Every day, some fractivist tells the world it can easily do without natural gas, but some open eyes and a dash of common sense reveal just the opposite.
Like other energy sources natural gas plays an important role in various sectors of manufacturing ranging from chemical industry to paper production. Pricewaterhouse Coopers released a report in October of 2012 estimated that by 2025 the Shale gas industry could add 1 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The report also stated that chemical companies stand to benefit from the Shale gas boom lowering production costs of raw materials and energy.
Companies are capitalizing on natural gas to create low-cost chemicals that are used in the production of plastic-based substitutes that would serve as alternatives to more expensive textiles like wood, leather and metals.
The Chemical Industry
Some natural gas has extra hydrocarbons that must be separated before the natural gas can continue to the end source which leaves behind natural gas liquids (NGLs). NGLs are rich in hydrocarbons such as ethane, butane and propane all of which are valuable in the chemical markets.
The hydrocarbons that are prevalent in NGLs are components in a variety of feed stocks used to make pharmaceuticals. Chemicals derived from NGLs can be found in over the counter drugs, prescriptions and even specialized medical gasses.
Fertilizer and Glass Cleaners:
A major component in most fertilizers on the market today is ammonium nitrate. Ammonium is chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen and acts as an important nutritional compound for plants. Natural gas serves as a source of hydrogen for the ammonium nitrate chemical reaction.
Ammonium is also found in many different household cleaners because it is known to create that, “Streak-free shine,” that commercials are always talking about.
Similar to how natural gas is involved in the chemical industry, it also plays a large role in the production of plastics. Natural gas is used to make all types of polymers that are used in the manufacturing of everything from playgrounds to contact lenses.
The following video from Total Refining Chemical breaks down the process by which natural gas is transformed into a chemical that can be used to make plastics for all types of products.
Pretty fascinating, isn’t it? Natural gas is here, there and everywhere, touching our lives in myriad ways.
Editor’s Note: This article originally posted at Well Said Cabot.