Why Can't Natural Gas be Bottled ?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I keep hearing about the free natural gas in WV and I can't understand why --if they bottle propane Than why they can't bottle Natural Gas? Could someone with a better comprehension of natural elements explain this to me ? Or is this one of those "For your safty and my profit margin" issues ?

-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), April 15, 2000


The quick and dirty response is that it can, but because it has a much lower btu content compared to LP it isn't commonly done. There are several factors that go into it though so I;ll do a little homework and get back to you.

-- john leake (natlivent@pcpros.net), April 15, 2000.

natural gas can be bottled and is by some of the gas company's in major cities -they use it to power their vehicles - but it has to be compressed at very high pressure and the tanks for holding it have to be quite strong -similar to tanks for welding gasses which are heavy and bulky with not as much capacity as LP tanks


-- jay (jay@townsqr.com), April 15, 2000.

I have a 500 gallon LP tank for propane. I just read the psi rating 7500 psi burst at -300 feet. Is that stong enough for natural gas? I know I can get free natural gas and convert my HWH and furnace but can I get it to propel itself into the house just using compressed gas ?

-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), April 15, 2000.

Natural gas is compressed and bottled or tanked. It is usually known as CNG or compressed natural gas. As stated, utility companies in many cities use it in their vehicles. Also the postal service has done some tests with it as a fuel replacement for gasoline in their delivery vehicles. I'm not sure, but I think that you can order a new Ford pickup truck that is CNG ready.

-- greenbeanman (greenbeanman@ourtownusa.net), April 15, 2000.

No! The LP tank is not suitable for the amount of pressure needed. If you have a well on your property and you just want to get the gas to your point of use all you should need is piping and a regulator to adjust the pressure.Natural gas is usually just compressed for portable use.


-- jay (jay@townsqr.com), April 15, 2000.

Thank You ! I will search for a 500 gallon tank suitable for compressed natural gas. I want to be able to put it on my flatbed trailer and take it to WV --fill up and return it home. I do not have a NG well--but my friends in WV do !

-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), April 15, 2000.

Joel: Unless you're thinking about using the cng for vehicle fuel the pressures required for cng are HIGH, around 3000psi I think. A 500 gallon tank capable of handling that pressure would be very costly. Also, are you sure the LP tank says 7500psi and not 750psi? That seems more likely to me.

Something you can do to figure out approx the storage capacity of the tank you have follows:

Determine the volume of the tank. (3.14pi x radius squared x length of tank) convert the number into cubic feet.

for every 14.7 pounds of pressure you put into the tank you double the amount of gas in the tank. If you put 300lbs of pressure in the tank you will have 20.4 times the volume of the tank in natural gas. In other words if the tank has 100 cubic feet in capacity at atmospheric pressure and you fill it to 300psi you will have 204cubic feet of gas in it. A cubic foot of natural gas has about 1000btu/cubic foot. The bottom line is you'll have about 2 therms of gas in the tank or about $1.50, depending on what you pay per therm.

As to the original question you asked, I cant find the appropriate chart right now to make the conversion to see how natural gas compares to LPG but heres how to do it.

LPG has 91,600 btu/gal which can be converted to a volumetric measurement cubic feet/gal and lpg is a liquid under pressure

natural gas has 1000/btu/cubic ft

You need to find the specific gravity of natural gas and determine the number of cubic feet to make a lb. The same is true for LPG. Its hard to get an apples to apples comparison until you break them down into a common unit of measurement. Good luck!

-- john leake (natlivent@pcpros.net), April 15, 2000.

Thank You --John I'll run some algebra on that tommorow--The tank does claim a 7500 psi burst pressure. This is an experiment to me--free vs 385 gallons a year @ 1.45 a gallon. Let us see what we come up with? Thanks again ! Joel

-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), April 15, 2000.

Joel! If you do find a 500 gal tank equipped and certified for natural gas, you won't be able to fill and transport it unless it is a certified cargo tank. I've never seen or heard of one for natural gas but then again, I've not been looking for one either. I formerly dealt in L.P. Hope you can find one without costing an arm and leg. Matt. 24:44

-- hoot gibson (hoot@otbnet.com), April 16, 2000.

Not even cleverly disquised as a trailer load of hay?

-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), April 16, 2000.

I'm going to pitch in a little here. If you just bottle "gas" you've basically got a ballon. There isn't all that much gas in the container. So the gasses are pressurized enough to liquify them. (Have you ever noticed the "sweat line" on a propane tank?)There is more potential gas in the liquid than you could fit into the same container as a gas.

So to make it reasonable to transport gas for any distance (excepting pipelines), you need to liquify it with pressure. Methane has one carbon atom, ethane two, propane 3 and butane 4. Therefore the butane molecule has a longer chain than the others. That makes it liquify at a lower pressure. Butane cigarette lighters only need a few psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure to liquify the gas. Propane has a shorter molecular chain, but still is easier to liquify (at room temperature it will liquify at around 100 psi) than methane (natural gas). To compress methane will take a psi a great great deal higher. You'll need a special compressor and special very heavy tanks to put it in. I'm guessing that a tank the size of a propane tank of 100#, would require walls at least between 3/4 and 1 inch thick, plus safety valves. The larger the vessel (tank) the thicker the walls have to be.

Be aware that you could go BOOM very easily at any point in your venture. Assuming you do find a tank and manage to get some gas in it, you will fall under Class 2-Gases, Division 2.1 I believe. You will also fall under guide 115 if you have any sort of trouble, be it leak or worse. There is a risk of fire, explosion, asphyxiation, and even frostbite. A small spill or leak can require the evacuation of people to up to 330 feet away, a larger spill or leak calls for evacuation up to one mile downwind and in all directions if personal at the scene deem it needful. That includes all those nice people from the fire department and ambulance. Especially if they don't know what on earth you have on your vehicle, they're going to be a lot more worried about evacuating the surrounding areas. Few if any fire departments have a way to send a hose line in remotely from even 330', I know of none that can do it from a mile away. So if you are involved in an accident, it could be a very long time until anyone ventures in to help you.

I fully understand your reasoning to save money, and nobody hates red tape more than I do, but I think you're sawing off the tree limb you're sitting on. I don't know what the legal penalty would be if you got caught simply transporting a tank of gas without a placard, I do know that if anything bad happens, your life and your families lives will become a living hell for a very long time. The lawyers would also include your friends with the well in the mess. The well owners may also have a contract with a gas company that prohibits them from doing anything that removes the gas from their property.

How about you post again, asking everybody for some heat-saving ideas for your house? Gotta be something you can improve on and it would be a whole lot safer. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), April 16, 2000.

Joel! In reference to the "disguised in hay" is hilarious! Yes, absolutely, until you get caught. You WILL get caught! I don't know what state you live in but in Illinois you could "forget" your future. It would already be determined for you, your kids and almost anybody you'd shaken hands with over-say the last 20 years or so! Seriously, the gas would have to be pressurized [somebody else above posted it too] enought to liquidfy it. The pressure would be so tremendous [I've forgotten how much it would require-900psi?] and if you had a cargo tank that would withstand it-the whole conglomeration would be so heavy you'd need a 5 axel just to transport it. If you placared it as 1075 [which is L.P.] then you could start with a $10,000 fine. A L.P. cargo tank would not withstand the working pressure of Liquid Natural Gas. Possibly an ammonia tank? Then the next question-where to get the proper fittings and most importantly- relief valves for LNG. If-you succeeded in transporting in an approved cargo tank- transportation would be rather tricky. Heat buildup most likely would cause a "blevy". Usually in a blevy, the ends of the tank would separate from the tank body because the relief valves could not relieve the excessive pressure quickly enough. My opinion? Forget it. I don't know you but I do enjoy your posts and would like to continue reading them. Old Hoot Gibson. Matt. 24:44

-- hoot gibson (hoot@otbnet.com), April 16, 2000.

A couple other things I forgot to mention. You'd need a compressor capable of pressurizing the tank to 3000psi and you'd want to odorize the gas. Methane (natural gas) is odorless. To odorize the gas you'd need ethyl mercaptan to provide the smell lp or commercial natural gas has. All in all probably not a good idea, though I can see why you want to do it.

-- john leake (natlivent@pcpros.net), April 18, 2000.

Just my 2 cents worth; maybe you could store your methane (natural gas) by absorbing it into a solid material like ammonia is absorbed into calcuim cloride salts? Since you probably dont have the equipment to make a methane hydrate like that which forms naturally in the deep sea maybe you could use activated carbon? I vaguely remember an article in a magazine (Popular Science maybe?) about somebody making a system using activated carbon for methane storage with a test fleet of vehicles, Im sorry but I just dont remember any real details


-- Dave (transmach@hotmail.com), April 23, 2000.

bottled natural gas i ran 3cars on it for about 3 years where was filling station in my area the tanks are the size of large accetoline tanks heavey solid steel range was 100-125 miles for a 2 liter engine at the time a fillup would cost 5.00$ with a flip of a switch you go to gasoline or back they were fine for in city but no whare to fill out of town installation was free the canadian gov. paid for it but the program ended and i still have the bottles and regulators carbs some drivers feired getting in to the cars some quit smokeing in winter power was better than gasoline on cold days

-- nick (raymondetdesrosier@smpatico.ca), January 25, 2001.

I profess a lot of ignorance about this, but in historical interest, there were cars running on bottled natural gas that were pulled in little trailers behind the car during WWII. I saw it in newsreel footage. Somewhere there have to be plans for this out there.

-- Julie Froelich (firefly1@nnex.net), January 27, 2001.

How stable is natural gas in a compressed state? What sort of temperature/pressure is needed to make it explode? What kind of static charge could be generated on a tank in transport that might make little pieces out of you??? Things you might want to know.

(All this ignorance from a guy who got knocked off a ladder in the middle of trimming a tree limb this weekend. I think other forms of energy would be the ticket. Ouch .....)

-- Dave in MN (peasedj@sparc.isl.net), June 25, 2001.

I am in the possession of free gas, except it IS different from what the gas stations that sell Natural Gas for vehicles have. Free gas is great to run the water heater, stove, furnace, space heater, and hot tub heater. Soon to run the fridge if I have anything to say!! But truly, some treatment would have to be done to run the car, at cost to me. Not worth it, even thought there are natural gas dispensers (sellers) throughout the state. Please be safe. And consider that gas is still cheaper per gallon than milk and many other items.

-- Anne (HealthyTouch101@wildmail.com), June 25, 2001.

Good point Anne, in this country if I go to the petrol station and buy bottled water it costs more than the petrol for my car!

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), June 25, 2001.

Hey Joel681----your e-mail addy is null and void. Sorry if you missed some info, but wishing you well.

-- Anne (HealthyTouch101@wildmail.com), June 25, 2001.

WOW! This has been one of the most informative threads I've ever read.

Thank you all for the great education in Natural Gas.

And that was funny about the stuff being disquised as a load of hay. LOL

Joel, after reading all of the above, I hope you don't try this stunt. Have you considered moving to WV? I believe there are places for sale that have free gas.

-- L>B>D, Maryland (lavenderbluedilly@hotmail.com), June 26, 2001.

These are exacltly the reasons our country has the energy problems it faces. No one seem able to think out side the "law" to design and market safe and useable products to use our vast resources of natural gases. Laws are made to keep us and our neighbors safe but why are we just looking at what we can't do instead of changing our industry and laws to make our nation less dependent on our economic drain to our enemies.

-- Steve Humphries (st13hun@people.com), January 16, 2002.

An interesting older thread. :)

Natural gas has low energy, but is a wonderful cheap source of energy. However, it needs to be fed from a pipe. It just does _not_ bottle well & travel well. It's the laws of physics, not the laws of man that are the problem.

You have to compress these gases into a liquid to make it possible to transport a real amount of them in a tank. LP takes a little pressure & it changes from a gas to a liquid. Natural gas takes a _lot_ of pressure to transform from a gas to a liquid.

It's easy to contain & regulate a little pressure. It is hard & expensive to contain & regulate a _lot_ of pressure.

So, use natural gas where it is, or run a pipeline for it. Don't try to move it in a tank, you lose all efficency very quickly.


-- paul (ramblerplm@hotmail.com), January 16, 2002.

Well said, PAul. I learned a lot about methane when I worked on a manure digester project at the Univiersity when I was a grad student (about a bazillion years ago). We'd digest the mmanure to make methane gas which was supposed to be used by the farmer for energy. Problem is, we had no good way of storing the methane produced. The methane molecule is a perfectly symmetrical sphere, unlike other gases. Because of this shape, it uses uses all the volume in a given container (if that makes sense) when it is at atmosheric pressure. There really is no space or voids for these molecules to fill when the container is then put under pressure. Like water, methane cannot (easily) be compressed. --Happy trails, Cabin Fever

-- Cabin Fever (cabinfever_mn@yahoo.com), January 16, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ