Natural gas emissions are emissions which are generated during the production or use of natural gas. Research indicates that natural gas is probably the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel, but it still produces greenhouse gases, and this makes it a topic of concern among environmental advocates. One of the biggest issues with natural gas is that it is used on such a broad scale; natural gas emissions are produced everywhere from kitchen stoves to city buses, and it can be difficult to control them as a result.
There are two different sources of emissions when it comes to natural gas. The first natural gas emissions occur when natural gas is refined. As the gas is purified, byproducts are discarded. Some of these byproducts may simply be burned, which generates emissions, although some companies are working to find active uses for natural gas byproducts to reduce the emissions associated with natural gas. Cleaning up the refinery process is also a concern for other fossil fuels, as a number of byproducts are generated in the course of fossil fuel processing.
The other source of natural gas emissions comes when natural gas is burned for energy. Natural gas produces about half the carbon dioxide that coal does, and its emissions of carbon monoxide, particulates, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide are much lower than those of coal and oil. One of the major natural gas emissions is methane. Increased natural gas utilization can reduce overall production of greenhouse gases, but it will also cause a demonstrable rise in methane, which can be a source of concern.
Advocates for natural gas argue that the cleaner burning nature of this fossil fuel can make it an important tool for reducing overall production of greenhouse gases. Processing natural gas differently can reduce natural gas emissions both during production and use, and developing better systems for trapping emissions could make natural gas emissions even lower. Methane, for example, could be trapped and utilized as a source of energy.
Vehicles which run natural gas are often touted as clean vehicles. Natural gas is especially popular for city buses, which are notorious for belching particulates across their routes as they move through the city. Using natural gas to fuel a bus fleet can cut down on particulates substantially, greatly improving human health and general environmental conditions. The reduction in other greenhouses gases which would occur as a result of fleet conversion is also a topic of interest among climate researchers.