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What is natural gas? What is carbon footprint for natural gas?

Because I have a project #natural

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Dilara,


Natural gas is made up of just two elements - carbon and hydrogen. It is part of a family of chemicals known as hydrocarbons, which also includes oil and gasoline. As its name suggests, natural gas comes out of the ground as a gas; oil, gasoline and other hydrocarbons are recovered mixed together in a liquid called crude oil.


Stage 1 -
All of the natural gas we use today began as microscopic plants and animals living in the ocean millions of years ago. As these microscopic plants and animals lived, they absorbed energy from the sun, which was stored as carbon molecules in their bodies. When they died, they sank to the bottom of the sea. Over millions of years, layer after layer of sediment and other plants and bacteria were formed.


Stage 2 -
As they became buried ever deeper, heat and pressure began to rise. The amount of pressure and the degree of heat, along with the type of biomass, determined if the material became oil or natural gas. Very high heat or biomass made predominantly of plant material produced natural gas.


Stage 3 -
After oil and natural gas were formed, they tended to migrate through tiny pores in the surrounding rock. Some oil and natural gas migrated all the way to the surface and escaped. Other oil and natural gas deposits migrated until they were caught under impermeable layers of rock or clay, where they were trapped. These trapped deposits are where we find oil and natural gas today.


Carbon Footprint


Today, the term “carbon footprint” is often used as shorthand for the amount of carbon (usually in tonnes) being emitted by an activity or organization. The carbon component of the Ecological Footprint takes a slightly differing approach, translating the amount of carbon dioxide into the amount of productive land and sea area required to sequester carbon dioxide emissions. This tells us the demand on the planet that results from burning fossil fuels. Measuring it in this way offers a few key advantages.


On a practical level, the Ecological Footprint shows us how carbon emissions compare and interact with other elements of human demand, such as our pressure on food sources, the quantity of living resources required to make the goods we consume, and the amount of land we take out of production when we pave it over to build cities and roads. The carbon Footprint is 54 percent of humanity’s overall Ecological Footprint and its most rapidly growing component. Humanity’s carbon Footprint has increased 11-fold since 1961. Reducing humanity’s carbon Footprint is the most essential step we can take to end overshoot and live within the means of our planet.


The Ecological Footprint framework enables us to address the problem in a comprehensive way, one that does not simply shift the burden from one natural system to another.


Read more in:


http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/carbon_footprint/


http://www.api.org/Oil-and-Natural-Gas-Overview/Exploration-and-Production/Natural-Gas/Natural-Gas-Uses


Good luck in your project!!

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Dilara
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Steve’s Answer

Wait - I'm not going to do your project... :)


That said, it's helpful to know about these two things and I deal with them a lot in my job. Natural gas is mostly made up of methane (CH4 - one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms). Typically, it's not pure methane as it gets contaminated by other things that seep into wherever it is held. A lot of times, that is deep in the ground near pockets of oil.


Carbon footprint refers to the impact of an activity or a thing on the environment, usually measured in terms of CO2e - which is the carbon dioxide equivalent. Just like in math when you're doing fractions, CO2e gives us a "common denominator" for measuring different activities. A carbon footprint is the sum of the carbon emissions (or their equivalent) associated with that activity or thing.


So think about driving: there's a carbon footprint associated with burning the gas you need. Burn a gallon of gas, create a gallon of gas worth of carbon emissions.


There is a carbon footprint to natural gas, too. Often people talk about natural gas as a "cleaner" alternative, but do not mistake it for having no footprint. Natural gas can be burned more cleanly than coal (which is used for about 50% of electricity generation, for example), but it's not as clean as a wind turbine. The wind turbine isn't zero, either. You've got to add in the emissions related to building the turbine, trucking it out to the field, etc. But when you compare that to building a power plant and burning coal, it's much much cleaner.


Natural gas is a good alternative for helping us transition from really dirty (coal) to really clean (wind, solar). It takes time and money and additional power lines to make wind turbines and solar our primary sources. Plus we'll always want to have back-up for nighttime or when the wind isn't blowing, etc. (but that happens a lot less than you think).


Hope that helps!

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