What are the properties of natural gas?

Natural gas is the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel, which means it's cleaner than either oil or coal. For this reason, it's a very popular form of energy among residents, business owners and goverment policy makers.

Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon composed of methane (CH4), which is principally found in underground formations of porous rock. The natural gas used in the United States primarily comes from North America.

The following are properties of natural gas:

  • Natural gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless:

For safety reasons, Mercaptan, an odorant with a distinctive "rotten egg" smell, is added to natural gas. The odorant makes gas leaks easy to detect, due to the typical smell.

  • Natural gas is nontoxic:

This means inhaling natural gas will not cause ill effects. Heavy concentrations can cause drowsiness and breathing may become difficult.

Before this happens, however, a very strong odor would almost certainly alert you to the presence of gas.

  • Natural gas has a very limited range of flammability:

Natural gas is flammable only within a 5-15% gas-to-air mixture. And, it has a very high ignition temperature. The high ignition temperature and the limited flammability range make accidental ignition or combustion unlikely.

  • Natural gas is lighter than air:

This means that generally when natural gas is accidentally released into the outside air it will rise and vent harmlessly into the atmosphere, thus dissipating from the site of a leak. When a gas-and -air mixture within the flammable range collects in a confined space, it can accidentally ignite upon a source of ignition.