THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 17

Getting to Know

Natural Gas
processing plant

Gas Well

3

NATURAL GAS
WHY LEARN ABOUT NATURAL
GAS?
Of the energy sources available, Americans rely on natural gas
to supply approximately 27.5 percent of their total energy needs.
This ranks natural gas second in use only to oil which supplies
34.8 percent of our energy needs.
Natural gas is used to produce electricity, run industries, power
cars and heat homes. It is also used for cooking, drying clothes and
heating water. Businesses and industries use natural gas in many
ways, from cooking in restaurants to fueling high-temperature
blast furnaces for manufacturing steel. In fact, natural gas affects
everything we do and use.
Natural gas is fast becoming a preferred energy source for three main
reasons. First, it is the cleanest of all fossil fuels. As natural gas burns
it introduces virtually no pollutants into the environment. Second, the
delivery of natural gas is efficient, easy and convenient. And third,
the cost of natural gas is significantly less than that of comparable
fuels having equal British thermal unit values. A British thermal unit
(Btu) is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one
pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, equal to 1.055 kJ.

WHAT IS NATURAL GAS?

The following properties are inherent to natural gas:

2. Absence of color, odor and taste. Mercaptan is added to
natural gas during distribution. The mercaptan gives natural
gas a distinct, unpleasant odor and acts as a safety device by
allowing it to be detected in the air.
3. A hydrocarbon molecular structure. Almost
all components
Storage
in salt
found in natural gas contain only the elements
and
cahydrogen
vern
carbon, as shown in the table below:

Name

No. of
Carbon
Atoms

Molecular
Formula

Condensed Structural
Formula

Methane

1

CH4

CH4

Ethane

2

C 2H 6

CH3CH3

Propane

3

C 3H 8

CH3CH2CH3

Butane

4

C4H10

CH3CH2CH2CH3

Natural Gas Fueling
Station

Gas pool heater

1.9
2.4

100.0 - 100.0

6

Efficiency

Gas furnace and
water heater

0
BIOCHEMICAL
METHANE

5,000

TEMPERATURE

10,000

Properties
OIL

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that forms from the
decay of once living things, like plankton, in the
15,000 oceans. It builds up in sedimentary rock. Natural
gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless. It is mostly
- 280 F
water.
methane, CH4. It burns to form carbon dioxide and 260
GAS

20,000

300 -330 F

Uses

Gas oven and range
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Natural gas is used for heating space, water
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Safety
generating electricity. Natural gas supplies
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nearly one-third of all the energy used in the United States.
Natural gas is an important part of our nation's
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It is used in homes but also in industry, businesses and to
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energy portfolio and using it safely is very
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impact on energy bills. Each degree can
and
fuel vehicles. Natural gas has become the fuel of choice for
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important. The chemical mercaptan is added to
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save one percent of your bill. Adjusting the water heater
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new power plants. It is also a good source of hydrogen for
natural gas to make it smell like rotten eggs. If you smell
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temperature, taking shorter showers and using highTurn
fuel cells, which can power buildings and cars. Natural gas is
it, get out of the building immediately. To avoid hitting
efficiency shower heads and faucets to reduce hot water
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used commercially in products and industry. For example,
a natural gas pipe, always call 811 before any digging
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use will help conserve natural gas and reduce energy
it is an ingredient used to make fertilizer, antifreeze, plastic,
project so pipes can be located and marked.
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medicine, fabric and many chemicals. It is also used as a heat
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2.

Exploration

Satellites and seismic imaging are often used
to find natural gas pockets in sedimentary
rock. Information from existing and new
wells, magnetometers and gravimeters are also used to
locate natural gas deposits. Natural gas is pulled from
wells both on land and offshore. It is often pumped from
a well along with oil. Other sources include coal bed
methane, shale gas and landfill gas. The rock may need to
be fractured to allow gas to flow through it.

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3.

Processing and
Transportation

Before natural gas can be used it must
be purified to separate liquids and other
chemicals from the methane. Gathering pipelines carry
raw natural gas to a processing plant. Interstate pipelines
carry gas long distances to local distribution systems.
Compressor stations keep gas flowing through over
two million miles of pipe across the country.

4.

Environment

Natural gas is the cleanest and most
efficient fossil fuel, creating less air
pollution and carbon dioxide (CO2)
for the amount of energy produced than coal or oil
products. Strict regulations and standards on natural gas
production, transportation, distribution and storage help
protect the environment.

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© 2017 * National Energy Foundation * 4516 South 700 East, Suite 100 * Salt Lake City, Utah 84107 * 800-616-8326 * nef1.org

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Oil and Natural Gas Generation
Printed on Recycled Paper in the USA.

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Tetrahedral Bonding of Hydrocarbon Molecules
© 2016 National Energy Foundation

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160 -180 F

1.

5

cy

R

IMMATURE

0.5

0.6 1.1 -

OIL WINDOW

2.0
0.7

1.6 -

Nitrogen
Carbon Dioxide

R

HYDROCARBONS GENERATED

WET
GAS

5.1 2.1 -

Butanes and heavier

R

Gas Dryer

DRY
GAS

Ethane
Propane

HOW IS NATURAL GAS
FORMED?

KEROGEN

89.5 - 92.5

Ethane
(C2H6)

Natural Gas vehicle

8. Tetrahedral bonding (a solid figure bonded by four triangle plane
surfaces) is characteristic of most compounds found in natural gas.

DEPTH (FEET)

PERCENT BY VOLUME

Butane
(C4H10)

Exploration

6. A boiling point of -161.5 C (-259 F).

TYPICAL NATURAL GAS COMPONENTS

Propane
(C3H8)

Petrochemical
plant

5. Burns with a blue flame when completely combusted,
producing water and carbon dioxide.

The prevailing scientific theory is that natural gas was formed
millions of years ago when plants and tiny sea animals were buried
by sand and rock. Layers of mud, sand, rock, plant and animal
matter continued to build up until the pressure and heat from the
earth turned them into a tar-like substance called kerogen. As
temperatures continued to increase and the kerogen continued
"cooking," more refined compounds of carbon and hydrogen, known
as oil, were formed. Natural gas is generated at the same time as
oil; however, peak generation occurs when oil begins to break down
because of high geothermal temperatures, e.g. greater than 205 C
(400 F). This range of oil generation is called the oil window.

Methane
(CH4)

Natural gas power
plant

4. Non-toxic in nature.

Natural gas may also be categorized according to its composition.
It can be a dry gas, containing few liquid hydrocarbons; a wet gas,
heavy in hydrocarbon liquids (sometimes containing water vapor);
a sour gas, containing hydrogen sulfide; or a sweet gas, which
may have a trace of sulfur but no hydrogen sulfide. Although the
composition of natural gas varies widely from field to field, the
percentages by volume shown in the following table represent
what is typically found at most wellheads.

Total

Environment

Liquefied natural
gas (LNG) storage
tanks

unde
rg
pip roun
eline d

7. A heating value of 800 to 1200 Btu per cubic foot.

Methane

4

Seismic exploration
truck

Natural gas is a combustible, gaseous mixture of simple
hydrocarbon compounds, usually found in deep underground
reservoirs formed by porous rock. Natural gas is a fossil fuel
composed almost entirely of methane, but does contain small
amounts of other gases, including ethane, propane, butane and
pentane. Methane is composed of a molecule of one carbon atom
and four hydrogen atoms.

COMPONENTS

2

1. A flammability range of 5 to 15 percent. This means that any
mixture containing less than 5 percent or greater than 15
percent natural gas to air would not support combustion.

LNG transport ship

Processing and
Transportation

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classrooms in their communities. Energy
Safe Kids (ESK) was developed to educate
on natural gas and natural gas safety. This
program is really a suite of programs which
can be used separately or in conjunction
with the others, including high energy inclass presentations, classroom materials
distribution, interactive online learning
and student competitions. ESK programs
provide teachers with useful materials that
will assist them to accurately teach energy
related STEM education to their students.
Schools who participate in ESK
classroom presentations go along on
the natural gas journey to learn how it
is formed, ways it is used, its connection
to the the larger energy picture and how
to use it safely both at home and in the
community. Professional NEF educators
spark students' interest through interesting
content, hands-on experiments, games, and
presentations with engaging imagery.
Children are an amazing catalyst into
the home and are able to influence their
parents, siblings and community in ways
that no utility advertising program could
achieve. When asked what part of this
program was found to be the most valuable
to students, one teacher from Ohio said
"What to do if they suspect a gas leak.
My students talked about how they went
home and informed their parents, and their
parents didn't even know that information."
This is what makes these programs
so impactful ... the learning continues
even after the presentation is over, and

that makes it a sustainable investment!
Each participating student is provided
with take-home materials, with safety
information, activities, scratch and
sniff mercaptan stickers and a home
safety checklist that students complete
with their parents. Some programs
even include kits with energy saving
technologies for students to install in
their own homes.
Many utilities, like York County
Natural Gas, work with NEF to deliver
learning materials directly to the
classroom. Using the Academy of Natural
Gas Education program, part of the ESK
suite, teachers request grade appropriate
natural gas and natural gas safety
materials sponsored by their local gas
provider. Each classroom packet contains
an assortment of hands-on learning
materials, along with access to the ESK
website. "The Academy of Natural Gas
Education program helps us target all
age groups from elementary through
high school with age appropriate
information and activities," said Amy
Cassidy from York County Natural Gas.
Every year digital learning resources
become more and more necessary in
education efforts.
Through gamified curriculum, videos,
sounds and activities, students can
continue the learning process both in
and out of the classroom. "They [the
students] loved the website, it was very
interactive," said one Missouri teacher.

™

Teachers can also access additional online
lesson plans, activities, STEM and Common
Core matrices, explaining how to align
materials with standards they are required
to teach.
Technology provides excellent and fun
opportunities for student involvement in
competitions. Interest and familiarity with
videography opens the doors for students
to share with their community how to be
safe and efficient with energy. By creating
and submitting short videos highlighting
their energy saving and learning efforts,
student strengthen their understanding
and practice skills that may help them in
the future. For younger students, coloring
and slogan contests provide opportunities
for creative thoughts and understanding
about energy safety.
NEF programs have been a proven
success at reaching students of all ages
and providing information that they may
have otherwise never received, including
generating interest in energy-related
jobs, a lifelong respect for energy, and
how to use it safely and efficiently. The
importance of educating students about
energy stewardship and energy safety has
never been so great. Through education,
we are building perceptions and attitudes
based in fact. Invest in the long game.
Invest in energy education!
Ian Wright is the Director of Business
Development at National Energy Foundation
ian@nefl.org.
THE SOURCE | WINTER 2017, VOL. 10, ISSUE 2 17


http://www.nef1.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of THE SOURCE - Winter 2017

A Vision from Our Industry: Listen, Define, Allocate, Execute
First Person
APGA Events
Q&A: Chairman Chatterjee
Furnace Rule Update
Delivering the Needs of Customers Through Legislative Action
Reaching Your Future Customers
Whistling In The Dark: Shortcomings of Natural Gas Indices Persist
Growth in Renewable Natural Gas
Legislative Outlook
The Pipeline
Marketing Matters
At Last
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - intro
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - ebelly1
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - ebelly2
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - A Vision from Our Industry: Listen, Define, Allocate, Execute
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - cover2
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 3
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 4
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 5
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 6
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 7
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - First Person
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 9
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - APGA Events
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Q&A: Chairman Chatterjee
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Furnace Rule Update
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 13
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Delivering the Needs of Customers Through Legislative Action
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 15
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Reaching Your Future Customers
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 17
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Whistling In The Dark: Shortcomings of Natural Gas Indices Persist
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 19
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 20
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Growth in Renewable Natural Gas
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 22
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Legislative Outlook
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 24
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - The Pipeline
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - Marketing Matters
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 27
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - At Last
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 29
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - 30
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - cover3
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - cover4
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert1
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert2
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert3
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert4
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert5
THE SOURCE - Winter 2017 - outsert6
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0218
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0417
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0317
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0217
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0117
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0416
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0316
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0216
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0116
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0415
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0315
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0215
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/PGAQ/PGAQ0115
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com