What is Natural Gas And Methane?
Over the past 150 years, natural gas has secured its vital role in every aspect of the world development, particularly its role to replace coal and oil. Due to its different characteristics from other types of petroleum, natural gas (mainly methane) has been well accepted as the energy for the world of today and tomorrow.
Nowadays, the public do not only need the energy for their livings but most of all, they also want a better choice for environment.
Natural gas is the fuel giving both heat and light. It can be used as fuel in many sectors as; transportation, industrial, agricultural, and a raw material for petrochemical industry. Furthermore, natural gas can be used in a cooling system.
What makes of Natural Gas? – Methane
Natural gas is a mixture of various hydrocarbon gas known in scientific names i.e. methane, ethane, propane, and butane. Over 70% of natural gas is formed by methane, the major component. To maximize its use, natural gas must be extracted.
In addition to hydrocarbon, other components, for instance, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen and water can also be found. The composites can be separated from the gas through the natural gas processing at the gas separation plants. Each of them has a wide variety of uses.
Properties of Natural Gas
- It is a fossil fuel formed from plant and animal remains millions of years ago.
- It is hydrocarbon component with methane as a major component.
- It is colorless and odorless. For security during transportation or processing, a commercial odorant is added to allow users to detect the gas for safety.
- It is lighter than air with a specific gravity of about 0.6-0.8. If leaks, it disperses upward and dissipates into the air quickly.
- It is inflamed during a range of 5-15% by volume of gas in air. The self-ignition temperature of natural gas is 537-540 celsius degrees.
- As it is a clean fuel with cleaner burning nature, natural gas has lower environmental impact when compared with other types of fuel.
Forms of Natural Gas
Pipe Natural Gas or natural gas that transport via pipeline, it is known in commercial term as Sale Gas. Sale Gas is mainly composed of methane. It is transmitted to customers to be used as fuel at the power generation and industrial plants.
Natural Gas for Vehicles (NGV) is the form of natural gas used as fuel for vehicles. NGV is primarily composed of methane and transported through the pipeline to the gas stations. At the gas stations, low pressure gas will be compressed and stored at high pressures of 3000-3600 pound per square inch (psi) and can be then used to filled up the gas tanks.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) conventionally, the gas is transmitted through the pipeline from production fields to users. If the distance is over 2,000 kilometers, it requires a considerable amount of money to lay a pipeline.
Therefore, LNG solves has limitations. The gas is liquefied by lower temperature to minus 160 degrees Celsius and becomes 600 times smaller in volume, then stored at atmospheric pressure in designed vessels and transport to users. The cost of waterway transport is less than transportation through pipeline.
Uses of Natural Gas
- We can directly use natural gas as fuel for power generation and in factories e.g. ceramic, sanitary ware as well as in the co-generation system.
- Produce various products through gas separation process. As natural gas is made up from many beneficial compositions, at the gas separation plants, those compositions can be extracted for a number of products as follows:
- Methane is used as fuel for power generation known as Sales Gas. If compressed in high-pressure cylinder, the product derived is called compressed natural gas or as known as natural gas for vehicles or NGV used as fuel for cars.
- Ethane is used as feedstock for upstream petrochemical industry which will be used to produce plastic pellets and fibers for other synthetic products.
- Propane and Butane are used as feedstock for upstream petrochemical industry as well. The compressed mixture of propane and butane at different proportions stored in a cylinder is called liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or cooking gas. It is used as fuel for household, vehicles, metal welding, as well as in some industries.