CNG is compressed natural gas and it is a vital component of the world’s supply of energy. It is one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful of all energy sources. Natural gas could be considered an uninteresting substance – it is colorless, shapeless, and odorless in its pure form. Quite uninteresting – except that natural gas is combustible, abundant in the United States, and when burned it gives off a great deal of energy with few emissions. Unlike other fossil fuels, natural gas is clean burning and emits lower levels of potentially harmful byproducts into the air. We require energy constantly, to heat our homes, cook our food, and generate our electricity. It is this need for energy that has elevated natural gas to such a level of importance in our society, and in our lives.
Natural gas is a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. While natural gas is formed primarily of methane, it can also include ethane, propane, butane and pentane. The composition of natural gas can vary widely, but below is a chart outlining the typical makeup of natural gas before it is refined. In its purest form, such as the natural gas that is delivered to your home, it is almost pure methane. Methane is a molecule made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, and is referred to as CH4 (pictured below). It is because of of its chemical makeup – the four hydrogen atoms to every carbon atom – that methane burns so much more cleanly than other fuels. The main byproduct of methane is essentially water and it releases approximately 1 carbon atom to every 27 released by burning petroleum fuels.
Natural gas is a clean, abundant form of energy that has many uses, residentially, commercially, and industrially – it has tremendous potential to help American regain control of her energy future.