You’ve likely heard about natural gas in the past, but what do you know about it? Perhaps this fuel brings to mind the blue flame of a gas stove. You might even associate it with warm clothes from the gas dryer. However, there’s plenty more about natural gas other than the ways we use it every day. Ideally, natural gas is a hydrocarbon gas mixture useful for cooking, water heating, and powering the appliances in your home. It is a sustainable resource that can aid in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Keep reading this guide for more facts about natural gas. This will also help you to make informed decisions about energy use and conservation.
What is Natural Gas?
The energy source natural gas belongs to the category of fossil fuels. Natural gas is composed of a wide variety of chemical components. Methane, a compound consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms and denoted by the chemical formula CH4, is natural gas’s most abundant component.
Natural gas also contains trace amounts of natural gas liquids, which are also known as hydrocarbon gas liquids, as well as non-hydrocarbon gases like carbon dioxide and water vapor. These trace amounts of natural gas liquids are also present in natural gas. We make use of natural gas not only as a fuel but also in the production of materials and chemicals.
How Was Natural Gas Created?
The fossilized remains of plants and animals began to accumulate in thick layers on the surface of the planet and the bottoms of the oceans millions to hundreds of millions of years ago. These layers were sometimes combined with sand, silt, and calcium carbonate.
These layers were eventually covered by sand, silt, and rock as time progressed. Because of the intense pressure and heat, some of this carbon- and hydrogen-rich material was transformed into coal, while other portions became oil or petroleum, and yet others became natural gas.
1. Cleaner Fossil Fuel
Compared to other fuels, natural gas is the cleanest combustion of fossil fuels. If you compare it to coal, burning natural gas produces over 50 percent less carbon dioxide. Many gas and oil industries have named it a bridge fuel as it is cleaner to use in industries instead of coal. As Adam Ferrari LinkedIN profile puts it; natural gas is better for the environment and the climate. Its use as an energy resource in power generation systems provides a cleaner alternative from other fossil fuels such as coal.
2. Lighter than Air
Natural gas – mainly methane – is less dense than carbon monoxide. Technically, this means it’s lighter than air. In its gaseous state, natural gas takes a considerable chunk of volume. This makes it difficult to transport. However, companies can pressurize it to allow for its transportation across land through pipelines. Additionally, natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless in its natural taste. Its scent is an additive that is added to make it smell and more comfortable to detect.
3. Environment Friendly
The use of natural gas can help lower the carbon footprint if you’re using it in your home. It’s a clean and innovative solution that can provide homes, businesses, and schools with an efficient energy source. You can also upgrade your home with natural gas appliances to help lower emissions and reduce your energy bills. When natural gas is burned on power generation systems, it only produces 15 percent less carbon dioxide than wood. Also, it’s 30 percent less than oil and 50 percent less than coal. Finally, natural gas doesn’t produce airborne elements that are harmful to human and animal health.
4. Better Alternative Fuel for Vehicles
Compressed natural gas can aid in improving air quality by eliminating harmful gas emissions. Experts point out that its engine can function similarly to gasoline engines. Additionally, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is also convenient for vehicles that travel long distances. Another advantage of using natural gas vehicles is the widespread distribution of infrastructure, domestic availability, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re using natural gas as a consumer, this can potentially help you save money on energy bills. It’s a clean fossil fuel that leads to less electricity, propane, and heating oil usage in everyday activities.
Other Facts About Natural Gas That Might Interest You
There Are Two Types of Natural Gas
Dry gas and wet gas are the two different forms that natural gas can come in. Dry natural gas is what is typically referred to by the media. This type of natural gas is utilized in the production of electrical power as well as in the operation of heating and cooling systems. Methane makes up practically the whole composition of dry natural gas; hence, the higher the methane concentration is within the gas, the drier the gas is. Wet natural gas, on the other hand, has a methane content that is lower than 85%, and it also has a higher percentage of liquid natural gasses, such as ethane and butane.
Over 11 Million Road Vehicles Uses Natural Gas
There are around 11 million road vehicles globally that run on natural gas. To power vehicles such as automobiles, buses, taxis, and trucks, the gas is either compressed or liquified before use.
Natural Gas Is Used for More Than Just Cooking and Heating
There are much more other uses for natural gas besides heating and cooking. Without them, a great number of things that are used regularly would not exist. Everything from vinyl flooring, carpeting, and pipes to aspirin, artificial limbs, and heart valves to eyeglasses, deodorant, and smartphones.
The Global Energy Mix Has Seen an Enormous Increase in Natural Gas
Natural gas has had phenomenal expansion as a component of the global energy mix, and it now contributes 21% of the total primary fuel that is consumed around the world. The currently available reserves are sufficient to meet the world’s demand for conventional gas for the next 60 years.
The World’s Largest Estimated Recoverable Shale Gas Reserves Are in China
Shale gas deposits in China are roughly twice as extensive as those in the United States, making China the country with the biggest potential for economic extraction of shale gas. The second place belongs to Argentina.
Where Can One Find Natural Gas?
Geologists, who specialize in studying the structure and operations of the earth, are the first people to be consulted in the search for natural gas. They look for the specific types of geologic formations that have a good chance of harboring natural gas resources. Seismic surveys can be carried out both on land and at sea to assist geologists in locating promising areas for the drilling of oil and natural gas wells.
Seismic surveys involve the generation and measurement of seismic waves within the earth to obtain information regarding the geology of rock formations. While conducting seismic surveys on land, a thumper truck, which is equipped with a vibrating pad that pounds the ground to induce seismic waves in the underlying rock, is sometimes used. Sometimes, small amounts of explosives are used.
Seismic surveys are carried out in the ocean and use sound blasts to create sonic waves to investigate the geology that lies under the ocean floor. An exploratory well will be drilled and tested at a location if the findings of seismic studies suggest that the location may have the capability of producing natural gas. The findings of the test provide information on the quality as well as the quantity of the natural gas that is contained inside the resource.
What Transpires When Natural Gas Is Discovered?
If the findings of a test well indicate that a geologic formation contains sufficient natural gas to generate a profit, then one or more production or development wells will need to be drilled in that area. Both vertical and horizontal holes for natural gas extraction can be drilled into rock formations that contain natural gas. With typical natural gas deposits, the natural gas may be extracted from the ground relatively simply by pumping it to the surface through wells.
Natural gas is extracted from shale and other types of sedimentary rock formations in certain countries, including the United States and a few others, using a process that involves pumping water, chemicals, and sand down a well while applying intense pressure. The process of breaking up the formation, releasing the natural gas that is trapped within the rock, and allowing the natural gas to flow to and up wells to the surface is known as hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.
Unconventional production is another term that is sometimes used to refer to this process. Gathering pipelines are installed at the top of the well to collect the natural gas, which is then transported to natural gas processing plants.
Renewable energy experts point out that natural gas could be the key to bridging a renewable future. Natural gas is a convenient renewable resource that can help revamp and revolutionize your home. Switching to natural gas is also great for reducing carbon footprint and other harmful gas emissions to our environment.