What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas is a combustible, gaseous mixture of simple hydrocarbon compounds, usually found in deep underground reservoirs formed by porous rock. Natural gas is a fossil fuel composed almost entirely of methane, but does contain minute amounts of other gases.
Where Does Natural Gas Come From?
Scientists believe that natural gas was formed millions of years ago when plants and tiny sea animals were buried by sand and rock. Layers of mud, sand, rock and other matter continued to build up until the pressure and heat from the earth turned them into petroleum and natural gas. Today over 97% of the natural gas used in the United States is from North America. (84% is produced domestically and the remaining 13% comes from Canada.)
Is Natural Gas A Clean Fuel?
Natural gas is cleaner and more efficient than non-gas energy sources, resulting in smaller carbon footprints, reduced energy waste and the conservation of valuable energy resources. In fact, replacing an electric water heater with a Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater prevents approximately 3,000 pounds (source) of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year.
Where Is Natural Gas Used?
Natural gas is used extensively in residential, commercial and industrial applications. Of the natural gas delivered to American consumers, about 33% is used in the industrial sector (for everything from mining minerals to processing food); 12% is used in the commercial market (by businesses ranging from hotels and restaurants, to schools and office buildings); 17% is used in the residential market and the other 38% is used for transportation and electricity production (source). Natural gas is the dominant energy used for home heating with about 56% of American homes (source) using gas. The use of natural gas is also rapidly increasing in electric power generation and cooling, and as a transportation fuel.
How Does Natural Gas Reach Customers?
Natural gas is distributed via underground pipeline, providing nearly 100% reliable service. Three segments of the natural gas industry are involved in delivering natural gas from the wellhead to the consumer. Production companies explore, drill and extract natural gas from the ground. Transmission companies operate the pipelines that link the gas fields to major consuming areas. Distribution companies are the local utilities that deliver natural gas to the end user.
How is Natural Gas Measured?
Natural gas is measured by volume, but sold by heating value or heat content. Volume is measured in cubic feet, and heat value is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
A customer’s bill typically reflects their usage in CCF’s or 100 Cubic Feet. A CCF is equivalent to 100,000 Btu’s.
What are the Main Uses of Natural Gas?
Natural gas has a wide range of applications. Homes and businesses use natural gas for heat-intensive applications, such as water heating, cooking, clothes drying, grilling, pool/spa heating, and so on. Common industrial uses for natural gas include manufacturing, agriculture and standby generation. Also, a large and growing percentage of natural gas consumption is used for electric power generation, and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is rapidly gaining momentum as an alternative transportation fuel.