Episode 106: Have you ever wondered how natural gas is used to make electricity?

We use natural gas to generate electricity but we could be even more efficient. In this episode of Energy Bite, Granger Morgan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Co-Director of the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making and Co-Director of the Electricity Industry Center, will tell us how.

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For more information

EPA-Electricity from natural gas

U.S. Energy Information Administration: What is U.S. electricity generation by energy source?

New York Power Authority: How does a combined cycle technology works?


Transcript

HOST INTRO: Have you ever wondered how natural gas is used to make electricity? On this week’s Energy Bite, Granger Morgan, a Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

DR. GRANGER MORGAN: We make electricity from gas using something called a gas turbine – basically, just a big modified jet engine. Today, natural gas is our second largest source of electricity. A big advantage is that when gas is burned it produces only about half as much carbon dioxide as coal.

HOST: Is there a way to make these gas turbines more energy efficient?

DR. GRANGER MORGAN:: Yes, the exhaust that comes out of the gas turbine is hot enough to make steam, and you can use that steam to run a second steam turbine. The two together are called a combined cycle turbine.

HOST: Are there any other ways to use natural gas to make electricity?

DR. GRANGER MORGAN: Engines of the kind that usually run on diesel fuel or gasoline can be modified to run on natural gas, and places like hospitals can use them for back-up generators. Regular engines, sterling engines, or small gas turbines can also be used for distributed generation. If the heat from such systems is captured and used, the overall efficiency can be roughly doubled.

HOST: Would you support greater use of distributed generation that uses natural gas? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

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