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The Differences Between Natural Gas and Oil

The Differences Between Natural Gas and Oil _ Blake Zimmerman

Natural gas and oil have a great deal in common, but many people don’t know what the differences are between them. Both are hydrocarbons that are formed from the remains of dead plants and animals over the course of millennia. A hydrocarbon is a molecule that contains hydrogen and carbon. Both oil and gas are forms of energy that are non-renewable. Oil and gas are both lighter than water, which is normally found in rock formations. Therefore, they are pushed upwards until they collect in reservoirs.

Economic Differences

Economically, oil and natural gas have always had a close relationship. Companies involved in oil are frequently also involved in natural gas. While drilling for oil, it’s common to discover natural gas reserves. Consumers historically have gone switched from one to the other as prices have changed. In more recent years, natural gas has come down in price due to discoveries of new reserves.

Molecular Differences

Natural gas and oil differ on a molecular level, despite the fact that they are both hydrocarbons. Oil is highly viscous and dense, while natural gas is the opposite. Natural gas is made up of mostly methane, which is the simplest hydrocarbon. This is actually advantageous because it makes it easier to process and refine for use commercially. Oil, on the other hand, is composed of complex hydrocarbons. Different oil deposits will have a different chemical make-up, which is difficult when it comes to refining. Unlike natural gas, obviously, oil is a liquid at room temperature. However, its viscosity can vary greatly.

Application Differences

Oil and natural gas also differ when it comes to the way they are used. Natural gas is used more often for heating, generating power, and industrial purposes. Oil is used for gasoline, fuel oil, asphalt, as well as the production of various products like plastic. Gas is a great choice as a fuel source since it gives off a great deal of light and heat. However, unlike other fuels like coal and oil, it doesn’t give off smoke and burns much brighter and cleaner. Gas is also safer, more reliable to transport, and generally more environmentally-friendly. While both oil and gas are used for heating, it’s cheaper to rely on natural gas. This has led to natural gas winning out when it comes to general industrial usage.

Originally posted on BlakeZimmermanHouston.com on May 15, 2019.

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How Blockchain Can Help the Power Grid

How Blockchain Can Help the Power Grid _ Blake Zimmerman Houston

In this article we explore the possibilities on how blockchain can help improve the power grid. To begin with, we must first understand the technology. Blockchain is a way to record and verify transactions without the need of a central entity to maintain or confirm the ledger. The blockchain technology is infamous for its peer-to-peer network of transactions for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

In the past, blockchain technology was being utilized for trading bitcoin. The trading was conducted via a network of distributed computers that would verify and record transactions. Now the blockchain is being looked into for other sectors. For example, blockchain is being taken into consideration for the utilization to cope with complex electric power systems.

In 2017, there’s been some start-up companies that have applied the blockchain technology to the energy sector. The goal of these startups is to trade electricity or even create new ones. Using blockchain will enable peer-to-peer transactions which can bypass a central utility or their energy provider. Another optimistic goal is to use the technology to track production of clean energy. Other proposals have included, making it easier to pay for charging electric vehicles, raise funds to deploy clean energy, manage customer appliances, and others. The exciting part of peer-to-peer transactions is the ability to trade electricity with one another. Essentially, a neighborhood would be able to trade excess energy with one another.

In regard to the grid transactions, there’s a range of other electricity trading applications available that are less essential than a truly decentralized peer-to-peer network. These options are more likely to gain commercial traction and support from utilities and regulatory authorities, because of the capability of utilizing the current electric power system in place.

One of the advantages of blockchain technology for the electric power, is the ability to record and sustain trade attribution. An example would be, renewable electricity and how much emissions would result from its production. Currently, systems are centrally managed, complicated, and prone to errors. However, the benefit of a decentralized blockchain network would provide transparency, accuracy, tracking, and trading. In addition, this would accelerate a clean energy deployment and carbon emissions reduction.

The blockchain networks could also enable private home owners to setup a charging infrastructure and seamlessly sell charging services to electric vehicle owners. Any way you cut it, blockchain offers incredible potential when it comes to enhancing the power grid.

Originally published on April 17, 2019 on BlakeZimmermanHouston.net.

Breaking Down Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

Breaking Down Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) | Blake Zimmerman

Liquefied Natural Gas, commonly known as LNG, has recently resurged as a popular news topic as officials seek more profitable and efficient ways to transport and export natural gas. The process was invented in the 19th century, but has become a topic of conversation in recent years as U.S. natural gas production increased.

Breaking Down the LNG Process

Liquefied Natural Gas is exactly what it sounds like: natural gas transformed into a liquid state. The process is completed by cooling natural gas to -260° Fahrenheit and then storing it in cryogenic containers for shipping. Liquefied Natural Gas is approximately 600 times smaller in volume than natural gas, enabling companies to import or export more natural gas with less space. Designated import/export terminals have been built that liquify the natural gas before exporting and regasify the liquid when importing or storing it until needed.

A Brief History of LNG

Liquifying natural gas is the most efficient way to transport the resource to destinations that need it but cannot be reached by or support natural gas pipelines. LNG is most commonly shipped on ocean tankers that contain extremely cold cryogenic tanks. The liquefaction process occurs at the export terminal before being transported and is then reverted back to its gaseous state at the import terminal.

The U.S. has only recently become one of the key players in LNG exports, thanks to increasing supplies of natural gas and expanded export terminals. For awhile, the U.S. relied rather heavily on LNG imports. Beginning in 1995, the United States starting importing larger and larger quantities of LNG. The import of the gas increased rapidly until 2007 when it peaked at 771 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Now, the United States exports over 700 Bcf of Liquefied Natural Gas to 28 countries, though it still imports LNG to areas whose pipelines and storage capacity are limited.

Natural gas is an incredibly important energy source both stateside and all around the world. In the U.S. alone, natural gas accounts for almost a third of primary energy and is the source of heating fuel for about half of all households. LNG gives the United States the ability to supply natural gas to areas that do not have functioning pipelines or the ability to store the substance long-term.


This post was originally published on BlakeZimmermanHouston.com on April 16, 2019.