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Energy Glossary

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a fossile fuel consisting of a mixture of different alcanes like methane, ethane, propane, butane and other gaseous compounds.

Usage of natural gas

Especially methane is very versatile compound which can be burned in

  • heatings
  • cooking devices
  • gas operated power plants, combined cycle power plants
  • car engines
  • gas lamps.

Environmental properties of natural gas

Compared to coal or diesel fuel the specific carbon dioxide release (amount of carbon dioxide per energy unit) is much lower. Desulphured natural gas products burned in gas turbines (mostly power plants) has near zero values of sulphur dioxide and low values of nitrogen oxides. The latter emissions lead to acid rain.

Storage and transport of natural gas/Methane

These fuels can be stored in

  • tanks as gas under moderate pressures
  • liquefied in well insulated tanks
  • gas cylinders under high pressures (20-50 Megapascals)

Transportation is done via

  • pipelines at moderate pressures
  • liquefied in large ships (4-6 spherical highly insulated tanks

Pipelines are well suited for long term delivery of natural gas/methane from a source to consumers. Using tank ships with liquefied gas is the better solution for higher flexibility or if the building of gas pipelines are not possible. Japan, as island, is therefore the largest adoper of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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