5 Natural Gas Myths and Facts
29 October, 2020
To settle some of the misinformation that’s floating around out there, let’s dive in to separating myth from fact with the following most popular claims.
Natural gas is explosive.
This is only partially true. Natural gas can be ignited but not without a heat source that is warmer than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, every gas has a certain concentration level at which it will combust. For natural gas, this range in concentration is between 5% and 15%. If natural gas is concentrated in an amount that is within this range, it is combustible. Otherwise, a clean flame is produced and perfectly fine.
Natural gas is toxic.
False. Natural gas cannot cause us to become sick unless it is in unusually high concentrations to the point where we can no longer breathe. If the amount of natural gas displaces the amount of air in an enclosed space, there are known symptoms to occur. Symptoms of low-level exposure can include headaches, fatigue and nausea. Symptoms of high-level exposure can include the same, along with memory problems, lack of coordination and loss of consciousness. However, natural gas is non-toxic meaning it isn’t inherently poisonous.
Natural gas stinks.
Nope. Natural gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless. The only case in which natural gas has a sulphuric smell to it is when an odorizer known as merceptan is deliberately added to it. The unmistakable smell of rotten eggs can alert you if there is a gas leak present in your home. However, it isn’t recommended to count on this safety precaution alone - make sure you have a certified CO detector properly installed in your home and regularly change its batteries when needed. If there is a gas leak present, do not turn on any appliances or lights and leave the area immediately.
Natural gas isn’t necessary when we have wind and solar resources.
Wind and solar just don’t compare to the availability and reliability of natural gas. People need power regardless of the weather or time of day and this is where wind and solar fall short. These renewables may seem like a great option, and they have their merit, but they make up a very small portion of the energy mix today. More needs to be done to find efficient storage options for wind and solar for them to be viable on a larger scale. In the meantime, natural gas is reliable and available in abundance at any time regardless of weather.
Banning natural gas will reduce CO2 emissions.
If the U.S. decides to ban natural gas altogether, production would increase in other countries with less strict environmental regulations. Additionally, further dependence on coal-generated power around the world, especially in markets where alternative renewable energy sources don’t yet exist, can be expected. In fact, upwards of 20 countries have turned to coal in the last year. The United States has significantly reduced the importance of coal in its electricity mix (31%, -15 points) because of the abundance of shale gas, not because of renewables. The “environmentally-friendly” gap between transitioning from coal to gas is much wider than the gap between transitioning from gas to renewables.
Natural gas is an excellent resource for heating homes, cooking food, and even creating plastic! It is touted as the cleanest fossil fuel that we have and is extremely budget friendly for homes across the United States!