What is Natural Gas?
To define natural gas, we must to understand what it consists of, beyond an understanding that it comes from nature. Natural gas is made up of a mixture of four naturally occurring gases, all of which have different molecular structures. This mixture consists primarily of methane, which makes up 70-90% of natural gas along with ethane, butane and propane. These gases are a result of compacted heat and pressure from deceased animals buried deep under the Earth’s surface for millions of years.
Natural gas is extracted from inside the Earth through natural gas drilling and alongside oil drills. Once extracted, the gas is combined with a liquid called crude oil – this is how we can convert natural gas into everyday energy.
Why Use Natural Gas?
Natural gas is a beneficial source of natural energy, offering advantages over other energy sources such as:
- fewer impurities
- less chemically complex
- combustion results in less pollution
- produces less carbon dioxide (which is the primary greenhouse gas), sulfur dioxide (primary precursor of acid rain), nitrogen oxides (primary precursor of smog) and particulate matter (affects health and visibility), than other energy sources
- reliable, meaning it is available for extraction.
Natural gas is also being as a cleaner energy source in the following ways:
- making fertilizer for ethanol
- generating power for homes and businesses
- transportation on land and sea
- electricity generation
- making methane for hydrogen
- used in most of our manufacturing products.
Where is Natural Gas?
Domestic natural gas production has grown over 20% in the past few years and America is now the world’s leading producer. It is estimated that America has at least a 100-year supply of natural gas. Natural gas is most abundant in states including Texas, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
Fun Facts about Natural Gas
- Natural gas is odorless, colorless, flammable and non-toxic.
- Natural gas was first discovered when lighting strikes ignited gas that was seeping from the ground in the middle east between 6000 and 2000 BC.
- In 1626, natural gas was found in America when French explorers discovered Native Americans igniting gases that were seeping out of Lake Erie.
- A man-made volcano erupts in front of the MGM Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas every hour on the hour in the evenings and it is fueled with pina colada-scented natural gas.