Natural Gas as a Green Fuel

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Natural gas has been used by man for a long time. It was said that the ancient Persians and Greeks use it for religious worship and ceremonies. The Chinese, around 500 BCE, used it to produce salt by evaporating seawater and distill water for drinking. In the later part of the 1700s, UK produced manufactured gas from coal for energy but it has more toxic by-products. The US also used this type of gas until William Hart discovered natural gas during the early part of 1800s. More uses and applications have been found for this gas later.

Natural gas is thought to be abundant in nature. It is postulated that it transformed from the remains of small sea creatures and plants that existed millions and millions of years in the past. These biological forms were buried deep under the seabed. The heat and pressure eventually transformed them into peat and later, into natural gas and other fuel types.

Natural gas is a mixture of several gases when mined, with methane as the main component. The other gases are ethane, propane, butane, pentane, isobutene, heptane, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. It is called a gas since it is one of the three states of matter (e.g. solid, liquid, gas). Natural gas is composed of hydrocarbon compounds. It is highly-combustible, tasteless, non-toxic and produces a blue flame. It is mined from inside porous rocks beneath the surface of the earth, above the layer of oil. Natural gas can be found in the US, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Latin America, Qatar, Africa, Asia, Iran, Persian Gulf and other Middle East countries.

In the gaseous state, natural gas occupies a bigger space. Cooling it to negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit, it turns to liquid and compressed to 600 times lesser. This facilitates transportation in metal containers. Methane is the most abundant (89.5 percent) from the different chemicals extracted, and the most used in commercial and household purposes. Because it is odorless, a chemical is added as an odorant to know if it leaks out of the container.

All fossil fuels emit some type of pollutants into the air. Then why is natural gas considered a green fuel? Of all the fossil fuels, it is the cleanest. It has lesser carbon, nitrogen and sulfur. With the effect of global warming being felt across the globe, the interest in alternative green fuels begins to gain strong advocacy. Natural gas is a viable alternative green fuel since it merely produces water vapor and traces of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide after combustion.

In the US, about 20 percent of its electricity production is powered by natural gas. It is also used in home and commercial heating, cooking, manufacturing (e.g. added in fertilizer, paint, detergent, etc.), and numerous others. Its high-octane level provides efficient power for vehicles. Moreover, it is cheaper and cleaner (lesser toxic by-products) to produce. Increasing natural gas use on a global scale and reduction in use of other fossil fuels would definitely have a huge positive impact upon the environment. Everyone should take a stand and support green fuel use before total environmental and climatic balance collapses.


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