Tag Archive | Natural gas

North America’s First Zoo Biogas Plant to be Built at the Toronto Zoo


ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc., a non-profit renewable energy co-operative, is set to develop the first North American zoo biogas facility at the Toronto Zoo. Biogas is a type of renewable energy that converts organic waste into energy and fertilizer using a process called anaerobic digestion. The specific types of organic waste that the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative will use at the Toronto Zoo will be animal waste and food waste from local grocery stores. The animal and food waste will be converted into electricity, heat and fertilizer, benefiting both the local community and the environment.

The process of anaerobic digestion begins with the waste being fed at regular intervals into an anaerobic digester. ZooShare Biogas Executive Director Daniel Bida likens the anaerobic digester to a big concrete stomach, wherein the organic waste is heated to 38 degrees Celsius and continuously mixed. About sixty days into this process, the waste is transformed into biogas (which consists of 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide gas) and digestate (fertilizer). The resulting biogas can be used to create electricity, piped into the natural gas grid, or converted into vehicle fuel, and the fertilizer is suitable for farms or backyard gardens.


Biogas has a number of benefits:

  1. It can generate electricity for twenty-four hours a day and for seven days a week.

  2. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. It diverts waste from landfills.

  4. It can be produced from any organic waste source.

  5. The end product is a nutrient-rich, odour-free fertilizer.

Construction of the Toronto Zoo biogas plant is slated for July of 2014, which could make the plant operational by December of 2014. The plant will consist of input and output tanks, an engine room and a classroom. All in all, it will occupy one and a half acres of the zoo’s land.

Although the construction cost is estimated at $5.4 million, the benefits of the biogas plant will be worth the cost. The 500-kilowatt plant will provide enough electricity to power over 250 households. In addition, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12,000 tonnes (the equivalent of removing 2,100 cars off the road).

To learn more about the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative, click here.

To read The Toronto Observer article on the ZooShare Biogas’ Toronto Zoo project, click here.


Why Is There More Methane in the Atmosphere?

Natural gas flares from a flare-head at the Orvis State well on a farm in McKenzie County, North Dakota.

In 2006, the scientists who monitor methane, a greenhouse gas about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, thought that concentrations of the gas, which had sharply risen in the 1980s, had plateaued.

“If you look at the entire record from the beginning to 2006, it looks like a chemical system that is approaching steady state,” said Edward Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory who monitors global methane emissions.

A puzzling aspect to this flattening of the methane trend was that, starting around 2000, China and other Asian countries were experiencing rapid development.

Read the full story here.

Natural Gas Saves Water, Even When Factoring in Water Lost to Hydraulic Fracturing

For every gallon of water used to produce natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, Texas saved 33 gallons of water by generating electricity with that natural gas instead of coal (in 2011).

Even though exploration for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing requires significant water consumption in Texas, the new consumption is easily offset by the overall water efficiencies of shifting electricity generation from coal to natural gas. The researchers estimate that water saved by shifting a power plant from coal to natural gas is 25 to 50 times as great as the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas. Natural gas also enhances drought resilience by providing so-called peaking plants to complement increasing wind generation, which doesn’t consume water.

The results of The University of Texas at Austin study are published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers estimate that in 2011 alone, Texas would have consumed an additional 32 billion gallons of water — enough to supply 870,000 average residents — if all its natural gas-fired power plants were instead coal-fired plants, even after factoring in the additional consumption of water for hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped at high pressure into a well to fracture surrounding rocks and allow oil or gas to more easily flow. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are the main drivers behind the current boom in U.S. natural gas production.

Read the full story here.

Ocean Crust Could Safely Lock Away CO2

Ocean crust.

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas has led to dramatically increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere causing climate change and ocean acidification. Although technologies are being developed to capture CO2 at major sources such as power stations, this will only work and help reduce the amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere if it is safely locked away.

So how does one capture and sequester carbon, and where in the world should we put it? According to researchers from the University of Southampton, the answer lies beneath the oceans in the igneous rocks of the upper ocean crust.

PhD student Chiara Marieni, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, investigated the physical properties of CO2 to develop global maps of the ocean floor to estimate where CO2 can be safely stored.



Read the full story here.


























UK ordered to install 70,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2020

UK ordered to install 70,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2020

European law-makers have passed a resolution that will compel the UK to install a network of 70,000 electric vehicle recharging points as well as hydrogen and natural gas stations by 2020.

The European Parliament today endorsed a draft directive that aims to reduce dependence on oil and boost take-up of alternative fuels, so as to help achieve a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050.

The draft rules would require member states to set targets for building publicly-available networks of electric vehicle recharging points and refueling stations for other alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by 2020.

The UK’s legally binding minimum number of publicly-accessible EV recharging points is currently set at 70,000, behind Germany’s target of 86,000 and Italy’s 72,000.

Read the full story here.

BC LNG: Natural Gas Minister’s extraordinary claims

The new enemy natural gas!

In a recent speech to the Union of BC Municipalities, BC’s Minister of Natural Gas Development makes some bullish claims on the future of BC’s nascent liquefied natural gas industry. Coleman describes himself as an “optimist”, championing a core BC Liberal policy that promises untold “prosperity” for the province from the industry, which intends to cool and ship massive amounts of fracked gas to new markets in Asia.

The Importance of a Sustainable Energy Plan

Do you have a Sustainable Energy Plan?

Creating a Sustainable Energy Plan is a simple, systematic way to examine, refine, and act on one of the most important aspects of a sustainable business. A plan lets you see where you are, decide what immediate positive changes your company can make, and create long-term practical and actionable goals. Why create a plan specifically about energy? Energy use is your most important environmental impact.

For many companies, if you draw a line around your operations — ignoring suppliers and ignoring physical products — your largest potential to do environmental harm comes from your company energy use. Your energy use includes electricity, employee travel, employee commuting and natural gas. And usually, they’re in that order from standpoint of environmental harm.

Read the full story here.

Natural Gas May Be Easier On Climate Than Coal, Despite Methane Leaks

A rig drills a hydraulic fracturing well for natural gas outside Rifle, Colo.

From the standpoint of global warming, burning natural gas can be better than burning coal, a study published this week suggests.

This is a contentious issue among people who are opposed to the natural gas drilling practice known as fracking. That technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to release far more gas than conventional drilling can. Opponents of fracking have been concerned not only about local environmental issues, but also about the potential for methane leaks to make global warming worse.

Even though natural gas burns much cleaner than coal, the main constituent, methane, also leaks into the atmosphere during production. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, so those leaks could potentially wipe out the climate benefits of natural gas.

And fracking technology took off before anyone really understood how much natural gas leaks out in the process.

“We wanted to go out and collect some of the first data on some of the new types of operations underway in natural gas production and what the methane emissions are,” says David Allen, an engineering professor at the University of Texas in Austin.

Allen got funding from the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as support from nine major companies that volunteered to participate in the study. His conclusion: Currently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency greatly overestimates methane emissions from a new well that is being prepared to produce gas for the first time. But he found that the EPA also greatly underestimates emissions from wells that are already in production. And when you add the whole thing up, it’s basically a wash, Allen says.

Read the full story here.

For Natural Gas-Fueled Cars, Long Road Looms Ahead

A taxi driver fills his cab with compressed natural gas (CNG) in San Francisco, California.

The natural gas industry is making a big push for passenger vehicles that can run on either natural gas or gasoline. As a demonstration, the industry group America’s Natural Gas Alliance this summer unveiled six vehicle models retrofitted with these fuel systems for less than $3,000 apiece. And starting next year, Ford plans to equip a version of its best-selling pickup truck, the F-150, to run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). (See related quiz: “What You Don’t Know About Natural Gas.”)

Today the choices for an American motorist looking to buy a CNG car are extremely limited. A handful of work trucks and cargo vans available in the 2013 model year can be purchased with a fuel system equipped to use gasoline or CNG, but only one CNG passenger car—Honda’s natural gas Civic sedan—is currently available to U.S. consumers without an aftermarket retrofit. For the past two years, a group of governors—led by energy states Oklahoma and Colorado—has been urging Detroit to put more natural gas vehicles on the market with pledges to expand their public fleet purchases.

Read the full story here.

Fractured Land Documentary

The B.C. and federal governments are in the process of approving three LNG liquefaction plants in the Great Bear—with seven more on horizon—and the associated pipelines that would stretch across the province and through the rainforest.

Natural gas is extracted from deep in the earth’s crust using an ecologically destructive process called fracking (check out some facts on fracking here). Pipelines would be built to then send the gas to the Great Bear Rainforest where new LNG terminals would liquefy the gas so that it can be transported by tanker to overseas markets.

Read the full story here and take action!