Gas is something we take for granted in our everyday lives as a power source for heating, washing and cooking. But it’s also a highly powerful element which must be respected and can be deadly if abused.
Natural gas has no smell
Natural gas, as well as propane, smells like sulphur or rotten eggs. This smell is actually added and is caused by a trace chemical called mercaptan. Natural gas actually has no odour at all, but the chemical is added so that it can be detected easily in the event of a leak.
Millions of us use mains gas at home
In Britain, over 21 million homes are powered by mains gas – representing 83% of all UK households.
A cheaper energy source?
Although gas prices have risen in recent years, mains fed gas still remains the cheapest fuel for customers. Fuel poverty is more common in households which use electricity, oil or solid fuel.
What is the National Transmission System?
This is the equivalent to the National Grid for gas – and it is made up of gas pipelines that cover the UK and supply gas to forty power stations, directly from coastal gas terminals. The pipelines also supply gas distribution companies, which indirectly supply homes. The system is managed by National Grid PLC. There is over 6,600km of welded steel pipeline under the ground, and the gas travels at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. Compare this to the USA, which has over 2.1 million miles of gas pipelines housed underground!
Other interesting facts
Natural gas is an ancient fuel – formed deep underground around 100 million years ago. As far back as 200 BC, the Chinese were using it to make salt! It is lighter than air, and when cooled to -260 degrees, it turns into liquid!