Natural gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, with other hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and hydrogen sulfide. Natural gas is an important energy source to provide heating and electricity. It is also used as fuel for vehicles and as a chemical feedstock in the manufacture of plastics and other commercially important organic chemicals.
Natural gas is found in deep underground natural rock formations or associated with other hydrocarbon reservoirs in coal beds and as methane clathrates. Petroleum is also another resource found in proximity to and with natural gas. Most natural gas was created over time by two mechanisms: biogenic and thermogenic. Biogenic gas is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, landfills, and shallow sediments. Deeper in the earth, at greater temperature and pressure, thermogenic gas is created from buried organic material.
Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, it must undergo processing to clean the gas and remove impurities, including water, to meet the specifications of marketable natural gas. The by-products of processing include ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes, and higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide (which may be converted into pure sulfur), carbon dioxide, water vapor, and sometimes helium and nitrogen.
Natural gas is often informally referred to simply as gas, especially when compared to other energy sources such as oil or coal.
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