There are many uses of natural gas, all of which benefit our society. From the early 19th to 20th centuries, natural gas was primarily used to power lights in buildings and on streets. Today, modern technology has allowed us expand the uses of natural gas, some of which include:
- Electricity Generation – The primary use for natural gas is to generate electrical power. Natural gas is the source of more than 25% of the nation’s electricity. According to the Energy of Information Administration, in 2035, 46% of new generating capacity added to the grid will come from natural gas.
- Heating – Heat produced from natural gas feels warmer than heat that is produced by an electrical pump. More than half of American homes use natural gas to provide heat, hot water and fuel for cooking. More businesses are turning to natural gas to heat offices spaces too, as it is more cost effective than electric heating pumps.
- Cogeneration and Trigeneration – Electrical energy and heating can be used simultaneously through the technological process of cogeneration, or in simpler terms combined heat and power. Trigeneration is the combination of electricity, heating and cooling. Both processes can increase energy efficiency by 75 to 80 percent.
- Transportation – Most people don’t realize that natural gas has been used to power vehicles since the 1930’s. Now, more than 150,000 vehicles on America’s roads and more than 5 million worldwide are powered by natural gas. This number is expected to increase due to the popularity of natural gas being used to fuel buses and trucks. Natural gas used in transportation reduces harmful emissions released into the air, which decreases smog pollution.
- Manufacturing – Steel and paper production uses natural gas to generate process steam for industrial applications. Natural gas is also used for petrochemicals, which are incorporated in plastics, fertilizers, synthetic fibers, cosmetics and medicines.
The many uses for natural gas have increased its use as a fuel source domestically and around the world. As society continues to use natural gas instead over other energy sources, we can reduce pollution and benefit from economic, public health and environmental benefits.