Uses of methane natural gas

Updated April 17, 2017

Methane gas comes from fermenting organic matter and can be distilled from coal and natural gas. As the biomass of dead plants endures the Earth's heat and pressure, its energy-rich carbon molecules become materials from which methane can be extracted. Methane is the main component of natural gas. Chemistry professor Bassam Shakhashiri of the University of Wisconsin says, "The energy released by the combustion of methane, in the form of natural gas, is used directly" in homes and businesses.

Industrial Uses

Methane, in the form of natural gas, is used in a variety of industries. It's a common fabric, plastic, antifreeze and fertiliser ingredient. Industrial natural gas consumers include companies that make pulp and paper. Food processors, petroleum refineries and companies that work with stone, clay and glass, use the energy it releases. Methane-based combustion helps businesses dry, dehumidify, melt and sanitise their products. The use of methane natural gas in commercial settings also resembles home uses.

Home Uses

Natural gas is cheaper than electricity, according to the Natural Gas Supply Association. They affirm it is the "lowest-cost conventional energy source available for residential use." Home uses vary. Some consumers use the methane in natural gas as a source of energy while cooking. Others use it to heat and cool their homes.

Distributed Generation

Through a process called distributed generation, the methane in natural gas can create electricity. Microturbines (heat engines) and natural gas fuel cells can produce enough electrical energy to power a home. While distributed generation technology remains in its infancy, it has a promising future. The Natural Gas Supply Association predicts that distributed generation will offer homeowners energy independence. The first system of this kind was installed in a Latham, New York, home. The home strictly relies on a fuel cell and its natural gas line for its energy needs.

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About the Author

Christina Hadley holds a Bachelor of Arts in design. She writes copy for an assortment of industries. Her work also appears in the "Houston Chronicle" small business section. Hadley is a UCLA-certified computer professional. The British Museum recently featured one of her digital images in an exhibit.