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July 28, 2010 / thegrrlspot

We’re the Government and We’re Here to Help!

So this week  I find myself in the Eastern Shore area of Maryland for some all-important training on ships carrying Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) .  This means science.  More importantly, this means Chemistry, as well as mysterious and “fascinating” topics such as Thermodynamics. For those of you who know me, you can probably guess I feel the same way about these topics that I do about…oh…Lindsey Lohan, one word text messages, and mullets.

All this talk of things like molecules, potential energy & chemical reactions took me back to the days of Catholic high school where I spent the first week of studying electricity trying to figure out why my teacher kept talking about a “bat tree”…until I realized he was saying “battery.”  Oh Mr. Emmanuel…you poor, poor man.  Instead of paying attention to voltage and ampheres, most of us were trying to see how much we could roll our skirts without invoking the wrath of Sister Pat or gossiping about the the latest melodramatic breakup in our group of friends.  I’m sure there’s photographic evidence of me wearing a skirt somewhere…

Ah, here I am

You know, I wonder if there is any correlation between Catholic schooling and lesbians (yes, I know I don’t like that word, but we are not talking about me. I am speaking to the collective YOU.)  I just find that a disproportionate amount of gay women I know were, at some point in their lives, attending a Catholic school.  Maybe it’s the guilt thing…someone should do a study.  But I digress. Back to science.

Before you can be an important government employee like me, you will need to undergo some schooling from a man who starts in the middle of a theory, often forgets what he is talking about, and hasn’t been on a ship in about 10 years, so is severely outdated in his knowledge of shipborne technology. Imperative.  Here’s what I learned my first day:

Lesson #1:  First Law of Thermodynamics

Energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed.  You cannot win. Go cry in your corner.

Lesson #2  Second Law of Thermodynamics

Hot bodies want cold bodies.  Trust me I know – try as I may to stay cool, I always wake up sweating because Girlfriend likes to slow roast me in bed.  Heat will always transfer to what is cooler, never the reverse.

Now let’s talk about units… With the introduction of Fluoride into the water system and toothpaste of the United Kingdom, Brits became increasingly hotter.  I’m pretty sure this is why they decided to name a unit of heat after themselves.  We use the British Thermal Unit to measure the amount of heat needed to raise 1lb of water, one degree of Fahrenheit.

As I mentioned before, heat will always transfer to what is cooler.  The same goes for pressure.  High pressure will always be chasing low pressure’s skirt.  The pressure in outer space is what we call “ABSOLUTE ZERO”…pretty intimidating, right?  However, here on Earth we have atmospheric pressure because there’s all kinds of molecules flying about and smacking into us!  Consider yourself bitch slapped by science.

Then there’s what we like to call “Specific Gravity” – you may think you know, but you don’t know.  Why? Because you need a Standard Temperature and Pressure to know the specific gravity and nobody can freakin’ agree on a standard.  Scientists, Engineers, and even the U.S. Army all think they know best what the standard should be.  So give it up.  I told you earlier that you can’t win.

Let’s end this riveting post with a little discussion about LNG and why it BLOWS MY MIND.  Excuse me while I nerd out just a little here…  LNG is the fuel of the future!  I know what you’re thinking – screw you and your consumerist, fuel gobbling self! You’re probably a BP sympathizer!  BUT WAIT! LNG is way cooler than petroleum fuel because it burns clean! Yes, that’s right. I said clean.  This lovely light liquid cannot result in the travesty we currently have in the Gulf!  But how?? you ask.  Well…

LNG, as it’s name might imply, occurs as a gas in normal temperatures.  To transport it via ship, it must be cooled to roughly -260 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s around -160 Celsius for you metric types).  Cooling and pressurizing will turn the gas into its liquid form.  The VERY warmest this product could be before entering a gas state is -83 degrees Celsius and that’s with a whopping 44.2 bars of pressure (aka hella lot of pressure).  So, using what you just learned, what would happen if you poured this finicky fluid into sea water?  Come on…think… YES, it would immediately turn into a GAS and float off into oblivion because the sea water is NOT COLD ENOUGH to keep it liquid. Hot bodies going after cold bodies. It all comes full circle. Now go buy some stock in an LNG company. Oh, Mr. Emmanuel, you would be so proud.

That concludes today’s lesson.  You are now well on your way to becoming an LNG shipping expert! No need to thank me. After all, we’re the government and we’re here to help. 😉



Leave a Comment
  1. Natalie / Jul 28 2010 3:19 am

    What you said?

    I love your blog.

    • thegrrlspot / Jul 28 2010 3:29 am

      Thanks, Natalie! So random…I know 😉

  2. thegrrlspot / Jul 28 2010 10:58 am

    Dear Reader:

    It has come to my attention that BP does, in fact, have its hands in the LNG business. When buying stock, be sure to do your research thoroughly if you have any moral objections to the rate at which we are using and polluting with petroleum-based products. Maybe stock in a company that makes a specific piece of equipment needed for LNG production/shipping? Good luck!

  3. Amara / Jul 28 2010 3:42 pm

    I now feel smarter. I will never forget the 2nd law to thermodynamics thanks to your wonderful analogy.

  4. David / Jul 29 2010 9:48 pm

    BP does have considerable stock in the LNG business. They are smart business folks and are using their profits to fund research in viable alternative energies to ensure the longevity of their company when we eventually rid ourselves off of petroleum fuel. We may hate the big petroleum companies but they truly should be redefined as energy companies. It will be one of them that delivers on a viable alternative. I am not a supporter of BP in any way, just a realist.

  5. Joy / Jul 30 2010 7:24 pm

    1. Hm, is it just me or when u were younger u looked like Britney?? 😛

    2. For an engish literature person you speak chemistry/physics very well.

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