Natural Gas: Advantages and Disadvantages
What is Natural Gas? Natural gas is a type of flammable gas. It is most commonly made up of methane and hydrocarbons.
Natural gas is used widely throughout the world. It is found underground where it has often built up over tens of thousands of years.
When it is sold on the market, natural gas can come in many forms. The two main forms are liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG).
Advantages of Natural Gas.
- Easy to transport. Natural gas can be piped across whole continents and under the sea. Thus, natural gas reserves in one part of the world can be used to the advantage of people in other countries too.
- High energy. Natural gas provides a high amount of energy per unit.
- Versatile. Natural gas can be used both in the home (for instance in gas cookers) and in industry (for instance to provide energy for power plants)
- Ideal for using as fuel. LNG makes a convenient fuel for vehicles.
- Easy to use. Natural gas does not require any processing: it can just be captured in its raw form and used whenever needed.
Disadvantages of Natural Gas.
- Fire danger. Natural gas is highly flammable and it can thus pose risks of fire.
- Polluting. When burned, natural gas releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.
- Costly storage and transportation. Expensive equipment and manpower are needed to store, safeguard and transport natural gas.
- Hard to detect. Natural gas is tasteless, odourless and invisible which can make it hard to detect leaks unless the gas is mixed with something (usually it is mixed with sulphur).
Natural gas is a powerful and efficient source of energy. Yet, this must be balanced against the risks it poses to the environment and human health.