What is natural gas used for?
Natural gas is produced as a byproduct of many processes, including landfill sites, wastewater treatment and the extraction of oil from the ground. Natural gas can also be found in deposits underground, it is formed from the decaying of organic materials such as fossils. Natural gas is extracted from underground and collected to then be used in a number of different processes.
Natural gas has several different uses both for households and for business processes. In this article we look at the most common uses for natural gas.
Heating and cooking
The most common way that natural gas is used is in homes for heating and cooking purposes. Gas is piped into homes where it feeds into a boiler system. The boiler ignites the gas in a controlled environment. This flame heats up the water which is then pumped round using the central heating system to warm up the radiators which in turn heat up the home. The gas can also be fed to a gas stove where it is once again ignited and used to cook food, the flame heats up the pans to cook the food within. Gas can also be delivered to ovens where it ignites and maintains the heat of the oven through the use of a gas-fueled burner. The oven is able to regulate the temperature to keep the food cooking consistently. Gas can also be used on camping stoves and in BBQs where it is stored in various sized containers which are ignited and used to cook food in different settings.
Natural gas can also be used to generate electricity. There are three different ways that gas power stations work to produce electricity. The first uses open cycle gas turbines, these are typically smaller power plants that are cheap to build. They burnt the gas which creates hot air, this hot air is used to drive a turbine which creates electricity. The second method of using natural gas uses an additional step to improve the efficiency. This step uses the hot air to heat water and the steam created from the water is then used to turn a turbine to generate electricity, this method is called combined cycle gas turbine. The third way is called combined heat and power, this process follows the open cycle gas turbine method but it also utilizes the heat that the turbine produces in other processes.
Natural gas is also used in industrial processes as part of production methods, many products such as chemicals, fertilizers, plastic, food processing, hydrogen and much more need natural gas in order to facilitate production. Natural gas is used to manufacture a number of chemicals such as methanol which has many applications. Methanol is a base material for many everyday products such as paints, construction materials, dyes, resins and much more.
Natural gas is also used for transportation, many vehicles use natural gas as fuel to power their engines. Natural gas isn't as popular as petrol or diesel but there are a significant number of vehicles that operate using natural gas. The fuel tanks typically use compressed natural gas so that they are able to hold more gas and the vehicle doesn’t need to fill up as regularly. Gas is injected into the engine where it is ignited and provides the power needed to propel the vehicle forward.
Natural gas is a valuable resource, leaks in ageing gas collection and distribution systems not only harm the environment but waste the gas. They can also be a huge hazard as natural gas is flammable. A natural gas provider's ability to quickly and efficiently detect natural gas leaks is a crucial part of its management. Portable gas analyzers are able to quickly and efficiently locate natural gas leaks using gas specific tunable laser diode technology which is specifically tuned for natural gas. Natural gas leak detectors are able to prevent financial losses associated with ongoing leaks and prevent health and safety issues. At QED we have several natural gas leak detector products including the Laser One and New Metrex. Take a look at all of our gas detectors for more detailed information on what each product offers.