Natural gas is an extremely familiar gas that you can hear a lot in life. There are many applications of natural gas from home appliances, production, transportation, and so on. So what do you actually understand this gas is? What are their components and what are the specific applications? Furthermore, do you know what are the pros and cons of natural gas? Let’s read this article to understand more!
What is natural gas?
Natural gas is gas extracted from gas fields available in nature. The composition of natural gas is mainly methane, (CH4), which is about 80-90% depending on the source of extraction.
Natural gas is an indispensable energy supply component of the world. It is one of the cleanest, most flexible, and most useful sources of energy.
Natural gas can be found by itself or in combination with oil. It is colorless and odorless and is actually a mixture of hydrocarbons, while mostly methane. Other hydrocarbons include ethane, propane and butane. Substances such as water, oil, sulfur, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other impurities can be mixed with gases when passing out of the ground. These impurities are removed before natural gas is delivered to customers and commercial enterprises.
There are many pros and cons of natural gas generators debated. This article will cover in more detail the two advantages and disadvantages of this type of energy.
Pros of using natural gas
Pros and cons of using natural gas are still being debated. And let’s find out about the advantages first.
Has many uses
Natural gas is one of the energy sources with many applications that bring benefits to life. Natural gas, after being mined and refined into other gases, will be used as fuel and input materials for the chemical and combustion fuel manufacturing industry:
- Used as fuel for burning of gas stoves, gas ovens in food processing and drying.
- As fuel for combustion in brick kilns, ceramic furnaces, cement production furnaces, smelters, glass smelters, incinerators of thermal power turbines for power generation.
- Used as input materials for the petrochemical industry to create petrochemicals, used in the production of nitrogen fertilizers, washing powders, pharmaceuticals, plastics,…
- Used to produce H2 gas by hydrogen reformer method. Hydrogen gas was then applied to many other fields such as being the main raw material for the chemical industry, being a hydrogenation agent, an important commodity in oil refineries and a fuel source needed to operate hydrogen vehicles.
- Add natural gas to the bacterium Methylococcus capsulatus to produce protein-rich feed and fish food.
An inexpensive source of energy
The use of natural gas saves costs for manufacturing industries due to an inexpensive source of energy.
Specifically, using natural gas as raw materials for food processing industries, glass production, building materials, ceramics and iron and steel … In particular, for the oil and gas industry, natural gas is playing a key role, because this fuel saves 40% of costs compared to other fuel sources.
According to the calculations of some scientists, the price of 1 ton of natural gas is about 318 USD, only 53.5% of the price of gasoline, 42% of the price of oil.
What are other pros and cons of using natural gas? Natural gas is a mixture of combustible gases, consisting of natural hydrocarbon gases that are mainly methane. Like other fossil fuels, natural gas is formed when organic matter decomposes under high temperatures and pressures within the Earth over millions of years. And this is considered one of the most abundant sources of energy on Earth, accounting for 24.2% of the total energy.
If consumption levels remained the same as they are today, we would have enough natural gas resources to use in about 230 years.
Easy to store and transport
Natural gas is usually transported through pipelines easily. This is mainly because natural gas has a relatively low amount of energy per unit volume and increases the cost if containers have to be used. By comparison, a barrel of oil with the same energy content would equate to about 6,000 cubic feet of natural gas or a 6:1 ratio.
An alternative is to liquefy natural gas to get more energy content per unit volume. However, this is not cost-effective. Just keep it at the right temperature to be able to easily store and transport natural gas.As a result, natural gas has always been considered one of the easiest fuels to store and transport in very large quantities.
How to store natural gas is also easy in 3 ways as follows:
- Storage in gas fields
- Storage through aquifers
- Storage in salt caves
The above storage methods are all easy and simple.
Generate less waste
Indeed, natural gas and LNG are currently seen as bridges in the transition to renewable energy thanks to their more favorable emissions characteristics, as they produce 30% less carbon dioxide than fuel oil and 45% less than coal. And, this could very well become a long-term trend.
According to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, in 2004, natural gas generated about 5.3 billion tons of CO2 emitted within a year, while coal and oil produced 10.6 and 10.2 billion tons, respectively.
According to the Special Report on Emissions Scenario by 2030, natural gas will be 11 billion tonnes per year, with coal and oil now at 8.4 and 17.2 billion respectively due to a 1.9% year-on-year increase in demand.
The cleanest of all fossil fuel
Natural gas is often described as the cleanest fossil fuel. It produces 25%–30% and 40%–45% less carbon dioxide per joule distributed than oil and coal respectively and is likely to pollute less than other hydrocarbon fuels. However, in absolute terms, it includes a significant percentage of human carbon emissions, and these emissions are forecast to increase.
Most effective fossil fuel
Natural gas also has an outstanding advantage of catching fire quickly and then turning off so it does not waste any fuel. In the manufacturing industry, natural gas is considered friendlier than oil and coal. That’s why natural gas is considered the most effective fossil fuel.
Cons of using natural gas
The use of natural gas will also have disadvantages. And here are the cons of natural gas energy
Non renewable source of energy
What are the cons of natural gas? Natural gas are non-renewable fossil resources formed by the decomposition of plant and animal carcasses over millions of years.
Natural gas plays a very important role in life and the demand for this type of energy is very high. However, natural gas is a non-renewable form of energy. And increasing demand while supply is depleted could lead to a global energy crisis.
Produce greenhouse emissions
The process of exploiting and using fossil fuels such as natural gas has many impacts on the environment. For example, the extraction of natural gas can cause the disappearance of vegetation and topsoil, increase soil erosion (if exploited openly) or cause soil subsidence or water pollution (if underground mining). All of these problems lead to bad consequences that are causing the global greenhouse effect.
According to IPCC data, 56.6% of all greenhouse gases produced by human activity come from the use of fossil fuels. In particular, coal generates the most greenhouse gas emissions, twice as much as natural gas and 30% more than gasoline.
Large initial cost
Natural gas extraction will require surveys by geologists as well as be equipped with sophisticated technologies. In addition, it will take a long time to find potential areas to exploit this fuel source. It can be said that the process of locating and exploiting is very complicated, so the initial cost of natural gas is huge. And not at this time the extraction and exploration of natural gas sources is also successful.
The hiring of workers, the payment of geologists, the investment in high-tech machinery and many other aspects have made the initial cost of this fuel quite large.
Difficult to harness
The process of extracting natural gas has to go through many stages, so this is considered a difficult source of fuel to exploit.
While natural gas exploitation in key fields in 2019 is in a period of depletion, production has decreased sharply, the coal industry is not very positive when it is forecasted that it will continue to face many difficulties such as the mining conditions of mines are getting deeper and further.
The extraction of natural gas is reported to be in a period of depletion, production has decreased sharply, newly discovered fields are quite small, marginal, complex development and operating conditions, high costs …and so on.
A flammable substance
Leaking gas usually carries a low risk of fire and explosion. It only occurs when the LPG/Air volume ratio reaches the fire limit. This limit of gas in narrow environments is usually between 1.8% and 10%.
If gas leaks and accumulates in an enclosed space, with the effect of a heat conductor such as a flame, then fire and explosion can occur.
Effect human health
- Some natural gas fields produce sour gas containing hydrogen sulfide. This is an extremely toxic gas, which can be fatal if inhaled.
- Heating using natural gas can cause CO poisoning if not vented or poorly vented.
- Natural gas is a gas that causes asphyxiation: In case the concentration of natural gas in the air exceeds the permissible level, it will cause the victim nausea, dizziness due to the decrease in the amount of oxygen in the blood
- Exposure to liquefied natural gas can cause phenomena such as skin blistering. The gas released by LNG is very cold and can cause cold burns, and tissues in the eyes can also be damaged despite the very short exposure time. If LNG vapors are inhaled, the lungs can be damaged.
- Air pollution caused by coal and fossil energy sources also causes many diseases for humans such as cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases. When exposed to coal dust for a long time, people are at high risk of black lung disease. According to one study, an estimated billion kWh of electricity produced from coal causes 225 serious cases, more than 13,000 other health problems and 24.5 deaths.
Pollute the environment
The process of exploiting and using fossil fuels also has many impacts on the environment. For example, the extraction of natural gas can cause the disappearance of vegetation and topsoil, increase soil erosion (if exploited openly) or cause soil subsidence or water pollution (if underground mining).
Extraction of natural gas will reduce the pressure in the reservoir. This can cause subsidence, sinking to the ground above, causing ecosystems, waterways, water supply and drainage systems, foundations,… severely affected.
The exploitation of offshore natural gas poses many risks for aquatic organisms… The process of transporting natural gas… also requires large energy sources, and largely uses traditional fossil fuels.
Might produce radioactive waste while harness
Natural gas extraction also produces some radioactive isotopes of polonium (Po210-), lead (Pb210-) and radon (Rn220-). Radon is a gas with an initial activity of 5-200,000 becquerels per cubic meter of gas and quickly decomposes into Po210 – which can accumulate into thin films in gas extraction equipment. In some cases, natural gas leaks can cause large explosions, which can damage people and property.
Comparing the pros and cons of natural gas and the current state of fossil fuel sources. Advanced countries have turned to developing alternative energy sources, limiting the use of coal and fossil fuels, with the goal of sustainable development and combating climate change is increasingly serious.