Print this page Share

Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-119-01286-3
264 pages
September 2015
Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century (1119012864) cover image


Natural gas is the world’s cleanest fossil fuel; it generates less air pollution and releases less CO2 per unit of useful energy than liquid fuels or coals. With its vast supplies of conventional resources and nonconventional stores, the extension of long-distance gas pipelines and the recent expansion of liquefied natural gas trade, a truly global market has been created for this clean fuel.

Natural Gas: Fuel for the 21st Century discusses the place and prospects of natural gas in modern high-energy societies. Vaclav Smil presents a systematic survey of the qualities, origins, extraction, processing and transportation of natural gas, followed by a detailed appraisal of its many preferred, traditional and potential uses, and the recent emergence of the fuel as a globally traded commodity. The unfolding diversification of sources, particularly hydraulic fracturing, and the role of natural gas in national and global energy transitions are described. The book concludes with a discussion on the advantages, risks, benefits and costs of natural gas as a leading, if not dominant, fuel of the 21st century.

This interdisciplinary text will be of interest to a wide readership concerned with global energy affairs including professionals and academics in energy and environmental science, policy makers, consultants and advisors with an interest in the rapidly-changing global energy industry.

See More

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 Valuable Resource with an Odd Name 1

1.1 Methane’s Advantages and Drawbacks 4

2 Origins and Distribution of Fossil Gases 13

2.1 Biogenic Hydrocarbons 14

2.2 Where to Find Natural Gas 19

2.3 Resources and the Progression of Reserves 27

3 Extraction, Processing, Transportation, and Sales 37

3.1 Exploration, Extraction, and Processing 40

3.1.1 Exploration and Drilling 41

3.1.2 Well Completion and Production 45

3.1.3 Natural Gas Processing 50

3.2 Pipelines and Storages 54

3.2.1 Modern Pipelines 56

3.2.2 Storing Natural Gas 62

3.3 Changing Production 65

4 Natural Gas as Fuel and Feedstock 71

4.1 Industrial Uses, Heating, Cooling, and Cooking 74

4.1.1 Industrial Uses of Natural Gas 75

4.1.2 Natural Gas for Space Heating and Cooling 77

4.1.3 Cooking with Natural Gas 79

4.1.4 Liquefied Petroleum Gas 80

4.2 Electricity Generation 81

4.2.1 Gas Turbines 82

4.2.2 CCGTs 85

4.3 Natural Gas as a Raw Material 88

4.3.1 Ammonia Synthesis 90

4.3.2 Plastics from Natural Gas 95

4.3.3 Gas ]to ]Liquid Conversions 98

5 Exports and Emergence of Global Trade 103

5.1 North American Natural Gas System 105

5.2 Eurasian Networks 109

5.3 Evolution of Lng Shipments 118

6 Diversification of Sources 129

6.1 Shale Gas 132

6.1.1 American Shale Gas Extraction 135

6.1.2 Shales outside the United States 140

6.2 CBM and Tight Gas 142

6.2.1 Tight Gas 144

6.3 Methane Hydrates 146

7 Natural Gas in Energy Transitions 151

7.1 Fuel Substitutions and Decarbonization of Energy Supply 155

7.2 Methane in Transportation 161

7.2.1 LNG 162

7.2.2 CNG 166

7.3 Natural Gas and the Environment 168

7.3.1 Methane Emissions from Gas Industry 169

7.3.2 Methane from Shale Gas 175

7.3.3 Water Use and Contamination 180

8 The Best Fuel for the Twenty ]First Century? 189

8.1 How Far Will Gas Go? 192

8.2 Shale Gas Prospects 199

8.3 Global LNG 208

8.4 Uncertain Futures 214

References 221

Index 245

See More


Vaclav Smil receives 2015 OPEC Award for Research

"In Natural Gas, Smil provides much valuable background on the relative amounts of carbon emissions produced by all of our major energy sources. He explains why natural gas is the best of the fossil fuels in terms of energy output relative to carbon emissions (while noting that leaks of natural gas – methane – could in fact outweigh the savings in carbon emissions)." (Resilience, April 2016)

See More
Back to Top