Natural gas is a naturally occurring mixture of simple aliphatic hydrocarbons and small amount if hydrogen. Among aliphatic hydrocarbons it mainly contains methane (CH4) with a little ethane (C2H6) and propane (C3H8). Thus, methane is the principal constituent of natural gas (up to 97%). Natural gas occurs deep under the earthy either alone or along with petroleum deposits.
Thus, during petroleum mining natural gas is always obtained as a by-product, but there are some wells that produce only natural gas. In our country, natural gas wells have been discovered in Tripura, Jaisamler, offshore areas of Bombay and in the Krishna-Guava delta. After extraction from wells, the gas is purified to remove impurities such as water and sulphur and then sent through pipelines for use.
What are the uses of Natural Gas?
1. Natural gas is a near ideal fuel and is used as the fuel for domestic and industrial purposes.
Natural gas as a fuel has the following advantages:
(a) It has high calorific value (55 kj/g).
(b) It burns with high out put with no residue and smoke. Thus, it causes no pollution.
(c) It is easy to transport. It can be supplied to homes and factories directly through pipes. Although the initial cost of laying down long pipelines in high but it is economical in the long run as it eliminates the need for storage and transport of the gas. Such a network of pipeline exists in Baroda.
2. Natural gas is a rich source of hydrogen gas which is needed in the manufacture of fertilizers.
3. Natural gas containing H2S is a source of sulphur.
4. Natural gas containing helium is a major source of helium. Helium is an important safe substitute for hydrogen in balloons.
5. It is used for the manufacture of drugs, detergents and plastics.