Natural Gas

Natural gas is the generic term used for the mixture of vapors that result from the decomposition of plant and animal materials over millions of years. Natural gas provides over 23.5% of the nation's energy, primarily for heating and generating electricity. Like oil and coal, natural gas is a nonrenewable resource, but burns much cleaner than the other two fossil fuels. The United States produces natural gas from wells within the U.S. but also imports natural gas from abroad.

Facts

  • The combustion of natural gas produces only a fraction of the nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions of oil and coal, and also results in essentially no particulate matter or sulfur dioxide emissions.
    Read more at the Power Scorecard.
  • Since it produces the least amount of greenhouse gases and air pollution of all fossil fuels and there is a substantial domestic supply, natural gas has become an increasingly popular source of energy; 900 out of 1000 new power plants are expected to use natural gas to produce electricity.
    Read more at the Department of Energy.
  • Combustion turbines use the hot gases generated by natural gas combustion to spin turbines to generate power (the technology is similar to a jet engine). To increase efficiency, natural gas combustion turbines can be combined with steam boilers in combined cycle plants. In a combined cycle plant, the hot gases from the combustion turbine are used to heat water to create steam to power a steam turbine which also generates electricity.
    Read more at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
  • Natural gas combined cycle power plants can be over 50 percent efficient at converting gas into electricity, compared to about 39 percent for superficial pulverized coal power plants.
    Read more at the National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • 16% of natural gas is imported, mostly through pipelines from Canada, but a growing percentage comes in the form of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)- which is cooled so that it can be transported or stored more easily. Read more at the Energy Information Administration.