What is natural gas?
Natural gas is an abundant, naturally occurring gas, which is found deep beneath the earth’s surface, in large pockets that are located inside porous rock. It is called a fossil fuel because scientists believe it to have been created by the gradual decomposition of ancient organic fossil matter, such as plants and tiny sea animals. Layers of this organic matter built up over time until the pressure and heat from the earth “cooked” this mixture into natural gas.
The principal chemical ingredient of natural gas is methane. Very small amounts of other gases also are contained in natural gas, including ethane, propane, butane and pentane.
What are the properties of natural gas?
Natural gas is odorless and colorless and produces very few emissions. It is considered the cleanest fossil fuel because of its clean-burning qualities.
What are the uses of natural gas?
The natural gas delivery system brings natural gas to about 70 million homes and businesses in all 50 states. Natural gas has become the most popular energy used for home heating: about 64 million American homes use natural gas because of its comfort, ease of use and efficiency. Because of its environmental advantages due to low emissions, the use of natural gas is also rapidly increasing in electric power generation and cooling and as a transportation fuel.
How safe is natural gas?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the natural gas delivery system has the best safety record of any energy delivery system.
Improvements in technology and materials have contributed to a steady decline in natural gas pipeline-related incidents. In fact, from 1991 to 2004, the number of incidents on natural gas distribution pipelines decreased by more than 25 percent–yet the amount of natural gas traveling through the delivery system increased by 30 percent, and an additional 650,000 miles of pipeline were added to the system.