A mixture of hydrocarbon gases that occurs with petroleum deposits, principally methane together with varying quantities of ethane, propane, butane, and other gases, and is used as a fuel and in the manufacture of organic compounds.
Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, it must undergo extensive processing to remove almost all materials other than methane.
How a Natural Gas Based Power Plant Works?
The most basic natural gas fired electric generation consists of a steam generation unit, where natural gas is burned in a boiler to heat water and produce steam, which then turns a turbine to generate electricity.
Gas turbines and combustion engines are also used to generate electricity. Here, the hot gases from burning fossil fuels (particularly natural gas) are used to turn the turbine and generate electricity.
Status and Contribution
According to International Energy Agency, in most parts of the world, natural gas demand has grown significantly over the last 15 years. Since 1990 the world natural gas consumption has increased 50%, from 73,142 billion cubic feet (bcf) to 103,641 bcf in 2006.
Advantages of Natural Gas
- Burns clean compared to coal and oil, and hence is less polluting (70% less carbon dioxide compared to other fossil fuels)
- Does not produce ash after energy release
- Has high heating value - 24,000 Btu per pound
- Non-renewable source
- Inability to recover all in-place gas from a producible deposit because of unfavorable economics and lack of technology
- There is approximately 5,149.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves left in the world. Of all the fossil fuels this works out as more than oil but less than coal.
- The US produced 18.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the year 2005.