My Two Natural Gas Explosions

When I was a child living in Los Alamos, a house across the canyon exploded. The house was demolished and all of the houses within a quarter mile (including ours) were damaged. The neighboring houses were lifted of their foundations. One of my classmates had her life wrecked.

In 1992, me and my 8-1/2 months pregnant wife were nearly knocked out of bed in Houston by a gas pipeline explosion which occurred 50 miles away.

Now Obama wants to have all American cars run off 3,000 psi natural gas, and all gas stations have a huge 3,000 psi gas tank. A terrorist dream come true.

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28 Responses to My Two Natural Gas Explosions

  1. oeman50 says:

    A friend of mine once had a dual fuel car that ran on gasoline or compressed natural gas. Out of curiosity, I looked under the hood to see the CNG set-up. There was a small pressure gauge that was reading 4,000 psi! I told her to never try to do any maintenance on that engine (not that she would). 4,000 psi will cut you like a knife even with a small leak, not to mention the flammability of the gas.

    • phodges says:

      I like the comments:

      “Corzine got another firm up and running that quickly?”

      It is unfortunately the business model for the entire nation – rampant, corrupt, free-money-for-the-right-people speculation. The rest of us will starve.

  2. Bob Greene says:

    Natural gas is explosive only if the methane concentration in air is between ~5% and ~15%. The pipelines have to burst, vent, mix and then find some source of ignition. This is similar to the way a fuel air explosive works: explosion to disperse and mix with air, then explosion to ignite.
    CNG cylinders in vehicles are pretty sturdy. And, like the pipelines they have rupture, leak, mix and then have a second source of ignition. http://www.oringcngfuelsystems.com/is-cng-safe/
    The potential for mischief is present for any form of natural gas transport. A vehicle is much more mobile.
    Natural gas pipeline leaks have to be at a certain level before they are addressed. I read that Massachusetts has something in the order of 20,000 documented natural gas leaks that they are looking for $38 million for the repairs.

    • Any gas in a 3,000 psi tank is a bomb.

      • Bob Greene says:

        I guess I took a more narrow definition along the lines of a device filled with destructive substances designed to explode on impact or some other means, e.g. a fuze. I wouldn’t consider 3000 psi nitrogen or helium cylinders bombs–torpedoes if you break the valve but it would be awfully hard to get them to explode short of sudden tank failure.

        • Luke of the D says:

          I agree with Mr. Greene here… Mr. Goddard, I’m not sure where you are coming with the whole 3000 psig tank here… are you saying these houses exploded because the gas was at 3000 psig? If so, how did it get to that pressure? Was it compressed within the homes? Remember, the gas coming into homes via the natural gas systems in most towns are no higher than 10 psig in most places. My point is, Mr. Goddard, it wasn’t the pressure that blew up your neighbors homes… it was the concentration of gas as Mr. Greene suggests.

        • Bob Greene says:

          Luke, pipeline gas pressure is reduced when it comes into your house. The pipeline is ~300 psig, IIRC. House fires, explosions from natural gas come from leaks with the gas igniting. If you have a high volume of gas between 5% and 15% you will have an explosive ignition. House explosions and pipeline explosions come from relatively low pressure gas leaking to atmospheric pressure and then igniting.

          Gas put into cylinders is compressed to relatively high pressures. You get more in the cylinder and when it leaks and ignites, the potential is BOOM. I’m quibbling that I think it is a potential fire potential unless you try to get a fuel air explosion.

    • oeman50 says:

      If you put CNG in many vehicles, they will inevitably be subject to fire, get smacked with a semi or train, fall off a cliff, be sandwiched between 2 cars or run into a telephone pole at 100 mph. Something tells me the CNG tank will find a way to go off like a bomb in some percentage of these events. How much collateral damage can you tolerate?

  3. jay352 says:

    When I was 5, a cross threaded furnace fitting in the basement leaked until the thermostat called for the igniter. It blew the entire North wall of the house off, lifted the house off the foundation and turned it about 22 degrees. It was quite a fun experience.

  4. Charles Nelson says:

    Ban all ‘assault barbecues’ immediately.
    …cause you know those cylinders of lpg in your back yard?
    are just like explosives just inches away from your friends and family….duh.
    Yea right.
    You know I really detest Global Warming Alarmists…and I know the tricks they get up to but getting all hysterical about gas powered vehicles is plain silly….the squealing noises coming from here about gas powered cars really reminds me more of the Eeeeekology Party than a bunch of practical minded skeptics.

  5. jerry says:

    I thought we ran out of natural gas when Jimmy ‘the second worst president’ was in office. I know where I live, all new houses in 1976 were built with electric furnaces because like snow, natural gas was a thing of the past. We also banned all gas lamps at that time. and by the way, didn’t natural gas prices just go thru the roof because of the warmcold we have been having

  6. Bob Knows says:

    When I lived in Albuquerque a house about 2 blocks away blew up from underground NG pipes rusting out and leaking 1/2 PSI gas into the ground under the house. The whole neighborhood was about 40 years old. The fools who built all he homes had run NG pipes under the slab on grade foundations. Our house had the underground pipes cut off and abandoned. Unsightly new pipes were run across the roof. After the explosion, many more neighboring homes were retrofitted with new NG piping on their roofs. Even at 1/2 PSI, NG is an explosive gas At 4,000 PSI it is way to dangerous for the average person to handle in a vehicle. The death toll from that proposal would be horrific.

  7. Bob Knows says:

    I lived in Los Alamos for several years. I haddn’t reallized you were from the Los Alamos Goddards. Nice place.

  8. Charles Nelson says:

    Just been out and checked my automobile LPG tank…pressure relief valve setting 2.55 mega pascals…that’s around 360psi. Eeeeek!

  9. I would feel much safer in a hydrogen powered car where the tanks are only 10,000 psi

  10. FundMe says:

    Why do you think that Jihadi’s dont walk around with gas bottles in their knapsacks…he he…Bwana it wont work… it dont work.

  11. Case in point from earlier this week: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/natural-gas-pipeline-explodes-near-otterburne-man-1.2510873

    I just got a letter from my local NG provider advising us that since one of these is less than 200 meters from our house if we smell rotten eggs, don’t light a match, etc. I was actually surprised since I wasn’t aware the pipeline ran near our place. I went looking and couldn’t see any evidence of it. However there is a major trans national pipeline 2 kms away…meters or kilometers “what does it matter?”

  12. Isn’t the issue with CNG that it significantly weakens the pipeline/container over time? The owner is supposed to monitor this and drop the pressure accordingly (go from 3000 to under 1000 psi) and eventually replace the pipe/canister. The pipeline owners are notorious for not doing this and I can’t imagine the average car owner being more responsible.

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