Natural gas is a mixture of gases formed in the bowels of the earth by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. Typically, it as a mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons (methane, ethane, propane, butane, etc.) that is formed in the earth’s crust and is widely used as a highly economical fuel for power plants in the ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, cement and glass industry, in the production of building materials and for general communal needs, as well as raw material for many organic compounds.
Natural gas is a natural resource. It is also often a byproduct gas in oil production. Natural gas can be found in a gaseous state in separate clusters (gas reservoirs) or as a gas cap in oil field – a free gas or dissolved in oil or water. It is gaseous in normal conditions at 0.101325 MPa and 20 ° C. In addition to that, natural gas can be in the form of hydrates.
The main part of natural gas is methane (CH4) – up to 98%. The composition of natural gas may also contain heavier hydrocarbons:
- Butane (compound) (C4H10),
- Propane (C3H8),
- Ethane (C2H6).
As well as methane homologues and other non-carbonic substances:
- Hydrogen (H2),
- Hydrogen sulfide (H2S),
- Carbon dioxide (CO2),
- Nitrogen (N2),
- Helium (Ne2).
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. To be able to determine the leak by smell, an odorant is added before giving it to consumers. The odorant is a substance with a specific penetrating odor. Etylmerkaptan (C2H5SH) or a mixture of natural mercaptans (C2H3P) is usually used as an odorant. During transportation through the pipeline, natural gas contains no odorant, as it is aggressive substance and may cause the pipe wall corrosion.
Natural gas is in the earth at a depth from 1,000 meters to several kilometers. In the depths, natural gas is in microscopic cavities, called pores. These pores are interconnected with each other by the microscopic channels – cracks. Through these channels, gas comes from the high-pressure pores to the low-pressure pores until it is caught in a chink. Natural gas is extracted from the earth through wells. Chinks have to be placed evenly across the field. This is done for a uniform reservoir pressure drop in the deposit or there is possibility of the gas interchange between deposits, as well as premature deposit flooding.
Natural gas goes up because the pressure in the layer is significantly higher than atmospheric. Thus, the driving force is the pressure difference in the layer and collection system.
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