It’s widely known that natural gas has its advantages over fuels like diesel and petrol. However, it has its share of disadvantages too.
Did You Know?
Natural gas cannot be easily detected because of its colorless and odorless nature, making it a highly volatile substance to work with.
Like petroleum, natural gas is a fossil fuel, but gaseous in its state and is composed mainly of methane (CH4). It is formed along with oil fields and coal beds. A major plus point of this fuel is that it burns with low emissions and can be safely stored. This property makes it a convenient and expeditious source of heating and generating electricity.
Extraction of Natural Gas
The obvious question that comes to mind is whether it is formed and extracted in the same manner as petroleum. The answer is yes. Natural gas, as said above, is formed alongside coal and oil fields. It’s a fossil fuel and is formed as a result of anaerobic digestion of various kinds of dead matter that include plants and such, under the earth’s surface. It’s found deep inside the earth and is drilled the same way like oil.
It can also be obtained from coal through a process called coal gasification. In this process, coal is exposed to high pressure and temperature so that it breaks down into gaseous components. The process is not used widely because the cost factor is the main deterrent. It is often referred to as the cleanest burning fossil fuel alternative. It can be used in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Advantages of Natural Gas
Natural gas is widely used as a primary source of heating whilst cooking.
Natural gas is more environment friendly than oil or coal. It is largely because of the fact that it has only one carbon and hence, produces less emissions. It is a known fact that for the same amount of heat it emits 30% less carbon dioxide than burning oil, and 45% less carbon dioxide than burning coal, thereby improving the quality of air.
Natural gas is cheap (less expensive than gasoline) and therefore cost-effective. Because it is an economical substance, there are numerous ways on how this can be extracted with formations of the same waiting to be tapped into.
Natural gas can be safely stored and burned.
The process of easily transporting natural gas over land through pipelines or over water bodies in the form of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) is an added pro – it doesn’t require high costs.
Most of natural gas reserves are still underutilized.
Natural gas emits 60-90% less smog-producing pollutants.
Natural gas becomes a primary source of electricity during situations when demand runs high.
Due to the clean burning process, natural gas doesn’t produce ash after energy is released.
Natural gas has a high heating value of 24,000 Btu per pound.
Natural gas can provide as long as 24 hours of electricity throughout the week, where other sources of its kind do not match up to its endurance.
Disadvantages of Natural Gas
Is highly volatile (highly flammable), and can be dangerous if handled carelessly.
Although termed as one of the most cleanest fossil fuels, natural gas is mainly composed of methane ― a greenhouse gas. Methane is known to trap heat inside the Earth’s atmosphere in quantities larger than carbon di oxide, thereby contributing to global warming.
In spite of carrying out thorough studies, the extraction process of natural gas sometimes leads to an unprecedented leak. This leak introduces methane in to the atmosphere with a rate high enough to cause global warming.
Another drawback of the extraction process of the natural gas is that a considerable amount of area has to be cleared in order to begin with drilling of the well, followed by installation of pipelines. Thus, over the years, there has been a sharp increase in deforestation and groundwater pollution for the same purpose.
Because natural gas is a non renewable source of energy, its availability is finite. Critics also point out that its extraction leaves large craters within the earth.
In gas pipelines, a substance (contains carbon monoxide) that has a strong odor is added to help detect a leak. But such substances may be harmful and cause deaths if not carefully handled. In fact, natural gas is the most common cause of carbon monoxide deaths.
Constructing and managing transportation pipelines costs for natural gas is a lot, if not for the transporting of the substance itself.
While natural gas may give off lesser carbon dioxide than other sources of energy, it is nonetheless damaging the ecosystem.
Natural gas isn’t used in vehicles as a primary source of fuel since it is a highly combustible substance.
While natural gas can prove to be not so feasible when it comes to acquiring and maintaining its line of distribution, it does in fact prove to be less damaging than its counterparts when it come to pollution. Its efficiency is highly regarded where it could outlast both oil and coal since it isn’t exactly the most popular energy source yet.