About Natural Gas
According to the American
Gas Association, more than 60 million customers use
natural gas in homes and businesses in the United
States. In fact, natural gas provides about 24 percent
of all the energy that is used across the nation.
is natural gas?
Natural gas is formed deep underground, usually in
areas around coal and oil. The raw form of natural
gas that we use for energy is called methane. Other
substances found in natural gas, such as butane, propane,
and ethane, are removed before we use the methane
gas that we call natural gas in appliances or equipment.
was natural gas created?
The natural gas we use was formed millions of years
ago when organic matter was buried in the earth and
ocean floor. Over time, thick layers of mud, sand,
silt and rock settled over the matter, pushing it
deeper and deeper into the earth’s crust. As
the layers of matter built up, pressure and heat from
the shifting surface of the earth filled the resulting
cracks and crevices with oil and natural gas.
natural gas safe?
Yes! Natural gas has a very limited range of flammability.
This means that it takes just the right mixture of
air and natural gas before it can burn. Also, natural
gas is lighter than air, so it usually will safely
rise and disperse into the air if it is allowed to
vent freely. Even with this in mind, it is very important
to understand natural gas and to be aware of safety
tips concerning its use. Most accidents occur because
of lack of knowledge that leads to unsafe equipment
or appliances, not because natural gas itself is unsafe.
Your nose knows—the smell of mercaptan is unmistakable.
And that’s exactly why it is added to natural
gas, helping you detect even the smallest amount of
natural gas leaking into the air. In its native state,
natural gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless.
Mercaptan, the harmless chemical that is added to
natural gas, contains sulfur, which makes it smell.
Many people describe the odor of mercaptan as similar
to rotten eggs. When mercaptan is added to natural
gas, it rises and dissipates much like the gas itself,
making the two substances ideal companions.
we running out of natural gas?
The natural gas we are using today took millions of
years to form. That is why scientists and engineers
are doing all they can to help us use this natural
resource efficiently. In addition, we always are searching
for new sources of natural gas deep in the ground,
even under the ocean. What’s more, energy engineers
are busy developing ways we can utilize natural gas
that is being created in landfills across the nation.
This gas, called biogas, is more than half methane,
which is the substance we need most for fuel. There
are more than 300 landfills being tapped for biogas
today and another 500 will probably be in use someday
soon. These are just some of the reasons experts believe
we have plenty of natural gas for today and the future.