Fuels

Branch Russell, Don Stevens, and Michael Godec

CONTENTS

13.1 Fuels Overview

13.1.1 Fuel Consumption

13.2 Natural Gas and Natural Gas Derivatives

13.2.1 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

13.2.2 Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

13.2.3 Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

13.2.4 Propane

13.3 Historical Gas Market Projections — Lessons from the Past

13.3.1 North America's Gas Resources

13.3.2 Technology Advances in Exploration and Production

13.4 Conventional Liquid Petroleum Fuels (Diesel and Kerosene, Naptha)

13.4.1 Diesel

13.4.2 Kerosene

13.5 Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Fuels

13.6 Biomass

13.6.1 Advanced Biomass Conversion Technologies

13.6.2 Biomass Fuel Characteristics

13.6.3 Biomass Costs and Availability

13.6.4 Transportation and Storage Costs

13.6.5 Gasification

13.7 Hydrogen

13.7.1 The Current State of H2 Technology

13.7.2 Storage and Transport References

Additional Reading

This chapter begins with a discussion of power generation fuel types, sources, compositions, distribution infrastructure, and handling characteristics. North America's natural gas resources are summarized; future recoverable reserves are estimated. An overview of Fischer-Tropsch (FT) gas-to-liquids (GTL) and biomass fuel technologies completes the chapter.

Appropriate available fuel supply is a major factor in determining the suitability of a DG technology for a given site and will play a dominant role in the shape of the DG energy production industry. This chapter is intended to familiarize end users with the fuels available for on-site generation. Each alternative fuel has its own setup costs in terms of capital equipment, space requirements, safety, and environmental considerations.

Natural gas and diesel (fuel oil) are the most prevalent fuel types in use for small-scale power generation technologies today. Propane, LPG, naphtha, and kerosene are also important. At present, only small volumes of biomass fuels and synthetic fuels from FT GTL conversion, methanol, and hydrogen are produced and distributed as fuels. Active debate centers on what fuel will take the place of conventional petroleum fuels during the 21st century. Production of synthetic fuels compatible with the present distribution infrastructure is anticipated to grow significantly during the near to medium term. In the long term (>20 years), hydrogen is anticipated to become an important fuel.

Internal combustion engines can run on conventional liquid fuels or be converted to operate on gaseous hydrocarbon fuels. Turbines can operate on a variety of fuels including low-Btu vent gas from landfills or industrial operations such as steel furnaces. Natural gas, LPG, methanol, ethanol, gasoline, diesel, and synthetic fuels are under active evaluation as base fuels for fuel cells. The wide-scale direct production of hydrogen is also being studied.

The choice of fuel, like the choice of any commodity, is dictated by environmental benefits, equipment requirements, price, energy density, purity (contaminant content including sulfur, aromatics, and metals), reliability of supply, distribution infrastructure, and storage. If natural gas is available via pipeline, it will likely be the fuel of choice for DG applications. When this is not the case, the fuel choice becomes much more complicated.

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