Ever wonder how we get our gas or the differences of the gas you put in your car compared to the gas that heats your water at home?
First off, we need to look at crude oil. Crude oil is a dark, sticky liquid that cannot be used without changing its form. It is found beneath the earth and drilled heavily to become accessible, then a well is made to transfer the gas and oil located deep down.
Once it is brought to the surface, the first part of refining the oil is to heat it until it boils. From there, the liquid is boiled between 80-350 degrees Celsius (176-662 degrees Fahrenheit) and separated into different liquids and gases; gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel, lubricating oil, tar etc. which is then used for vehicles, chemicals, jets, heavy machinery, wax, power stations and even our roads.
Natural gas is found close by crude oil, deep below the Earth’s surface. Like crude oil, it is a fossil fuel too and there is no telling how long ago they were created, one theory is they were both created millions of years ago when plants and sea animals were buried by rock and sand. The layers of mud, sand, rock, plant, and animal matter continued to build up until the pressure and heat turned them into oil and gas. Both have similar uses but may differ in the effect and outcome of their use. A form of fracking is used to bring both to the surface
Crude oil and natural gas both consist of hydrocarbons, meaning they are both made of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The difference is natural gas has much less atoms which means it always stays in gas form under regular temperatures and pressures, while crude oil has much more, so it mostly stays in liquid form, besides the gases that escape the boiling process. Needless to say, that makes natural gas much lighter, even lighter than air.
Natural gas consists mostly of methane but is still much cleaner than gasoline, from a carbon standpoint. It produces much less carbon dioxide, making it safer for our environment, but because it requires a lot of energy to compress, it would need a much larger tank than standard gasoline for fuel use, which is why we use gasoline in our vehicles. Beyond that, the demand for crude oil in most vehicles is because crude oil is cheaper than natural gas.
Crude oil is also used to make Liquefied Petroleum Gas for cooking and heating in homes, mostly in the big cities though because the gas passes through pipelines connected to houses and buildings. Other things that make crude oil high in demand is its use for making women’s cosmetics, plastics, rubber, and other similar stuff.
Natural gas is used for the same, once gas is located under the ground, wells are drilled and gas is brought up from the reservoirs to the surface through pipes. Huge networks of pipes bring gas to us from the wells. Large pipes take gas to power plants to make electricity and to factories and businesses. From these large pipes, the gas travels to smaller pipes and is brought to our homes. As gas passes into our homes, it travels through a meter which measures the amount of fuel we use in our appliances such as the furnace, water heater, dryers and stoves. The meter is then read by the gas company and we are charged for the amount we have used. Just like electricity, natural gas has to travel a long way to get to your home. It is also referred to as CGN (Compressed Natural Gas) and mostly used in rural homes. Natural gas is a non-renewable source also used as chemical feedstock in the manufacturing of plastics, glass, steel and paint, as well as for fertilizers because it produces ammonia which is helpful for plants’ growth. Both are major energy sources around the world.
Natural gas goes all the way back to the 500-1000 BC era where Chinese supposedly discovered a way to transport the gas seeping from the ground in crude pipelines of bamboo to where it was used to boil salt water to extract the salt, but the first industrial extraction on record was in New York, 1825. Given tests and studies on estimated remaining recoverable reserves, there is enough to last maybe 250 years, could be even sooner if we raise our consumption.
Natural gas is a major source of electricity generation through the use of cogenerations, gas turbines, and steam turbines. Natural gas is also well suited for a combined use in association with renewable energy sources such as wind or solar and for alimenting peak-load power stations functioning in tandem with hydroelectric plants. Most grid peaking power plants and some off-grid engine-generators use natural gas. Combined cycle power generation using natural gas is currently the cleanest available source of power, using hydrocarbon fuels, and this technology is widely and increasingly used as natural gas can be obtained at reasonable costs. This may eventually provide cleaner options for converting natural gas into electricity, but the cost is high.
Extraction of natural gas or oil leads to decrease in pressure in the reservoir, that decrease in pressure in turn may results in subsidence in the ecosystem, waterways, sewer, water supply or just sinking in of the ground. Looking at this illustration, as well as others before, you can see oil, gas, and water take up portions of the ground. If we continue to take much more than what is being produces, eventually it will just make a hollow cave, the force and pressure of everything above that cave could cause it to cave in, creating a sinkhole on the surface and ruining anything and everything in between.