natural gas wells have problems: Large volumes of deep water, often heavily laden with salts and minerals, flow out along with the gas. That so-called “produced water” must be disposed of, or cleaned. Now, a process developed by engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could solve the problem and produce clean water at relatively low cost.

Energy industry develops nontoxic fracking fluids

February 3, 2013 12:23 pm | by KEVIN BEGOS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for the drilling process known as fracking, but it's not clear whether the new product will be widely embraced by drilling companies. Houston-based energy giant Halliburton Inc. has developed a product called CleanStim, which uses only food-industry ingredients. Other companies have developed nontoxic fluids as well.

Study: Hydraulic fracturing produces less wastewater per unit of gas

February 1, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

Hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are producing less wastewater per unit of gas recovered than conventional wells would. But the scale of fracking operations in the Marcellus shale region is so vast that the wastewater it produces threatens to overwhelm the region's wastewater disposal capacity, according to new analysis by researchers at Duke and Kent State universities.

Analysis of fracking wastewater yields some surprises

January 22, 2013 10:07 am | News | Comments

Hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are producing less wastewater per unit of gas recovered than conventional wells would. But the scale of fracking operations in the Marcellus shale region is so vast that the wastewater it produces threatens to overwhelm the region's wastewater disposal capacity, according to new analysis by researchers at Duke and Kent State universities.

New quest to find other uses for abundant natural gas

December 21, 2012 9:08 am | News | Comments

Little more than a decade ago, the United States imported much of its natural gas. Today, the nation is tapping into its own natural gas reserves and is beginning to export natural gas to other countries. Experts are now looking to develop innovative processes that can readily and cost effectively make chemical intermediates like ethylene and propylene from natural gas instead of petroleum, which is declining in use.

Energy experts say drilling can be made cleaner

December 11, 2012 8:46 am | by Kevin Begos and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | News | Comments

In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.

LLNL receives grant for underground coal gasification work

December 4, 2012 8:35 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Underground Coal Gasification Program has received a two-year research grant to study water-quality hazard mitigation strategies from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

DNA analysis of microbes in a fracking site yields surprises

December 3, 2012 3:15 pm | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University | News | Comments

Researchers have made a genetic analysis of the microbes living deep inside a deposit of Marcellus Shale at a hydraulic fracturing. They expected to find many tough microbes, such as single-celled archaea, suited to extreme environments. Instead, they found very few genetic biomarkers for archaea, and many more for species that derive from bacteria.They also found that the populations of microbes changed dramatically over a short period of time.

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