Tag Archives: Natural Gas

ABC Wednesday – “N” is for …


First up “N” is for Natural Gas!! That is what I do for a living. It’s kind of hard to take a picture of though because it is odorless and colorless. (The odor you associate with it is added before it gets to your house.) Above are pictured natural gas compressors in the Woodford Shale Field east of Oklahoma City. My job involves optimizing the use of these machines to maximize the production of natural gas while minimizing costs (consistent with safe operation).

Believe it or not, I am on the sustainability team at work as optimization is all about sustainability. Do I believe in man-made global warming? Yep, I do. I also believe in hot showers! I am an “all the above” on energy and I think we are headed toward green energy faster than what most people think. I follow the trends and stats. Wind and Solar is taking market share away from natural gas (for electric power generation) and gas is taking away market share from coal and nuclear, and is barely holding its own. The growth in natural gas production is export. Energy for transportation (gasoline for our cars) will be the hard part.

I love the idea of nuclear power but I am not sure we are going to restart that. I am reading “Midnight in Chernobyl” by Adam Higginbotham and there are some chilling passages, especially about the plant management who refused to believe that a reactor core had literally exploded and insisted that they had it under control, when actually their reactor core graphite was all over the countryside and there was literally no reactor left to cool. I can tell you from first hand experience that the human capacity for denial is infinite. (Oops I digress, I am bad about that!)


N is also for Neon. This is Orphas’s Lounge in downtown Tulsa. I have been stepping over the drunks passed out at its front door since I’ve been working in Tulsa since 1992 (admittedly a rare occurrence.) My goal is to go inside and have a beer one of these days before I retire. As old as I am though, I am too young to die!!


N is for National Guard Armory. This one is a now privately owned one in Haskell, Oklahoma about an hour or so from Tulsa. Remember when all the towns had one it seemed. They used to be almost community centers. Not any longer for some reason.

So that’s about it!! I am linking with ABC Wednesday

Getting Educated


A couple years ago I got moved from a commercial position at work to an engineering type job and it has been a transition. I went from having almost constant interaction with my fellow commercial people to hardly any interaction on a daily basis in engineering. Literally there are some days where I don’t talk to anybody else at work. So that has been a struggle but I got a little break earlier this week.
An engineering company in town hosted a natural gas engineering symposium and invited a bunch of people to come in and learn a few things free, gratis, breakfast and lunch included. Sign me up is what I say.


Plus there were continuing education hours involved. Those of us who are Licensed Professional Engineers need to have 15 hours of continuing education every year. So free hours were a bonus. 

So I am not really an engineer’s engineer, or anybody’s engineer for that matter but I love learning about the new technology and in the natural gas world there is lots of new technology. The machine above is an Expander Recompressor. It takes natural gas and cools it to about minus 130 degrees F to partially liquify it in order to remove the ethane, propane, butane, and natural gasoline out of the gas. This machine is cool. It does that without oil. It uses magnetic bearings! Dealing with oil at minus 130 is the pain in the butt. It can be done but using magnetic bearings is a lot better. 

They talked about levitation. You turn a switch and you levitate the shaft. on its bearings. It can stay levitated for years. Who says there is no magic in the world. 


And we got a shop tour. They said to ask before I took photographs. This is about the only one they let me take. I literally asked them if I could pictures of the windows and they said yes. What I really wanted to take a picture of was this gigantic stainless steel apparatus that was headed to one of our national laboratories to use liquid helium to cool a particle accelerator. That would have been a cool pic, but no can do, oh no!! So you get these windows instead. Just imagine something ginormous, very cool, and made of shiny stainless steel. 

But that is just a quibble. Getting a shop tour is a rare privilege these days because of safety concerns. Believe it or not but that is a huge thing these days and I fully support it. And part of safety is avoidance of risk and it is just a lot easier to just say no, but this company said okay. Of course we got a safety briefing from their safety guys and we had safety guys bird dogging us through the whole tour and we wearing our PPE (“Personal Protective Equipment”) hardhat, safety glasses, and ear protection. 


But hey, I got over it when we went to Tulsa’s Oktoberfest later. I soothed my feelings with an imported malted adult beverage. 

I have seen some other cool stuff lately that I can post pics about, but that is for another day.

Have you seen anything cool lately?