Alec Krosser: Research and Development

Another important economic factor is the research and development (R and D) that natural gas companies are putting their money into. Much of the R and D is related to the industry and making hydraulic fracturing an easier and more efficient technique. Some R and D is useful and can be applied outside of the natural gas industry (7).
One area of research that natural gas companies have devoted a large amount of money to is 3D and 4D seismic imaging. 3D seismic imaging is the process of obtaining a 3D image of the oil or gas reserves under the ground using data obtained from above the ground. 4D seismic imaging takes that process one step further and monitors the oil or gas over time. Both processes have clear industry benefits, but can also be used for research and other science projects outside the industry. (8)
A second area of research where natural gas companies have spent a lot of money is in natural gas powered automobiles. These vehicles have potential to revolutionize the automobile industry because a majority of cars and trucks currently on the road run on gasoline. Natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline, so its use as an alternative fuel source will lead to a reduced impact of driving on the environment (9). Despite natural gas companies’ spending money on this research, because the current infrastructure is so well defined, it will be difficult to accomplish. Because most cars and trucks run on gasoline, fueling stations across the country are made to serve gasoline. Making enough natural gas stations will be difficult, so most likely, this will not occur for a long time (10).
A third area of research that natural gas, and outside companies have spent a lot of money on is in liquefying natural gas. By converting natural gas to liquid rather than its typical gaseous state, its volume is reduced by 260 times. This process makes natural gas significantly easier to handle and transport. Mobile LNG (liquid natural gas) significantly reduces the cost of transporting natural gas, and therefore is a great asset for industries (11). Converting natural gas to a liquid form can also make natural gas an easier fuel source for potential use in automobiles someday as volume is an important factor with cars (12).