The cost of natural gas and oil has continued to fall, thanks to production kicked into overdrive by widespread fracking projects across the United States. American consumers have benefited from increasing domestic production of gas and oil, according to Fox News. The American Petroleum Institute noted that both resources would be twice as expensive if not for greater gas and oil production on local shores. In addition, taking advantage of the country's natural resources over imports has saved consumers between $60 and $250 billion dollars in 2013 alone. The latest technological advances in fuel collection will make domestic production more efficient and effective, helping to keep household gas utility rates to a minimum.
Compressed liquid delivery system may be used in Hawaii
Hawaii Gas Co., the largest utility provider in Hawaii, has recently committed to converting 30 percent of its total fuel supply with natural gas, said Pacific Business Journal. The move is designed to take advantage of the low costs of natural gas and reduce costs for gas and electricity customers. Based on a recent meeting with SeaOne Maritime Corp., the state may be considering the implementation of a novel gas transportation system that could drive down the cost of natural gas to new lows.
SeaOne Maritime's compressed gas liquid system sets itself apart from traditional LNG transportation methods by combining multiple elements of natural gas production into a single solution. The CGL system is capable of conditioning, mixing and moving the fuel directly from remote, distant natural gas reserves directly to point of use. In addition to being an ideal solution for taking advantage of smaller, local natural gas reserves, SeaOne Maritime promises its method is substantially less expensive than dealing with liquid natural gas transportation. By selling its benefits to decision makers in Hawaii, the company hopes to integrate its CGL system in the state's long-term renewable energy strategy.
Artificial microbes designed to improve flaring production
Flaring is an enduring problem with the fracking method and reducing the inefficiencies that cause the phenomenon could help drive fuel prices for consumers even lower. Currently, natural gas companies are producing so much fuel that their infrastructure is overloaded, prone to leaks and forcing businesses to burn off the extra fuel. This practice denied the United States of quite a bit of usable natural gas in 2013, nearly $1 billion worth, said The Motley Fool. Even worse, fracking and leaks are responsible for 70 percent of the energy industry's methane emissions.
Industrial engineers at Intrexon have begun work on a methane-consuming microbe that can turn fracking waste into chemicals with profitable applications in various industries. The company hopes to incentivize fracking companies to reduce methane emissions by offsetting the falling cost of natural gas. With a revenue stream provided by a steady supply of extra methane, fracking companies will also be less concerned with natural gas providers lowering their costs further, a boon for utility customers nationwide.
Scale hydrocarbon conversion made possible through federal funding
One technological limitation that has kept natural gas production expensive is the need for large plants to perform conversions of natural gas from liquid to gaseous states and visa versa. According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, the Army has long worked on such technology, based on its potential to help soldiers produce their own fuel in the field. If such a process were perfected for commercial use, any natural gas well could easily be turned into a miniaturized power plant. This could greatly reduce the need to transport natural gas in the first place, helping to make costs for consumers even less expensive.
Technology firms like Velocys have picked up where government research in scale hydrocarbon conversion has off, developing a microchannel system that mixes catalysts and reactants as they flow in and out of a small reactor. Velocys is currently collaborating with auto manufacturers to develop strategies for mass production. Likewise, the company is working with fabrication companies in Alaska to develop a modular delivery system for its miniaturized hydrocarbon conversion facilities. If small-scale hydrocarbon plants can remove the need to develop additional large scale factories, then homeowners stand to save even more on their monthly gas bill.