Big Factors of Gas & Electricity

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The media is relatively quiet about the natural gas revolution.

Why? It has just started and because the “powers that be” are more interested in wind and solar power. Why? The hippy generation which spawned the green revolution has a religion – a belief beyond reason – and that belief contains a sub-belief that all gas and oil (fossil fuels) are the devil destroying the god head which is mother earth.

However, converting the USA to natural gas is the natural path.

Fortunes will be made by those who jump on this train now. If you’re a welder and sick of low wages, take a few minutes to read this. Why? The train is leaving the station in spite of the radical green movement because it just makes too much common sense and too much dollars and cents.

Natural gas is now so plentiful in the USA it is being exported from special shipping ports (the first two are in operation as of 2014). The ships are like a big bottle. USA natural gas is cheap and like water – it is everywhere. The USA is the largest producer of natural gas and experts agree – it will be for at least 100 years.

The seldom told story:

Global warming is now called “climate change” as winters get colder and the Great Lakes freeze over like they have not for decades. (After a while it just seemed “wrong” to call it global “warming.”

Some blame increased carbon emissions from industry and cars.

Yes, the carbon content in the air we breathe has increased very slightly – but man’s emissions are not causing the seemingly wild weather changes. In fact, the big storms we are having would have been considered “normal” just 50 years ago.

So, we have one side of the argument says that the increase in carbon is too small to have any effect on the weather – while the other side says increased carbon is dooms day. BUT both sides agree – everyone on earth needs to work toward fewer carbon emissions for many reasons – if for no other reason than because we breathe oxygen and carbon displaces it.

I can’t write this article without telling you that as we crush our own coal industry, prematurely closing clean coal power plants and mines:

China gleefully completes another new coal fired power plant every week! Sadly, because of this, all our carbon reduction efforts are equal to peeing into a bucket without a bottom. In addition, all the carbon reduction efforts across the world can be replaced by the emissions from one good volcano going active – and a few erupt each year.

Why this matters to you:

There is just no stopping the push for fewer carbon emissions, for many reasons – like it or not. However, the public is falsely led to believe the answer is to switch to solar and wind as possible and regardless of cost.

The nasty little truth about solar and wind is the hidden cost. Solar and wind are crazy expensive and only work from an economic perspective because governments are heavily subsidizing the installation of these systems.

The chickens coming home soon to roost are this: We are going to have to face cost realities soon – no government can continue to carry the financial burden of massive subsidies.

As soon as they shut off the “free money” (which actually funded by you and me paying higher taxes and utility bills – you are actually buying your neighbor’s solar system) the party will be over for radical alternative energy systems.

What’s the answer?

The answer is already happening. It is the conversion of everything possible to natural gas power. You won’t see this in the media but the USA has dramatically lowered carbon output in the last few years by converting power plants from oil and coal to natural gas and by building new power plants that use only natural gas.

God willing, China will finally come around and stop crapping all over our environment – and it will eventually be worth all the efforts we are making to reduce carbon. The bottom line is, we are going “natural gas” and FAST and no matter what.

What powered the city bus you rode yesterday?

It is very likely you rode a diesel bus (or taxi and soon trains) in which the diesel engine was converted to burn natural gas. The revolution to natural gas is underway.

What is causing the huge demand for pipe welders?

Natural gas requires mainline pipes, branch pipes and complex piping distribution and pumping stations. Every joint must be welded by a pipeline welder – a 6G code qualified welder.

If you are reading this and thinking about a career in welding:

The demand for pipe welders is through the roof while the average welder’s age just hit 56 years old. Few men and women are being trained to take the place of these soon-to-retire welders.

High demand means high pay.

This coupled with explosive growth in the natural gas industry for the next 20 years means consistently high wages and full employment for those who pick up the challenge of learning to code weld pipe to X-Ray quality standards.

How much is good pay?

As of 2014, if you are a code certified 6G welder with experience, you will make $100,000 a year. If you operate your own truck – look for $150k to $200k and in some places, up to $300k a year. Yes, you’ll do some traveling. It isn’t easy to break in and become a trusted and proven pipe welder because the work is critical and failure rates must be at or about 2% – that means you can only have 2 joints out of 100 fail inspection by a CWI – a Certified Welding Inspector. The cost to rework your bad work is just too high to allow higher failure rates.

What are some of the things that will soon be converted to natural gas?

Almost anything that runs on gas or diesel will run much longer and much cleaner on CNG. Semi tractor trailer trucks will soon be converted by the millions to natural gas.

If you understand how a diesel engine works – the fuel is ignited by compression – there is no ignition (no spark plugs). The speed of the engine is determined by how much fuel is injected into the cylinders. Unlike a gasoline engine, there is no control on the air to the engine – diesels get all the air they can breathe. An air valve is added to run CNG.

The method of running a diesel on natural gas is to reduce the amount of diesel to 10% and introduce 90% natural gas. The 10% diesel ignites under compression thus igniting the natural gas. Diesel engines last much longer running natural gas and require fewer oil changes. This is because natural gas does not dirty an engine with carbon.

GM and Honda produce vehicles that run on natural gas now.

Honda make a Civic that runs on CNG (compressed Natural Gas) and GM makes a full size work van. In some parts of the USA if you are arrested, the police cruiser making the arrest may already be running on natural gas. You can buy a used Ford police cruiser now.

There are companies that will convert your car to natural gas and provide a compressor so you can fill your car at home for about 10 cents a gallon. Do you think that natural gas might soon be popular if you can fill up at home for 10 cents a gallon?

Air conditioning systems for homes running on natural gas are coming fast.

The units are now being manufactured. They work on the same principal used in RV refrigerators – ammonia in a closed system is heated – and when it is heated, it is sprayed into a coil becoming gas.

Ammonia, once heated, gives off cold until it returns to a liquid and it is heated again, producing more cold! Only a handful of these AC units have been installed in homes, but that will change – the savings are substantial.

Co-Generation:

Co-Gen is a system that takes the waste heat produced by a generator engine running on natural gas and capture it. This means that a small, very quiet generator sitting on the side of your house, can provide electricity and hot water for much less than paying the power company. They already exist. This system has the added advantage of acting as a back up generator in rural areas.

Conclusion:

Contrary to popular belief – you can teach yourself 6G pipe welding at home. The most common starting point is to master stick (SMAW) welding in the 6G position first. However, if you are interested in welding stainless pipe as career (also in high demand) you can teach yourself 6G using the TIG (GTAW) process first – it is up to you.

The USA is one of a few countries which does not have laws or rules that prevent you from learning the highest paying welding skill first – the skill of welding medium and high pressure pipe. The only thing that stops 99% of want-to-welders is tradition.

Yes, you can skip all the other minor welding skill and go straight to the top – when you attend “YOU” trade school. It is almost as simple as following directions and practicing perfect practice. In other words, you must know that your practice is correct or you will only become good at doing the wrong thing.

It isn’t easy, but it is more than possible. North Dakota, Texas and now many other States have thousands of jobs waiting for you.

All welding schools are expensive.

All welding schools will consume much your time helping you to acquire welding skills that prepare you for a $10 an hour job. This is why some people think welding is crazy. Welding isn’t crazy, the system is. All it takes is the courage and determination to be an “outlier” – a person who thinks outside the flock of sheep – willing to buck the system.

Finding a welding school that will pay you to learn is nearly impossible.

However, it is very possible to pay yourself well, by saving buckets of money and time by finding your American entrepreneur spirit. Start welding only on round objects (pipe) and don’t look back. You’ll never be out of work.

Some union locals will fast track you into pipe welding if you walk in with a decent test joint – one you welded at home because it is physical proof that you are a good way along – and they will admire you for your grit in having gotten that far. It is possible to practice at home for as little 30 days to get to the point where the union will stand up and take notice of you. If you are already an accomplish structural welder, you can shorten that time to 15 days.

More than one welder has recently done this and jumped forward to 3rd year apprentice. If you can get to the point of getting your best joint certified by a welding inspector before you visit the union (or non union company) it is just about a sure bet they’ll accept you.

Gas-fired power plants are growing in popularity. Canada has already begun to phase out coal-fired power plants in favor of gas-fired power plants. Gas is less expensive and a cleaner form of fuel than coal. However, with a surge in gas-fired power plants being built, a closer look needs to be taken on the fire hazards within these plants.

In 2010, the Kleen Energy Systems Power Station, a combined cycle gas and oil power plant, had an explosion in the turbine building when natural gas was being purged from the gas line. Six people were killed.

In 2014, the Didcot B Power Station, a gas-fired plant, had a major cooling tower fire. The fire spread from one to three cooling towers. Luckily, no one was injured. However, it does serve as an example of what can happen in gas-fired power plants and the need for proper fire protection.

Fire hazards are abundant in gas-fired power plants. With natural gas, lube oil, and combustible materials throughout these plants, a small spark can grow into an inferno.

Gas-fired power is on its way to becoming one of the biggest producers of power in North America. With less than 20% of the global coal-fired capacity residing in North America, gas is bringing up the rear and establishing itself as a contender for king of energy production. But what are the fire hazards in these plants?

Cooling Tower

Cooling towers are deceptive by name. It’s a cooling tower. It has water flowing through it. Despite these facts, they do pose very real fire hazards. Cooling towers contain combustible materials throughout the structure: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), fiberglass reinforced plastic, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polypropylene nozzles, and wood.

While the water flowing through the cooling tower may hinder a fire, the water is not everywhere. There are dry spots and occasionally the water is turned off for maintenance. Hot work accidents, smoking, or electrical arcing can cause fires that can spread quickly with the abundance of fire fuel.

Another way cooling tower fires begin is from outside sources like Didcot B Power Station. NFPA 14 states, “A significant percentage of fires in water cooling towers of combustible construction are caused by ignition from outside sources such as incinerators, smokestacks, or exposure to fire.” It goes on to explain fires that begin in cooling towers, “Ignition within these structures can be caused by welding, or cutting operations, smoking, overheated bearings, electrical failures, and other heat or spark producing sources.”

Cooling towers require very specific fire protection that is designed and installed in accordance with NFPA and FM Global standards. Whether the tower is crossflow or counterflow, a fire protection system can be designed to meet its needs.

Another item of note is the corrosive nature of cooling towers. Because of the wet environment, fire protection can deteriorate faster than in other environments. Contaminated water, lack of pH balance, and the warm environment can lead to the deterioration or corrosion of fire sprinkler piping. It is important to schedule annual inspection, testing, and maintenance to ensure that the fire protection is still up to par.

Steam & Gas Turbines

Lube oil is the most common cause of turbine fires. In a recent study referenced by FM Global, during a 15 year period, 17 large turbine building fires resulted in $400 million in gross loss. Lost generating capacity was at 20 million MWh. The average loss per fire was $24 million US dollars with an average of a 24 week outage.

In the FM Global report referenced above, FM Global sites fire events in which fire protection was present. In example one, a hot surface ignited leaking lube oil on a steam turbine; employees activated a water spray system. The fire was extinguished without property damage, and the generator was only down for six hours. In example two, an oil leak in a gas turbine started a fire. The fire was suppressed with gas suppression. It limited the damage to $20,000. That is a 199.66% reduced damage cost from the average.

For steam turbines, the best automatic fire protection system is a water-based system, which can act quickly and tap down the fire. For gas turbines, it is recommended to use inert gas fire suppression. Inert gas is a good alternative to Co2 suppression because it is non-lethal and safe with humans present.

Generator

Much like turbines, a generator’s main fire hazard is lube oil. Lube oil may be released during any number of maintenance errors or due to deterioration. Lube oil is often released in a spray formulation, due to the high pressure. Spray lube fires become large fast, and it is very necessary to have fire protection present. The best fire protection for a generator fire is inert gas. It will not hurt the equipment or affect the health of nearby plant personnel.

Compressor

Compressors have natural gas that can leak and cause explosions and subsequent fires. Natural gas is dangerous in quantity of over 5%. When natural gas reaches 5-15%, it can explode when temperatures reach 1,165 degrees. Considering an undeveloped, post-flashover fire is about 1,000 degrees and a fully developed gas fire reaches about 1,500 degrees, it won’t take long once a fire spark ignites for the natural gas to reach an explosive level.

Natural gas also has the added danger of being colorless and odorless. A scent is added to natural gas, but if it is going through soil, the scent could be scrubbed. Another issue is natural gas’ tendency to reignite once extinguished.

The best fire protection for compressors is gas detection and fire sprinklers. Gas detection can alert plant personnel of a gas leak before it grows out of control. An automatic fire sprinkler system will keep the fire under control before it can spread and possibly extinguish it.

Transformers

If you follow power industry news, you will see transformer fires peppered throughout. Transformer fires are dangerous and hard to control. They usually start with a short-circuit. A small short-circuit creates an electrical arc that vaporizes the oil within the transformer. In less than a second, an explosion can happen.

Deluge fire sprinkler systems are recommended for transformers. Transformer fires are fierce and need immediate, thorough action. Deluge fire sprinklers drench the immediate area, pouring water on the transformer. This helps control the fire until it can be extinguished.

Protecting people, property, and production is a top priority for all businesses. Power plants can reduce damages, their staff’s safety risk, and lost production time by installing and maintaining proper fire protection for each area of the gas-fired power plant.

With a surge of gas-fired power plants joining the power market, now is the time to take action, and ensure that your plant’s fire protection is up to code and ready for when a fire ignites.

The Beginning of Electricity in America

Benjamin Franklin began experimenting with electricity in America and documented the experiments.  He was able to finance his extensive work by selling off his belongings.  He is known for flying a kite in a storm that had a wet string and a key tied to the end of it.  When he observed sparks leaping from the key to his hand he understood that lightning was a natural form of electricity.

Alessandro Volta of Italy invented the electric cell in 1800, making it easier for scientists to study electricity and its various applications.  When the electric cells are connected together a battery is created.

Alexander Graham Bell is known to have invented the telephone.  Bell’s worked as a teacher for deaf students professionally which explains his fascination with different ways to transmit sounds.  During his experiments with sound transmission he began to use electricity, which eventually led to his success with the telephone.

Thomas Doolittle, a mill worker from Connecticut created the method that was used to create the first hand drawn copper wire that strong enough to use as a telegraph wire.  A man by the name of Michael Faraday discovered that electricity was created when a magnet was passed through ordinary copper wire.  This is the application that is used in America’s power plant to generate electricity that is delivered to customers across the country.  Both the electricity generator and are built on this principle.  A generator takes mechanical energy and converts it to electricity.  On the other hand, motors convert electricity energy to mechanical energy.

While Thomas Edison experimented with electricity he was able to invent the electricity light bulb in addition to many other gadgets.  His biggest challenge when creating the light bulb was to find the right material to use for the filament.  He settled on carbon soaked cotton thread.  The carbon was used to prevent the cotton thread from burning.  The thread glowed as the electricity traveled through it.  As soon as the popularity of the light bulb caught on he turned his attention to the development of power plants that would be run the light bulbs.  The first power plant that he built began operating in 1882 and served 85 New York city customers.

A major turning point occurred in 1895.  The power plant that was built by Edison was only capable of transporting power a short distance since it used direct current of DC.  The power was transmitted approximately just one square mile surrounding the power plant.  With the development of alternating current or AC in 1895 the plant was able to transport power over 200 miles from the newly built power plant in Niagara Falls.

Electricity was rather slow to catch on in America.  Many people were excited by the new inventions, but some were afraid of the electrical current and hesitated to have it installed in their houses.  Some people were unable to afford the price of the service.  Electricity was blamed for causing the end of simple living.  Many people felt that electric lights were less romantic than the gas light they were used to.

Many expos and fairs often featured exhibits that displayed the recent inventions that used electricity as their power source.  The 1893 Columbian Exposition that was held in Chicago displayed 5,000 arc lights and 90,000 incandescent lamps.  People that visited the expo had the opportunity to view or ride the different electricity exhibits which included three cranes, several water fountains, a moving sidewalk, elevators and a street car system that was created by General Electricity.

The Pan-American Exposition that was held in Buffalo, NY in 1901 used electricity as the theme.  An electric tower that was 400 feet in height, displaying 40,000 lights was featured in addition to the Electricity Building which was home to a huge exhibit of electricity appliances.

Power became accessible by more people as small electricity companies started to spring up around the country.  A number of the smaller companies started to merge together and form large conglomerates, the largest ones being General Electric and Westinghouse.  These two companies started building power plants that were equipped with generators that used fossil fuel combustion and steam to produce electricity.  Other plants were being built that used kinetic power to generate power like water or wind.  Once nuclear power was developed, the power that was released as nuclear reactions occurred was used to create electricity.

The demand for electricity grew by 12% each year for the first thirty years of the twentieth century.  In order to keep up with today’s demand for electricity, renewable resources are being implemented to supply the much needed power.  Many people are using solar power, hydropower and wind power are being put to use in order to meet the demands of consumers and to protect the environment.

Paying for your electricity every month can be a painful process, especially if you feel like you are not in control. You can make the payment of your electricity bill a far simpler process when you choose to switch to prepaid electricity. You can take the power back into your own hands with this convenient way of paying for electricity.

Before now you had no other choice but to make your electricity bill payment to a service provider. A service provider will send you a bill every month as to how much you owe them, making it difficult for you to control how much you spend on electricity a month. In some cases you will get an electricity bill that does not accurately portray the amount of money you owe your service provider. Reversing the amount is a lengthy process and you have no other choice but to pay it, so that your electricity does not get switched off. In most cases you will eventually get your money back. If you are tired of having to pay for electricity that you cannot account for then you need to switch to prepaid electricity.

Prepaid electricity is a fantastic way for you to take back control. You can pay for your electricity bill payment on your own terms. In order to start this process you will need to first install a prepaid meter at your home. Once you have done this you will be able to monitor exactly how much electricity you are using as the meter will keep track of it. Paying for prepaid electricity is much easier than paying a service provider. There are three different ways in which you can pay for your prepaid electricity:

  • Debit order. Once the prepaid meter is installed you will be able to decide on a monthly debit order. At first your may find that you are paying too much or too little towards your electricity, but you can easily adjust the debit order to reflect the right amount.
  • Purchasing at a store. Many stores sell prepaid electricity. You can simply go to your local store and buy a voucher for the amount of electricity you need. The voucher comes with a code that you will need to put into the prepaid meter in order for the electricity to work.
  • Online payments. An online profile will be set up for you when you purchase the prepaid meter. This will help you to track the progress of your meter if you are not at home and also make payments for your electricity on your profile.

Switching to prepaid electricity it a far more convenient way to pay for your electricity. Your monthly electricity bill payment can now be determined by you helping to make sure that you only use electricity that you need.

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