Ask an Expert about Natural Gas

 

Have you ever wondered why natural gas flames are blue? Or who first discovered natural gas? Now you can get answers to these and all your natural gas-related questions. Just ask an Expert!

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NEW! Where does natural gas come from? Is it pumped through pipes like water, or is it delivered to a distribution center like gasoline?
—Joni

Answer: Natural gas is drawn from deep inside the earth up through wells and into pipelines. From there, it is pumped through large underground pipes to processing plants, and then through smaller pipes to homes and businesses. So, in fact, natural gas is distributed more like water than like gasoline. For more details, check out The Travels of Natural Gas section of this site at http://eversource.e-smartonline.net/66400_get_smart/66710_ngas_safety-smart/66731_travels_gas/index.html.

Is animal manure a source of energy?
—Lior

Answer: Yes, animal manure is a source of energy. Manure from hogs and cows on farms can be converted into methane and used much in the same way as natural gas—as a fuel that is burned to generate electricity, create heat, or run engines. Methane from animal manure is referred to as biogas. One biogas plant in California uses manure from feedlots to produce enough methane to supply electricity to heat about 20,000 homes.

Why does the flame on my stove burners look blue, but the flame of a campfire is yellow?
—Evan

Answer: A natural gas flame burns hotter than a campfire. In general, cooler flames appear yellow, orange, or red, while hotter flames look blue or white. (Flecks of orange in your gas flames are OK, but if the flame is yellow, large, and flickering, the appliance may need a safety adjustment by a qualified repair person.)

Who discovered natural gas?
—Sela

Answer: The ancient Chinese were the first to discover underground deposits of natural gas. In 600 BC, Confucius wrote of wells 100 feet deep yielding water and natural gas along the Tibetan borer. The Chinese piped the gas to where it was needed through long, hollow bamboo stalks.

Did Native American people use natural gas?
—LaVonne

Answer: Yes. In 1626, French explorers found Native Americans igniting gases that were seeping into and around Lake Erie.

How fast does natural gas move through pipelines?
—Nathaniel

Answer: Natural gas travels through pipelines at the slow and steady pace of 15 miles per hour.