Top 4 Benefits Of Natural Gas

All areas of our lives are literally run by energy. And with various options of energy consumption choices, it’s always good to know the benefits of each one of them so that you make a great consumer choice. Today, in this article, we are focusing on natural gas and are going to take you through some of its top benefits. So if that’s what you have been searching for, then you are at the correct place. Let’s get started!

  1. Clean Burning Fuel

When compared to coal, oil, and diesel, natural gas is cleaner as it emits the least percentage of carbon dioxide and other related harmful chemicals. So when you use one, you don’t have to invest in emission lowering technologies as the efficiency is top notch. Also, since it’s odorless, it makes little contribution to air pollution and doesn’t cause any harm when inhaled by people and animals.

  1. Versatile

There is a given sort of flexibility and convenience that comes with the use of natural gas. With it, you enjoy the ease of starting and turning off as it won’t take much of your time. Also, since it isn’t dependent on the wind or the sun, it can function pretty well when used with solar and wind powers. It’s a source you can depend on no matter the weather conditions outside.

So if this seems like something you would like to try out, then it’s advisable to carefully go through an apples to apples comparison of the various natural gas providers and settle for one according to your needs and financial capability.

  1. Affordable

With the current hard economic times, people are always on the lookout for affordable but efficient options when it comes to products or services affecting their billings. So natural gas couldn’t have been easily accessible at a better time. In fact, it’s by far one of the cheapest energy options in the current market. This is because, even as you calculate the long-term costs of seemingly cheap options such as generators, you will realize that they aren’t as affordable as they might appear in the beginning. Take the fuel and maintenance costs, for example, you will end up spending much more than you can ever imagine.

But this isn’t the case with natural gas. According to recent findings, its cost is expected to remain constant or relatively unchanged at least even for the next decade. So you can be sure that it’s a long-term investment, worth every cent. You make one and forget about unnecessary expenses.

  1. Reliable Delivery Infrastructure

This is probably one of the natural gas‘s primary benefits. This is because you can still receive your delivery of natural gas even during extreme weather conditions such as storms, through the pipes. A case that’s different from other energy sources. Also, the infrastructure is already established in most urban areas.

Final Thoughts

Natural gas is a clean fuel that can be used in various places while keeping the air fresh and clean. Together with this, there are various benefits associated with its use and this includes the affordability, reliable infrastructure, versatility, among others. The above list isn’t exhaustive.

Biomethane Utilization Pathways

biomethane-transportBiogas can be used in raw (without removal of CO2) or in upgraded form. The main function of upgrading biogas is the removal of CO2 (to increase the energy content) and H2S (to reduce risk of corrosion). After upgrading, biogas possesses identical gas quality properties as  natural gas, and can thus be used as natural gas replacement. The main pathways for biomethane utilization are as follows:

  • Production of heat and/or steam
  • Electricity production / combined heat and power production (CHP)
  • Natural gas replacement (gas grid injection)
  • Compressed natural gas (CNG) & diesel replacement – (bio-CNG for transport fuel usage)
  • Liquid natural gas (LNG) replacement – (bio-LNG for transport fuel usage)

Prior to practically all utilization options, the biogas has to be dried (usually through application of a cooling/condensation step). Furthermore, elements such as hydrogen sulphide and other harmful trace elements must be removed (usually trough application of an activated carbon filter) to prevent adverse effects on downstream processing equipment (such as compressors, piping, boilers and CHP systems).

Although biogas is perfectly suitable to be utilized in boilers (as an environmental friendlier source for heat and steam production), this option is rather obsolete due to the abundance of alternative sources from solid waste origin.

Most Palm Oil Mills are already self-reliant with respect to heat and steam production due to the combustion of their solid waste streams (such as EFB and PKS). Consequently, conversion to electricity (by means of a CHP unit) or utilization as natural gas, CNG or LNG replacement, would be a more sensible solution.

The biogas masterplan as drafted by the Asia Pacific Biogas Alliance foresees a distribution in which 30% of the biomethane is used for power generation, 40% for grid injection and 30% as compressed/liquefied fuel for transportation purpose (Asian Pacific Biogas Alliance, 2015).

For each project, the most optimal option has to be evaluated on a case to case basis. Main decision-making factors will be local energy prices and requirements, available infrastructure (for gas and electricity), incentives and funding.

For the locations where local demand is exceeded, and no electricity or gas infrastructure is available within a reasonable distance (<5-10 km, due to investment cost and power loss), production of CNG could offer a good solution.

Moreover, during the utilization of biogas within a CHP unit only 40-50% of the energetic content of the gas is converted into electricity. The rest of the energy is transformed into heat. For those locations where an abundance of heat is available, such as Palm Oil Mills, this effectively means that 50-60% of the energetic content of the biogas is not utilized. Converting the biogas into biomethane (of gas grid or CNG quality) through upgrading, would facilitate the transportation and commercialisation of over 95%  of the energetic content of the biogas.

Within the CNG utilization route, the raw biogas will be upgraded to a methane content of >96%, compressed to 250 bar and stored in racks with gas bottles. The buffered gas (bottles) will be suitable for transportation by truck or ship. For transportation over large distances (>200km), it will be advised to further reduce the gas volume by converting the gas to LNG (trough liquefaction).

Overall the effects and benefits from anaerobic digestion of POME and utilization of biomethane can be summarized as follows:

  • Reduction of emissions i.e. GHG methane and CO2
  • Reduced land use for POME treatment
  • Enhanced self-sufficiency trough availability of on-site diesel replacement (CNG)
  • Expansion of economic activities/generation of additional revenues
    • Sales of surplus electricity (local or to the grid)
    • Sales of biomethane (injection into the natural gas grid)
    • Replacement of on-site diesel usage by CNG
    • Sales of bottled CNG
  • Reducing global and local environmental impact (through fuel replacement)
  • Reducing dependence on fossil fuel, and enhances fuel diversity and security of energy supply
  • Enhancement of local infrastructure and employment
    • Through electrical and gas supply
    • Through Fuel (CNG) supply

Co-Authors: H. Dekker and E.H.M. Dirkse (DMT Environmental Technology)

Note: This is the second article in the special series on ‘Sustainable Utilization of POME-based Biomethane’ by Langerak et al of DMT Environmental Technology (Holland). The first article can be viewed at this link