The renowned University of Houston engineering professor John Lienhard, who heralds “how inventive minds work” as the creator and voice of the KUHF radio program The Engines of Our Ingenuity, is collaborating with ConocoPhillips to rev up audiences again.
This time it’s not engines revving, but excitement over liquefied natural gas (LNG). The team created a series of captivating videos that bring to life the amazing story of how natural gas becomes a liquid – and why it should. The five-part series is called “LNG: 101.”
Lienhard, a professor emeritus in mechanical engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, is widely recognized for his unique flair in explaining high-level scientific concepts in a down-to-Earth, narrative style.
“Very few storytellers can take technical topics and explain them in a quick, engaging way that appeals to subject matter experts and novices alike,” said Greg Thomas, ConocoPhillips project leader. “Dr. Lienhard has a unique way of storytelling that ties together history and engineering concepts.”
Lienhard was equally enthused with the collaboration. “Getting to interact with ConocoPhillips’ experts was a great treat and a rare learning experience,” he said. “I was especially pleased with the generous way the engineers at ConocoPhillips set out to create a teaching tool not tied to company interests. The process was truly collaborative.”
Ever the teacher, Lienhard was excited about how much everyone learned in making the series and how much there is still to learn by people who watch it. Lienhard begins with a profound quote about human history in the first video of the series, “Right for the Times.”
“We humans are an energy-hungry species,” he says, recalling the words of 16th century writer Miguel de Cervantes who spoke of “the fire that warms cold, the cold that moderates heat, the general coin that purchases all things.”
Lienhard’s narrative spans the human use of power from the time when wood was the essential fuel source to the modern LNG era. It is a series full of history and storytelling that makes complicated subjects understandable and thought provoking.
Lienhard notes the stunning importance of fossil fuel use being transformed by the sudden availability of natural gas. “A huge piece of that use is the liquefaction that makes it available worldwide – across oceans,” he narrates.
Unlike natural gas, which is commonly transported through pipelines that are limited by distance and terrain, LNG can be transported in tankers, allowing producers and users from around the world to connect across thousands of miles of ocean.
Natural gas has become abundant and affordable and causes less harm to the environment, so its demand has risen, but it takes up a lot of space.
“We can put 600 times as much LNG into the same space as gas. That makes it safer and cheaper,” says Lienhard.
In a world that revolves around energy, safety and value, it’s time for LNG to be understood by all.
“It’s really about making this information accessible,” said Thomas. “We wanted to create something that would appeal to anyone who is interested in energy and its impact on society — from decision-makers in the LNG industry to members of the communities impacted by the selling or purchasing of LNG.”
The video series premiered in April at the LNG 18 Conference in Perth, Australia and can be found on the ConocoPhillips website.
Watch the entire “LNG: 101” video series below!