Fuel gas

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Blue flame of fuel gas burners

Fuel gas is any one of a number of fuels that under ordinary conditions are gaseous. Many fuel gases are composed of hydrocarbons (such as methane or propane), hydrogen, carbon monoxide, or mixtures thereof. Such gases are sources of potential heat energy or light energy that can be readily transmitted and distributed through pipes from the point of origin directly to the place of consumption.


Fuel gas is contrasted with liquid fuels and from solid fuels, though some fuel gases are liquefied for storage or transport. While their gaseous nature has advantages, avoiding the difficulty of transporting solid fuel and the dangers of spillage inherent in liquid fuels, it also has limitation. It is possible for a fuel gas to be undetected and collect in certain areas, leading to the risk of a gas explosion. For this reason, odorizers are added to most fuel gases so that they may be detected by a distinct smell.

The most common type of fuel gas in current use is natural gas.


19th-century style gas lights in New Orleans Chartres Gaslights NOLA.JPG
19th-century style gas lights in New Orleans

There are two broad classes of fuel gases, based not on their chemical composition, but their source and the way they are produced: those found naturally, and those manufactured from other materials.

Manufactured fuel gas

Manufactured fuel gases are those produced through an artificial process, usually gasification, at a location known as a gasworks.

Manufactured fuel gases include:

Well or mine extracted fuel gases

In the 20th century, natural gas, composed primarily of methane, became the dominant source of fuel gas, as instead of having to be manufactured in various processes, it could be extracted from deposits in the earth. Natural gas may be combined with hydrogen to form a mixture known as HCNG.

Additional fuel gases can result as a process of refining natural gas or petroleum:


Fuel gases have been used in numerous applications. One of the earliest was gas lighting, which enabled the widespread adoption of streetlamps and the illumination of buildings in towns with a municipal gas supply. Fuel gas is also used in gas burners, in particular the Bunsen burner used in laboratory settings. It may also be used gas heaters, camping stoves, and even to power vehicles, they have high calorific value.

Related Research Articles

Hydrocarbon Organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon

In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons are examples of group 14 hydrides. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups called hydrocarbyls. Hydrocarbons are generally colourless and hydrophobic with only weak odours. Because of their diverse molecular structures, it is difficult to generalize further. Most anthropogenic emissions of hydrocarbons are from the burning of fossil fuels including fuel production and combustion. Natural sources of hydrocarbons such as ethylene, isoprene, and monoterpenes come from the emissions of vegetation.

Natural gas Fossil fuel

Natural gas, is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium. It is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of chemical bonds in the gas. Natural gas is a fossil fuel.

Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula C3H8. It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel in domestic and industrial applications and in low-emissions public transportation. Discovered in 1857 by the French chemist Marcellin Berthelot, it became commercially available in the US by 1911. Propane is one of a group of liquefied petroleum gases (LP gases). The others include butane, propylene, butadiene, butylene, isobutylene, and mixtures thereof. Propane has a lower energy density but burns more cleanly than gasoline and coal.

Liquefied petroleum gas

Liquefied petroleum gas, is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles. It is a mixture of 48% propane, 50% butane, and 2% pentane.

Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made from coal and supplied to the user via a piped distribution system. It is produced when coal is heated strongly in the absence of air. Town gas is a more general term referring to manufactured gaseous fuels produced for sale to consumers and municipalities.

Alternative fuel

Alternative fuels, known as non-conventional and advanced fuels, are any materials or substances that can be used as fuels, other than conventional fuels like; fossil fuels, as well as nuclear materials such as uranium and thorium, as well as artificial radioisotope fuels that are made in nuclear reactors.

Liquid fuel

Liquid fuels are combustible or energy-generating molecules that can be harnessed to create mechanical energy, usually producing kinetic energy; they also must take the shape of their container. It is the fumes of liquid fuels that are flammable instead of the fluid. Most liquid fuels in widespread use are derived from fossil fuels; however, there are several types, such as hydrogen fuel, ethanol, and biodiesel, which are also categorized as a liquid fuel. Many liquid fuels play a primary role in transportation and the economy.

Cryogenic fuels are fuels that require storage at extremely low temperatures in order to maintain them in a liquid state. These fuels are used in machinery that operates in space because ordinary fuel cannot be used there due to the very low temperatures often encountered in space, and due to absence of an environment that supports combustion. Cryogenic fuels most often constitute liquefied gases such as liquid hydrogen.

The Fischer–Tropsch process is a collection of chemical reactions that converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. These reactions occur in the presence of metal catalysts, typically at temperatures of 150–300 °C (302–572 °F) and pressures of one to several tens of atmospheres. The process was first developed by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, in 1925.

The methanol economy is a suggested future economy in which methanol and dimethyl ether replace fossil fuels as a means of energy storage, ground transportation fuel, and raw material for synthetic hydrocarbons and their products. It offers an alternative to the proposed hydrogen economy or ethanol economy.

The oil and gas industry is usually divided into three major sectors: upstream, midstream, and downstream. The downstream sector is the refining of petroleum crude oil and the processing and purifying of raw natural gas, as well as the marketing and distribution of products derived from crude oil and natural gas. The downstream sector reaches consumers through products such as gasoline or petrol, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel oil, heating oil, fuel oils, lubricants, waxes, asphalt, natural gas, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as hundreds of petrochemicals.

Gas to liquids

Gas to liquids (GTL) is a refinery process to convert natural gas or other gaseous hydrocarbons into longer-chain hydrocarbons, such as gasoline or diesel fuel. Methane-rich gases are converted into liquid synthetic fuels. Two general strategies exist: (i) direct partial combustion of methane to methanol and (ii) Fischer–Tropsch-like processes that convert carbon monoxide and hydrogen into hydrocarbons. Strategy ii is followed by diverse methods to convert the hydrogen-carbon monoxide mixtures to liquids. Direct partial combustion has been demonstrated in nature but not replicated commercially. Technologies reliant on partial combustion have been commercialized mainly in regions where natural gas is inexpensive.

Industrial gas Gaseous materials produced for use in industry

Industrial gases are the gaseous materials that are manufactured for use in industry. The principal gases provided are nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, hydrogen, helium and acetylene, although many other gases and mixtures are also available in gas cylinders. The industry producing these gases is also known as industrial gas, which is seen as also encompassing the supply of equipment and technology to produce and use the gases. Their production is a part of the wider chemical Industry.

Ammonia is one of the most highly produced inorganic chemicals. There are numerous large-scale ammonia production plants worldwide, producing a total of 144 million tonnes of nitrogen in 2016. China produced 31.9% of the worldwide production, followed by Russia with 8.7%, India with 7.5%, and the United States with 7.1%. 80% or more of the ammonia produced is used for fertilizing agricultural crops. Ammonia is also used for the production of plastics, fibers, explosives, nitric acid and intermediates for dyes and pharmaceuticals.

Bivalent (engine)

A bivalent engine is an engine that can use two different types of fuel. Examples are petroleum/CNG and petroleum/LPG engines, which are widely available in the European passenger vehicle aftermarket.

Natural-gas processing

Natural-gas processing is a range of industrial processes designed to purify raw natural gas by removing impurities, contaminants and higher molecular mass hydrocarbons to produce what is known as pipeline quality dry natural gas.

Methane saturated hydrocarbon with formula CH4

Methane ( or ) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4 (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane, and is the main constituent of natural gas. The relative abundance of methane on Earth makes it an economically attractive fuel, although capturing and storing it poses technical challenges due to its gaseous state under normal conditions for temperature and pressure.

The Glossary of fuel cell terms lists the definitions of many terms used within the fuel cell industry. The terms in this fuel cell glossary may be used by fuel cell industry associations, in education material and fuel cell codes and standards to name but a few.

Fuel Material that stores energy later extracted by use of oxidizer, catalyst, or tool, but which is not conserved

A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as heat energy or to be used for work. The concept was originally applied solely to those materials capable of releasing chemical energy but has since also been applied to other sources of heat energy such as nuclear energy.

Steam cracking

Steam cracking is a petrochemical process in which saturated hydrocarbons are broken down into smaller, often unsaturated, hydrocarbons. It is the principal industrial method for producing the lighter alkenes, including ethene and propene. Steam cracker units are facilities in which a feedstock such as naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), ethane, propane or butane is thermally cracked through the use of steam in steam cracking furnaces to produce lighter hydrocarbons. The propane dehydrogenation process may be accomplished through different commercial technologies. The main differences between each of them concerns the catalyst employed, design of the reactor and strategies to achieve higher conversion rates.