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Types of gases

The world of gas can be a dense jungle of abbreviations and chemical formulas that is easy to get lost in. There are just so many types of gases to know. Some are similar, but all have slightly different origins, properties and applications. Unless you are a gas wizard, it is sometimes enough to leave your head spinning.

That is why we have made an overview that shows you what each gas consists of and how it can be used. Below, you can learn more about the different types of gases, and at the very bottom of this page, you find a poster with all of them on. 

If you want a physical reminder, you can download and print the poster - and hang it on the wall of your office, break room, bedroom, bathroom or wherever else you want to be reminded of the difference between CNG, SNG, and all the other common fuel gases.

LPG molecule

LPG - Liquefied Petroleum Gas

LPG is perhaps the most well-known and widely applied fuel gas there is. In some parts of the world, it is mainly used for barbecuing in the summer, while elsewhere it is a life-saving and necessary component of businesses and homes alike. It consists of a mix of propane and butane and is a by-product of oil refining.

Advantages
Clean, low emissions, readily available, and easy to store and transport at moderate pressure.

Applications
Cooking, heating/cooling, automotive (autogas), power production, weed burning, drying,  aerosol propellant, and much more.

Bio-propane - LPG from renewable sources

Chemically identical to conventional LPG and compatible with all normal LPG equipment and installations. Where bio-propane, or bio-LPG, differs is that it is created entirely from renewable and sustainable biomass, making bio-propane an even more environment-friendly fuel. 

Advantages
Clean, easy to store and transport, and even better for the environment than LPG.

Applications
Cooking, heating/cooling, automotive (autogas), power production, weed burning, drying, aerosol propellant, and much more.

BIO-propane molecule
Natural gas molecule

Natural gas - gas extracted from the earth

When plant and animal matter decomposes under the Earth's surface in high heat and pressure, it eventually becomes what we call natural gas. Composed primarily of methane, it is widely used across the world for a multitude of purposes, and it is what you will find flowing through national gas grids.

Advantages
Clean burning, low emissions, cheaper than oil.

Applications
Cooking, power generation, heating/cooling, drying, many other industrial uses.

Biogas - natural gas from biomass

Dead organic material digested slowly by bacteria in an oxygen-free environment produces biogas - a sustainable, clean-burning and CO2-neutral fuel that is also cheaper than oil. Since it originates from organic matter that is already part of the CO2 cycle, it is considered one of the more climate-friendly fuel sources. 

Advantages
Clean burning, CO2 neutral, cheaper than oil.

Applications
Cooking, power generation, heating/cooling, drying, many other industrial uses.

Biogas molecule
CNG molecule

CNG - Compressed Natural Gas

Stored at 200-220 bar in a cylinder or tank, Compressed Natural Gas has less than 1 percent of the volume that Natural Gas occupies at normal atmospheric pressure. You'll typically find it in public transportation, such as busses, where it contributes to reducing harmful emissions.

Advantages
Easy to transport, although less so than LPG.

Applications
Most commonly used for Automotive purposes such as city busses.

LNG - Liquefied Natural Gas

Keep it cool - that's the motto of LNG. With a temperature of -162 degrees Celsius (-260 Fahrenheit), LNG only takes up 1/600 of the original volume of natural gas, making it easier to transport large quantities of energy. It's an ideal fuel for clean, green shipping, automotive, and much more.

Advantages
Easily transportable, though requires cooling and insulated storage vessels.

Applications
Ship fuel, automotive, heating/cooling, drying.

LNG molecule
SNG molecule

SNG - Synthetic Natural Gas

In peak hours, your utility company is likely to charge you more for the natural gas you use. Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) allows you to avoid these extra costs by offering an alternative source of energy during this time - a little trick known as "peak-shaving". SNG is most often derived from coal or dry biomass.

Advantages
Useful as a backup for natural gas and for peak shaving*.

Applications
Cooking, power gene­­ration, heating/cooling, drying, many other industrial uses.

* Peak shaving is the cost-reducing measure of purchasing less energy from one’s utility company during hours when the demand (and price) is at its highest.

Hydrogen - emits only water when burned

Refine natural gas or electrolyse water, and you get pure hydrogen. It is not the cheapest fuel gas to produce, but it burns as cleanly as you can imagine, leaving only water vapour in the air. Hydrogen flames are invisible to the naked eye, which is why caution is paramount when working with this gas.

Advantages
Clean burning, no harmful emissions.

Applications
Motor fuel, power production, spacecraft.

Hydrogen molecule

Download poster: Know your fuel gases

The next time you need some basic facts about fuel gases, just turn your head and look at your wall. This poster presents all the fuel gas fundamentals - it's perfect for refreshing your own knowledge or explaining fuel gases to others.

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All information on this page, as well as the above poster, was originally published in an August 2018 newsletter for KC ProSupply, the trading division of MAKEEN Energy.