Natural gas is a mixture of hydrogen gas, methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulfide. At different locations, this gas is found with mix of different gases, and is used to get energy either in form of heat or electricity. Natural gas is need of every human to carry out different tasks ranging from cooking food at homes to run heavy machinery in industries. Natural gas is found in deep rocks or hydrocarbon reservoirs that come into existence after natural processes of many centuries. Different factors including temperature, pressure, depth, and buried organic materials are reason that create this gas. Natural gas cannot be used directly to produce energy as many impurities are found in it. Therefore before using it as source of energy it undergoes through different processes in which ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes, and higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and sometimes helium and nitrogen are removed from it.
Electricity from natural gas energy:
Natural gas which is a fossil fuel and form from buried plants and animals over the period of thousand years, is a great source of generating electricity. When plants and animals get exposed to sun they store its energy in form of carbon which turns into natural gas after many centuries. This non-renewable source of energy cannot be formed artificially and its abundant use is making it rare day by day. To convert natural gas into electricity gas power plants start process with extraction of gas from earth and transport it to plants where conversion process takes place. After reaching at gas plant, this natural source of energy undergoes through different processes to remove impurities, after which gas moves to power plant through pipelines. Different power plants use different technologies for converting gas into electricity. Two most commonly used methods are, either to burn the gas in a boiler to produce steam or to burn the gas in a combustion turbine to rotate its blades. Technology which uses steam turbine gives efficient results as compared to other methods. This technology is called “combined cycle” and achieves a higher efficiency by using the same fuel source twice.
Environmental Effects of natural gas energy:
Natural gas is composed of hydrogen and methane but when this gas burns it emits huge quantity of carbon dioxide gas that is adding to global warming. Direct emissions of methane represented 14.3 per cent of all global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Besides this extraction, storage, transportation and distribution of natural gas also leaks gas into atmosphere which is adding more pollution than coal over the years. According to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, in 2004, natural gas produced about 5.3 billion tons a year of CO2 emissions, while coal and oil produced 10.6 and 10.2 billion tons respectively.
Pros and Cons:
- Today this is widely used source of energy and fulfills 21% energy requirements on the world.
- Its delivery infrastructure exists from many centuries and end user appliances are also common.
- This source of energy is cleaner than fossil fuels and gives efficient results.
- Natural gas can be transported easily from one place to another through pipelines or in a tank.
- It is far better for cooking than electricity.
- This is a non-renewable source and non-sustainable in long run.
- It emits carbon in environment and adding to global warming
- Extraction process is very dangerous
- There is high risk that it is going to end over a millennium
- Leaked natural gas puts negative effect on our health
- This gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so it is difficult to detect leakages