How is natural gas produced?- natural gas for kids
The most important gas that we use as a source of energy is natural gas.
We don’t have to make this. It is found in deposits under the ground, usually near deposits of oil.
Natural gas is a mixture of several gases, including butane and propane.
Most of it is methane.
Natural gas comes from vegetation that decomposed millions of years ago.
Natural gas is used to provide heat for industry, and also for cooking and heating in our homes.
It comes to our homes through pipes laid under the streets of towns and cities and across the countryside.
In some places, natural gas is piped direct from the gas production platforms, where it has been pumped up from beneath the seabed or from deep underground.
In other places, it is shipped as a liquid in refrigerated tankers. It is pumped from the ships into storage tanks at the docks.
Adding a smell
Unlike gas made in gasworks, natural gas doesn’t have an odor.
This means that we would not be able to tell if a pipe were leaking gas into the air. Because natural gas is mostly methane, it can easily explode when mixed with oxygen.
So a smell is added to the gas before it reaches us to help us detect any possible leaks.
The world’s supply of natural gas, formed millions of years ago, won’t last forever.
Scientists cannot agree about how long supplies will last, but it could be as little as 75 years.
By then, methane might be available from sources such as sewage.
When bacteria break down sewage at the sewage treatment plant, methane is given off. This gas could be collected and stored as a fuel.
Gases and decay
One day, each plant and animal alive on this earth will die. If nothing happened to all these dead things, they would be left lying all over the earth.
But fortunately, when the cells of living things die, they quickly start to change, or decompose.
Most of the decomposing work is done by tiny living things called bacteria.
These break down the chemicals in dead plants and animals, and change them into simple substances, Some of these substances, such as nitrogen, return to the soil.
Nitrogen helps produce new growth in plants.
Fertilizers contain certain percentages of nitrogen, usually in combination with oxygen.
Gases from garbage
Some of the substances produced by decomposition are given off as gases.
Large amounts of household waste are dumped in huge garbage dumps in and around our cities and towns. As this garbage decomposes, it gives off different gases.
The main gases given off by rotting garbage are carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane, nitrogen and oxygen.
As time goes by, the amount of each gas given off by the garbage alters. For instance, after about six months the two gases given off are oxygen and nitrogen.
But after five years the garbage gives off mostly carbon dioxide and methane.
The methane gas can be collected and used as a fuel.
Methane gas can cause great danger to miners. When miners are drilling into the rock surface, they sometimes break through into deposits of methane. The gas escapes, and if there is air present, a terrible explosion can take place. Sparks from electric switches or from friction between steel and rock can cause the inflammable methane to ignite. Mines now have very strict safety rules in order to prevent these explosions.