Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Oct 1, 2020 in TellMeWhy |

Why Is Mercaptan Added to Natural Gas?

Why Is Mercaptan Added to Natural Gas?

Why Is Mercaptan Added to Natural Gas? Natural gas in its native state is colorless and almost odorless. In order to assist consumers in detecting leaks, an odorizer, tert-Butylthiol (t-butyl mercaptan), is added.

Sometimes a related compound, thiophane, may be used in the mixture to give it a distinct and unpleasant odor to help detect leaks in natural gas pipelines.

Mercaptan is a harmless chemical that smells like rotten eggs added to the gas to give it a smell, so that leaks can be noticed. Gas leaks must be mended quickly because they can cause explosions.

Situations in which an odorant that is added to natural gas can be detected by analytical instrumentation, but cannot be properly detected by an observer with a normal sense of smell, have occurred in the natural gas industry. This is caused by odor masking, when one odorant overpowers the sensation of another. As of 2011, the industry is conducting research on the causes of odor masking.

Natural Gas is methane mixed with other gases. It is used as a fuel for generating electricity and heating homes, shops and factories, and is found under ground or under the sea bed. Holes are drilled in the Earth, up to several kilometers deep, to obtain natural gas. Gas wells under the sea bed are drilled from floating rigs.

Natural gas is not used in its pure form; it is processed and converted into cleaner fuel for consumption. Many by-products are extracted while processing of natural gas like propane, ethane, butane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen etc, which can be further used. Natural gas in compressed form is used as fuel for vehicles which is known as CNG. It is used as fuel for boilers and air conditioners worldwide. This is used for making fertilizers also, mainly ammonia.

Millions of kilometers of pipes carry natural gas from the rigs to homes and factories. Gas can be compressed into a liquid for storage. Natural gas is used in many parts of the world. It can also be made from coal or oil.

Natural gas is sometimes informally referred to simply as “gas”, especially when it is being compared to other energy sources, such as oil or coal. However, it is not to be confused with gasoline, which is often shortened in colloquial usage to “gas”, especially in North America.

Content for this question contributed by Carrie March, resident of Concord, Contra Costa County, California, USA