In an age of environmental awareness and preservation, pollutants are becoming a primary target for elimination. The chief offenders of emissions are fossil fuels and their combustion in the production of energy. Fossil fuels are the dominant source of energy produced in the world today. The by-products emitted from the combustion of coal and diesel oil have become all the more unacceptable.
New innovations are under development and in use that will one day drastically curtail the need for fossil fuels. However, until the infrastructure is fully established to deliver and make full use of alternatives such as wind powered turbines and solar energy farms, an alternative such as clean natural gas is positioned to bridge the gap. Its use in transportation and energy production today are evidence of its potential.
Natural Gas in Transportation
Regardless of the position taken on global warming or climate change in general, the poor air quality and smog looming over every major metropolitan is undeniable. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation vehicles that predominately rely on diesel fuel or gasoline as their fuel source are among the largest contributors to smog and ground level ozone in cities and highly populated urban areas.
Nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide are but two of the ingredients emitted by transportation vehicles that when in the presence of the sun’s heat, spawn a chemical reaction that produces smog. As reported by the U.S. Department of Energy, if the same vehicles were converted to operate on natural gas, the production of harmful emissions such as nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, and other toxic emissions, could be significantly reduced.
Natural Gas in the production of Electricity
In 2002, the National Environmental Trust (NET) reported that power plants produced 67 percent of the sulfur dioxide and 25 percent of the nitrogen oxides discharged into the atmosphere. Coal fired electrical power plants have been the greatest contributor to these emissions. However, over the last few decades, natural gas is increasingly becoming the fuel of choice for new electrical power generating facilities. In fact, over 20 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. in 2009 was produced by Natural Gas facilities. This gradual shift to a cleaner, abundant source of natural gas will certainly have a positive effect on the reduction of harmful pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
The Natural Gas Advantage
Natural gas has been around and in use for many years. However more recently, its appeal has steadily increased as concerns over crude oil dependence and the environment have continued to grow. Going forward, natural gas is best positioned to become the nation’s primary fuel source. Some of the most immediate advantages are:
- An abundant domestic supply
- Clean burning as compared to more traditional fossil fuels
- Significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- Established delivery infrastructure to meet increased future demand
- Potential to break the nation’s dependence on foreign supply
The demands for increased transportation fuels and the generation of electricity are expected to continue for years to come. Natural gas can supply that need for future generations as additional green alternatives are further developed and established.