16 Amazing Facts About Natural Gas
1. Natural gas chiefly consists of methane (CH4), but also contains other hydrocarbons such as ethane, butane, propane and naphtha.
2. Natural gas is odourless, colourless and flammable. It is non-toxic and lighter than air; utility companies add the smell of rotten eggs – a product called mercaptan – to make leaks easier to detect.
3. Natural gas is thought to have been first discovered in the Middle East between 6000 and 2000 BC when lightning strikes ignited natural gas seeping from the ground.
4. The first pipelines were built in China in 500 BC. The lines, made out of bamboo, moved gas which was used to make evaporated salt brine.
Naturally occurring natural gas was found in the USA in 1626, when French explorers discovered Native Americans igniting gases that were seeping into and around Lake Erie.
6. Rembrandt Peale, a famous portrait painter, founded the first natural gas utility in Baltimore, USA, in 1816 after using natural gas as an energy source to light an exhibit at his museum and gallery.
7. The American industry really took off in 1859, when former rail conductor Colonel Edwin dug the first well and found oil and natural gas 69 feet below the earth’s surface.
8. Natural gas comes in two forms – dry or wet. Dry natural gas is what is commonly referred to by the media and is used in heating and cooling systems, and for electrical power generation. Dry natural gas is almost completely methane (the higher the methane concentration within the gas, the drier it is). In comparison wet natural gas contains less than 85% methane and has a higher percentage of liquid natural gasses such as ethane and butane.
9. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is made when natural gas is cooled to temperature of minus 260 Fahrenheit (-162 Celsius). When it becomes liquid its volume is reduced 615 times, which can be done by cooling the gas.
10. There are over 11 million road vehicles worldwide that run on natural gas as a fuel. The gas is used in a compressed or liquefied state to power cars, buses, taxis, and trucks.
11. Natural gas isn’t just used for heating and cooking. Numerous every day products wouldn’t be possible without it! From vinyl flooring, carpeting, and piping to Aspirin, artificial limbs and heart valves to sun glasses, deodorant and cell phones.
12. Natural gas produces less than half the CO2 emissions of coal when burned and far fewer other particulates and emissions. When burned to heat homes or for industrial uses, it releases 25-30% less CO2 than oil and 40-50% less than coal per unit of energy produced.
13. Natural gas has had a tremendous growth as part of the global energy mix, and today accounts for 21% of global primary fuel consumed. Current reserves are enough to support global conventional gas consumption for the next 60 years.
14. The International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that unconventional oil and gas could account for as much as 50% of undiscovered global reserves.
15. China has the largest expected recoverable shale gas resources in the world, with almost double the resources of the United States. Argentina has the second.
16. And finally… every hour on the hour in the evenings, a volcano erupts in front of the MGM Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. It’s fuelled by pina colada-scented natural gas.