Where Does Natural Gas Come From?

natural gas pipesNatural gas is something that has been around for millions of years. It is underneath the core of the earth and before it was understood, it created a intense mystery in civilisation.

How Does it Work

Natural gas is hydrocarbon gas mixture. It consists of methane but also has some amounts of higher alkanes and a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium can also be found.

Decomposing plant and animal matter gets exposed to intense heat and pressure from rocks under the surface of the earth. It is a procedure that takes over millions of years. The energy that the plants stored originally, which it obtained from the sun, is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas. All this pressure, heat and millions of years turned the natural material into coal, petroleum and natural gas.

The non renewable resource (fossil fuel) is used as a energy source. Mainly for heating, cooking and the generation of electricity. It is also used in the manufacturing for plastics and is used in other important products such as paints, fertilisers, medicines, and antifreeze. Natural gas is also used for fuel for vehicles.

Because it produces fewer undesirable bi-products per unit than coal or petroleum, it is described as ‘clean burning’. All fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, but natural gas emits about half the rate of coal per kilowatt hour of electricity generated which makes it more energy efficient.

The stats show that in 2013, a coal burning power plant was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electricity whilst a gas-fired plant was 42% efficient. In natural gas combined-cycle power plants, generation may be at 60% efficient.

History

It has been around for millions of years and before it was understood, it had a mysterious element to it. When lighting struck, it would clash with the gas that seeped from below the earth’s surface which resulted in fires and great mystery.

The Chinese civilisation was the first to create a system to transport the gas in 500BC. They created crude pipelines made from bamboo shoots. The natural gas was used to boil sea water to separate the salt so that it was possible to consume as drinking water.

In 1626 French explorers found natural gas in America after they noticed that the Native Americans ignited gases that seeped from Lake Erie. In 1785, more than 100 years later, it was commercialised in Britain, using it to fuel streetlights and lighthouses.

In 1821, William Hart lead a mission to obtain natural gas in New York. He started the first American natural gas company (Fredonia Gas Light Company) and is hailed a pioneer and referred to as ‘The Father of Natural Gas’.

After World War ll the industry boomed. Thousands of miles of natural gas pipelines were constructed in the 1960’s in America. From there the industry grew tremendously.

Natural Gas Sources

In the US, most natural gas is retrieved through a ‘horse head’ pump. It moves up and down and lifts a rod in and out of a well bore. This brings the gas to the surface.

Fracking is a other technique where tiny cracks are created in the rocks. It opens a path for the gas to come to the surface.

The other method is the least common of them all. It uses natural pressure of the underground reservoir and forces the gas through the rocks. A series of pipes and valves on the surface then control the flow of the gas.

Countries where you will find the most natural gas are:

Russia

Iran

Qatar

Turkmenistan

United States of America

Saudi Arabia

Iraq

Storage and Transportation

Natural gas has a very low density which makes it difficult to store and transport. Natural gas pipelines are impractical across oceans because the fraction in the pipelines generate heat and natural gas need to stay cooled. Because of the trade costs, natural gas markets are much less integrated globally which causes massive price differences across different countries. The gas pipeline network is already very dense in Western Europe and new networks are in planning or already underway in Eastern Europe and also between Russia, Northern Africa and Near East.

Safety Concerns

Like in any industry there are safety risks that include the production procedure, fracking, difficulties with odour detection, risks of explosion and risk of carbon monoxide inhalation. But there are incredibly strict laws to protect the wellbeing and safety of people as well as the planet. Every year governments and environmentalist work on better ideas to enhance the procedures and safety of this ‘clean burning’ energy source.

Ways to Warm Up for the Winter

NaturalGasAtHomeAs we approach the end of summer, it may be time to consider staying in at home, keeping yourself warm and dining in more. As such, perhaps it is time to consider what gases you may be using in your day to day home life.

Here are some of the most beneficial energy sources we can choose to use this wintertime.

Methane

Methane is a fuel that naturally occurs in the environment. As it is a natural gas it is extracted from rocks and the Earth’s surface. When natural gas is first extracted they contain a variety of different elements, but they are filtered until we have just Methane. This is what is most commonly used to heat people’s homes. Methane is found in most cities and town, which makes it such a great home fuel as it is so readily available for the most part. It is also very cheap and releases 50-60% less Carbon Dioxide compared to other fuel resources, so it is better for both your wallet and the environment. It also is much easier to detect a leak compared to other fuels thanks to its distinctive scent. Hence why it has become one of the more popular fuels used in home in recent years.

Propane

Despite being slightly more expensive than Methane, when it comes to cooking you can’t go wrong with Propane. Thanks to its ability to reach higher heats faster, it is a friend to all the BBQ enthusiasts out there. However, as BBQ becomes less popular in the colder months, you may also consider it for its other good qualities. It is also very effective at refrigeration, more efficient in heating than Methane and more cost efficient than electricity. It would also be preferred choice for those in rural areas who have with limited access to a gas pipeline as it is liquid. You can rest easy on your morals, as  it has also been registered by  1990 Clean Air Act listed propane as an approved clean fuel.

Ethane

Although it not typically a household gas as it has other qualities useful in other aspects of society, Ethane does burn as well and can be used for cooking and heating your home in the same way as Methane. The reason it is not is due to the fact that there is not as much of it present in as methane in natural gas. However, you still may be using it already be using it without knowing it, for example, if you light your hob with a lighter the gas the lighter contains is Ethane.

Coal

Flashback as little as 40 years and coal would have been as present in a household as a TV set is now. However, due to the more efficient alternatives explored above it has been largely replaced. This being said, it is still possible to use coal to fuel your home so as gas and fuel prices increase it may be considered for those of you who are looking to heat smaller areas. Of course, the days of housing with a fireplace in every room are long gone, but if you still have one in a communal area, it may be both aesthetically pleasing as well as worth it to save yourself a little bit of money, simply by striking a match and warming yourself up by the fire. In these days of smartphones and computers,  embrace that nostalgic feeling and get everyone around the fire, just remember to make sure it is out afterwards!

Solar Panels

From the old to the new, Solar Panels have become increasingly popular as the world collectively begins striding away from fossil fuels and the impact they have on Global Warming. Although this is an expensive alternative at the outset, Solar Panels have been proven to pay for themselves in savings after 10-15 years. Therefore, think of them as an investment. They are able to power all your home appliances needed for cooking and keeping yourself warm, so after the installation you pay practically nothing on your bills!  Due to it being powered by one of the most dependable resources around, Sun-rays,  it is of course readily available everyday (although it may not feel like it in England). Not only a money spinner, it is also great for the environment with no pollution emulated from it meaning you also think of it as investing in the future of your children too! The world is already heading towards a solar future, so stay ahead of the curve and consider this alternative today.

As you can see there is various way to keep your house toasty, so consider all your options and make sure you are choosing the right one for your family, your home, your wallet and the environment as well!

Whatever you choose to keep your house warm, make sure you keep yourself occupied and avoid boredom by logging on to The Casino Wire for all the hottest deals that are sure to keep the cold out this winter!