Natural gas is one of the cleanest fuels that we have on our planet. Natural gas is found in little pockets throughout the layers of earth and rock and under the sea. It began its journey millions of years ago as tiny plants and animals stored energy from the sun. Taking the form of carbon molecules in their bodies, they took it with them to their watery graves at the bottom of the sea. Layers of sediment covered the bottom of the ocean and, as the carbon molecules sink closer to the centre of the earth, heat and pressure have a tremendously transformative effect. The result is natural gas.
As the natural gas was produced, some forced its way upwards through cracks and tiny holes before escaping into the earth’s air supply. Other supplies were trapped by impermeable rock and are still being discovered to this day.
What makes natural gas so special is that it is mostly made up of methane. This means that emissions won’t react with sunlight to create the smog which grips so many of our cities. We can compress natural gas to make it easy to handle – the great news is that this is nontoxic, noncarcinogenic and noncorrosive.
It doesn’t stop there. Natural gas is lighter than air, so leakages just disappear into the air around us. This means that there is less potential for the explosive results we can see from liquid fuels. This also means that we won’t have to endure toxic spillages which can irreparably damage our delicate and precious ecosystems. Once it comes out of the ground, it stays out.
Natural gas can be used to heat our homes. We can cook with natural gas and even bathe in the waters warmed by natural gas, when knowing that we are creating fewer emissions that the traditional fossil fuels, like oil. It is piped into our homes and will keep going, even when electricity lets us down during a power cut.
Natural gas exists in pockets all over the globe, just waiting to be discovered. With lower emissions of harmful and toxic chemicals, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides, natural gas doesn’t produce any ash which can often lead to breathing problems.
What many people don’t know is that natural gas in its pure state is actually is odourless. Without being able to see or hear gas, natural gas suppliers add an artificial smell to it to help people identify it in the air. The scent is a sulphur-like smell, which you may recognise from a gas cooker or oven.
So, natural gas is all around us. It’s in the earth beneath our feet and tucked away in pipes, ferrying supplies directly to our appliances. It’s even in our public transport. Many forward thinking city councils have made a commitment to cleaner, clearer air in their cities. Next time that you see a bus go past, have a look and see if it’s running on natural gas. You might just be surprised!