What is natural gas?
Natural gas is a mixture of gases, primarily methane. Consisting mostly of hydrocarbons, it is found in deposits called reservoirs beneath the surface of the Earth. Natural gas is considered the Earth’s cleanest fossil fuel because it produces carbon dioxide, water vapor, and small amounts of nitrogen oxides when it is burned. In its natural state, natural gas is colorless and odorless. It is used commonly in residential, commercial, and industrial applications, such as heating and electricity generation. Although it is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, natural gas development has resulted in the increase of hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), a controversial and environmentally damaging extraction method.
Natural gas consumption in the United States
In 2020, the United States was the leading consumer of natural gas worldwide. Their natural gas consumption has been increasing slightly since 1995, amounting to some 30.3 trillion cubic feet in 2021. That same year, the industrial sector in the United States consumed the second largest proportion of natural gas of all sectors, second to electricity generation. In the U.S. industrial sector, natural gas is used as a fuel for process heating, heat and power systems, and as a raw material to produce chemicals and fertilizer.