Why natural gas is a non renewable energy
Natural gas is an energy that has many benefits compared to others, such as being cleaner in terms of waste emissions, and being more efficient, because it is cheaper or easier to store. However, contrary to what many people think, natural gas is not a renewable energy, but a fossil fuel, like coal or oil and, in fact, the aforementioned advantages are over these other two fossil fuels.
What is the natural gas
Natural gas is found within fossil fuels or energies , just like coal or oil. It is a mixture of different hydrocarbons, that is, its main components are carbon (C) and hydrogen (H2). Therefore, natural gas is made up of gases that are extracted from fossil deposits. These fields are not unlimited, so natural gas is a non-renewable energy .
Natural gas is part of the primary energies, since it is found in nature without the need for transformation, along with solar energy, coal or oil. This energy source began to be used as fuel in the 1960s. It is also used as a raw material in some chemical processes.
Currently, natural gas is produced in two forms :
- Liquefied gas: it is the type that becomes liquid. It is made with a mixture of butane and propane. This form of gas can be found in household cylinders. And it is obtained during the extraction of oil or during its refining. This form of obtaining continues to be a minority.
- Methane: it is stored in a liquid state at low temperature and high pressure, but it is transported in a gaseous state. This is the form that is used for vehicles.
Natural gas properties
This gas mixture is lighter than water, it does not present toxicity, it is colorless and odorless (originally). Its main component is methane (CH4) , although it can also contain other gases such as ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8) or pentane (C5H12), although its composition changes according to its geographical and geological origin and is also associated with dioxide. carbon, nitrogen or helium, which is extracted during the industrial process. For example, in the Lacq deposit (France), it is associated with sulfur compounds.
To obtain the energy contained in the hydrocarbon bonds of this gas, it undergoes a thermodynamic reaction of exothermic oxidation, resulting in the production of energy in the form of heat and chemical energy . The calorific value of natural gas depends on its composition, but the highest figures are between 8,500 and 10,200 kcal per m 3 .
Among other properties of natural gas are the lower emission of waste and other atmospheric emissions compared to other fossil fuels, and that its high efficiency for obtaining electricity in thermal power plants is cheaper than other sources or its easy storage compared with coal or oil.
Uses of natural gas today
The treatment of natural gas in liquid state, its transformation, storage and transportation is the way that poses the most problems, in addition to requiring the largest investments. This is why, usually in the commercial market, it is preferred to use natural gas in its gaseous state. Among the current uses of natural gas are:
- Electricity production: thanks to the operation of gas, steam or combined cycle turbines. In OECD countries, the use of natural gas for this purpose is growing, since it is much cleaner and cheaper than the use of other energies.
- Fuel in transport: it is used at high pressures and it is a cleaner and less expensive energy.
- Home use: Natural gas is used as energy for cooking, heating or as a method of heating water. As an alternative in heating.
- Industrial processes: in textile, plastics or steel industries. Natural gas is also a raw material for obtaining nitrogen fertilizers.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that has formed over millions of years on land as a result of anaerobic decomposition (without oxygen) of remains of dead organisms buried under the seabed or in lakes. This process subjected these materials to high pressures and temperatures, which gradually altered their chemical composition. Natural gas is one of the gases that was released during this decomposition and was buried in large pockets underground.
From the production process it can be seen that it is a non-renewable source of energy, since we obtain that gas, which cannot be renewed within a relatively normal or short time, but it would take millions of years to reappear and it is not safe. that could form again due to current oxygen levels on Earth.