Re: Ice Storm in Michigan - generators

Bill Cromwell

On 12/30/2013 05:20 PM, wrote:
Question - Do natural gas lines ever shut down? Are they pressurized with
air, and if so, how reliable are the pumps?

Hi Wendell,

Every source of service of any kind is subject to failure. Natural gas is a heavy hitter here - in widespread use. I started paying attention to service outages, availability, and costs in the 50s. I have experienced exactly one natural gas delivery failure in all that time. It lasted almost 4 hours! It occurred because the construction company that installed the sanitary sewer damaged a gas main while doing their work. The service is very reliable. But everything is subject to change.

Natural gas is one of the two cheapest energy sources. It took me a long time to round up the information to price heating fuels in terms of BTUs per dollar. When I did natural gas cam out on top for pricing. Next is firewood. next is kerosene and "fuel oil" with propane coming in a bit higher. Way up at the top of the list - costing the most by far is electricity. And now just guess which one is the least reliable - electricity.

Natural gas isn't pressurized by air. We don't want air mixed in with the gas. With no air it cannot burn. We do NOT want it to burn in the pipeline! Burners for any fuel have to be mixed with air from the local atmosphere in the right ratios to burn efficiently. We can't do that very well if we have air in varying amounts already in it when it is delivered. The gas can be pressurized the same way as air. It's in the gas company's best interest to see that their plant is reliable and maintained and that is also in our best interest. It seems the electric utilities have lost their view of that concept.

This is getting really far off topic even though it relates in several ways to ham radio activity. I'll be happy to discuss it further but off list.


Bill KU8H

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