Natural gas is a fossil fuel, primarily containing methane, along with other hydrocarbons like ethane and butane. It is a very clean burning fuel. As it is found in nature, it is cheap and readily available, thus reducing our dependence on the import of fuels. Being natural, it does not lead to any harmful emissions. However, there are certain disadvantages that need to be considered while opting for natural gas as a substitute for artificial fuels. What are the disadvantages of natural gas? Firstly, it is a highly inflammable substance. Secondly, there are huge costs involved in transporting natural gas through pipes.
Possibility of explosions: Owing to the high percentage of methane in natural gas, it is highly combustible. There are high possibilities that methane explosions occur while extracting as also while actually using natural gas.
Gas leakage difficult to detect: Moreover, natural gas, being a colorless and an odorless substance, detection of gas leaks can be difficult. This makes the use of natural gas further riskier.
Extractions cause the ground to sink: The process of extraction of natural gas involves making large cavities in the ground. The cavities result in an increase in soil pressure and can cause the ground to sink. This makes it important to carry out the extraction and transport in a well managed and controlled environment.
Costly transport: Natural gas requires highly complex treatment plants and pipelines for its delivery. The pipelines transport the natural gas from the gas field to its actual site of use. These pipelines have to be laid underground and regularly checked for leakages. This adds to the maintenance costs of the pipelines.
Proves to be poisonous if inhaled: If not suitably processed in treatment plants; natural gas can prove to be poisonous. The methane contained in the natural gas reduces the supply of oxygen to our body. Inhaling large amounts of natural gas can prove lethal. Thus we see the need to take strict safety measures, during the processing and transport of natural gas.
Added expenditure on storage: Natural gas occupies four times the space of a gasoline-equivalent energy. Thus the storage requirements for natural gas increase. Natural gas storage tanks require higher amounts of weight and space. The strict storage requirements, the high maintenance costs in storage and transport and the risk-bearing means of transport of the natural gas, make it expensive. Being a natural resource, it is cheap. However, the added costs of processing, storage, and transport of natural gas have transformed it into a relatively expensive source of energy.
Today, the United States is the largest producer and consumer of natural gas. Natural gas contributes to around one-fourth of the energy consumption of the nation. It is used for industrial, commercial, as well as residential purposes. It is considered as a non-renewable source of energy. If the levels of the usage of natural gas continue to grow, this energy resource will eventually run out.
Natural gas is advantageous for its clean combustion process and availability. But a number of disadvantages of natural gas, make us think about whether it is truly the best choice for use as a fuel.