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Natural Gas, a Non-renewable Resource


In 1860, Etienne Lenoir of France developed and built an engine of a design practical for natural gas that ran on illuminating coal gas stored in a rubber bladder. Coal gas is made up largely of methane, the primary component of natural gas, and hydrogen. In 1862 Lenoir built a vehicle powered by one of his engines.

Initially, natural gas, or methane, was an undesirable bi-product of oil well drilling, exploration, and crude pumping. Thus, it was simply burned off as a waste product. Near the turn of the century it was used introduced as a fuel for home and public facility heating and lighting. Natural gas now accounts for approximately one-forth of the energy consumed in the United States. For many years it has been used reliably and efficiently in stationary internal combustion engines, supplying energy for commercial and industrial processes, home heating, and electricity generation. Many households use CNG for cooking and heating.

As with petroleum fuel oil, there is a finite supply of natural gas. It is, therefore not considered to be a renewable energy source. Natural gas currently used in the United States primarily comes from domestic sources. At current levels of consumption, reserves are expected to last 120 years.