Just the Fracking Truth: Comparing Alternative Energies to Natural Gas

Reader Contribution by Ruth Domingo
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In all honesty, there probably is not any singular solution to the energy crisis. Wind and solar energy, despite some great leaps and bounds in the technologies, remain not quite ready for prime time. Still, despite that fact, they do remain viable options, especially for those living off the grid or on a small homestead, and for those who may require more in the way of supplemental power resources. Waste To Energy is not a viable option for most, though there do appear to be some very promising advancements in the technology that should be forthcoming within this generation. Waste to Energy generally relies on modern diverter technology that converts the waste, either through incineration or heating, but numerous viable (and marketable) by-products are also made available with some of the helioconverter technologies in use. Perhaps, the biggest complaint about the utilization of natural gas stems from the process of fracking. What is all too often either forgotten or dismissed, are “ancient” technologies that can virtually eliminate any need for fracking.

Oil is so deeply embedded into the world today that it is virtually impossible to realistically hope to avoid its continued use. However, this does not mean that we should not greatly reduce our dependency on this substance, despite some arguments to the contrary. There is an increasing amount of evidence that indicates that oil may in fact be abiotic in nature, a very interesting topic for anyone with an open mind. Still, this says nothing about why the earth would produce such an abiotic substance naturally unless it served some purpose. Is it possible that the oil is formed as some type of natural lubricant to keep the tectonic and teutonic plates from shifting too violently or rapidly? The truth is, it does not matter. A substantial reduction in our dependency on oil would allow us to exist utilizing little more than that which is extricated naturally from the interior of the earth.

Solar and Wind energy production has shown to be largely incapable of keeping up with peak power and often requires backup from those same coal fired plants that so desperately need to go the way of the dodo bird. Still, portable units are now inexpensive and viable enough to allow for these systems to be used to power virtually anything that requires only small levels of amperage. Effectively, anything that does not heat up or cool down can be run on solar and/or wind energy with relatively few difficulties.

Twelve-volt wiring can be done largely with traditional speaker wire, even using standard light switches for lighting. Car stereos are quite capable of producing viable sound systems for single rooms … especially with the addition of an old power booster. The new headlights are great for lighting up entire rooms, especially with the addition of a reflector. 1156 and 1157 brakelight bulbs are great for nightlights and even as outdoor lighting. As this technology improves and is more fully integrated with other alternative energy resources, there is every reason to believe that these resources are dependable and reliable alternatives for much of the current energy consumption and requirements for all of humanity.

Waste to Energy is a personal favorite of the author, but that is due to their work with a group from Germany and Australia who have devised a means to convert waste to energy, biodiesel, biogas, biochar and water which can then be distilled for human consumption … all without any need for incineration. The only real negative seems to be that there is a net loss of the Natural Gas (or methane) that is produced due to the fact that it is used to heat the waste and accelerate the process of decomposition. This remains unfavorable to a great many individuals however, as much of the technology merely focuses on the production of fuel and burning that fuel in more traditional, equally polluting generators. Certainly, such activities are not much (if any) better than the current power plants in regards to the emission of pollutants into our atmosphere.

Natural Gas, Methane and Propane are generally much cleaner burning than more traditional fuels, and exhausts can be further filtered to provide a greater reduction for emissions. Anyone who has ever had a fairly decent camper or even one of the nicer Recreational Vehicles, has probably seen systems largely set up for propane. Propane refrigeration and freezer units are actually based on the ammonia based systems from the early nineteen hundreds but are surprisingly efficient. Granted, there may still be issues with the refrigerants, but getting rid of refrigeration altogether would allow for the spread of disease at levels not seen for centuries. Even in the middle of the Nevada desert with no shade and temperatures routinely peaking at around one hundred and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit (or around forty-six degrees Celsius) a propane refrigerator kept the ice cream frozen, the beer cold and the bacteria at bay.

One of the biggest complaints about the large-scale use of Natural Gas is the process of “fracking” used to extract the natural gas from the ground. What is perhaps more amazing however, is just how much methane is released into the atmosphere wholly unchecked and much of which could be trapped or otherwise collected for commercial use. Gas traps are increasingly common in new landfills, but with a sufficient number of helioconverters in use, landfills could remain virtually empty, save for some of the more toxic waste that may require a little additional consideration when being disposed. Wastewater effluent, solid animal waste from commercial farms, and even organic waste can be easily converted to “natural gas” or methane as it is produced naturally from the decomposition process.

Methane is more than twenty times as potent as Carbon Dioxide when released into the atmosphere, and unlike the carbon dioxide, cannot be absorbed by trees or other plant life. Despite its more prominent status as a greenhouse gas, large volumes of methane are constantly being released, completely unchecked and allowed into the atmosphere. While the ongoing efforts to become better stewards of the environment should no doubt continue, such a focus on more “natural” Natural Gas production (as opposed to the fracking) should receive a good deal more attention as it would generate numerous benefits.

Elevated production of naturally occurring gas would reduce the cost of the end product, allow for the cleaner burning of fuel, allow for more efficient filtering of the emissions and ultimately, should seemingly be a viable and virtually open market. While the helioconverter technologies may not be as advanced as they could be today, many of these more natural sources for natural gas can be generated in large-scale, old school digesters today.

As always, please leave any of your thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions in the comment section below so that they can be addressed individually, and perhaps even used for consideration in future articles. None of this work would be possible without you, the reader, and as such, your thoughts and considerations are the most important aspect of any articles published herein.

Photos by DarkWorkX

Ruth Tandaan Sto Domingo has worked with numerous NGOs, governments and Indigenous communities in Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia, the Philippines and Vanuatu to implement sustainable solutions. She is the co-author of  Whole System Sustainable Development. Ruth enjoys “hyper-realistic” cross stitch and is working with her husband to build a largely off-grid and self-sufficient home where she will raise livestock and garden both flowers and food. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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