Natural gas, often coined as one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources, is a colourless, shapeless, and odourless gas in its pure form. Natural gas utilized in homes for heating (among other purposes), is almost purely methane (one carbon and four hydrogen atoms, CH4), referred to as “dry” natural gas. When other hydrocarbons are present, e.g., Propane, ethane, butane, etc., the term “wet” natural gas is applicable.
When burnt, natural gas produces low amounts of carbon dioxide, water vapour and sometimes nitrogen oxides. Because of this low amount of CO2 released, Natural gas is considered one of the cleanest fossil fuels available and is in line with reducing Canadian carbon emissions. In fact, households that run only on natural gas produce up to 37% lower greenhouse gas emissions and are considered 92% energy efficient! (Provided that natural gas is not converted to electricity first)
Natural gas is abundant in North America and can be found in reservoirs, often associated with oil deposits. Production companies use sophisticated technologies to drill wells and extract resources. Natural gas once extracted, is refined, which removes water, sand, and other gases and compounds from the mix. Other hydrocarbons, e.g., Propane and butane as well as other impurities, e.g., Hydrogen sulfide which provides sulfur, are removed during this step and often sold separately. The end product is deemed “clean natural gas” which then enters pipelines to be taken to individual households and facilities.
Natural gas is typically measured in gigajoules (GJ), British Thermal Units (Btu), cubic feet, or cubic meters.