What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas is a combustible, gaseous mixture of simple hydrocarbon compounds, usually found in deep underground reservoirs formed by porous rock. Natural gas is a colorless, odorless fossil fuel composed almost entirely of methane, but does contain small amounts of other gases, including ethane, propane, butane and pentane.
Natural gas is used extensively in residential, commercial and industrial applications. It is the dominant energy used for home heating, with about 51 percent of American homes using gas. The use of natural gas is also rapidly increasing in electric power generation and cooling, and as a transportation fuel.
Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, producing primarily carbon dioxide, water vapor and small amounts of nitrogen oxides. Other fossil fuels are coal and oil, which together with natural gas, account for about 88 percent of U.S. energy consumption.
Currently, oil provides the largest share of U.S. energy consumption – about 41 percent of the entire market. Natural gas provides about 24 percent, coal 23 percent, hydropower four percent and nuclear power eight percent. However, about half of the oil Americans use is imported; in contrast, 85 percent of the natural gas U.S. consumers use is produced domestically. The remaining 15 percent primarily comes from Canada via pipeline.