By burning the natural gas which acts as its fuel, a natural gas power plant generates electricity. A gas turbine causes natural gas with a stream of air to combust and expand, prompting the generator to spin a magnet and create electricity.
Natural gas power plants are classified into two types: 1) Simple cycle gas plants and 2) Combined cycle gas plants.
In simple cycle gas plants, hot gas is launched through the turbine. In combined cycle gas plants, a combination of the former type and a second steam engine which uses the Rankine cycle is necessary.
What are the benefits of natural gas power plants?
1. Natural gas plants are cheap to build.
Due to lower land requirements as well as faster and cheaper construction, natural gas power plants are regarded as the most inexpensive to build compared to other thermal power technologies.
A record of estimates for capital costs of different fuel types was published by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) in April 2013. These are indicative costs for plants in the US – determining factors that would show which plant is the cheapest to build. In doing so, overnight capital costs must be tracked and employed as a useful measure in figuring out the current cost of putting up a plant.
Source: Market Realist
This data shows that natural gas plants require the least amount of money at the time. Yet, this is not only for 2013 to 2015. Research also suggests that this remains true until today. Aside from being cheap to build, it is fastly engineered as well.
2. Natural gas plants have high thermodynamic efficiencies.
Energy efficiency is defined as the ratio of output energy to input energy. In thermodynamics, efficiency indicates if the energy is converted well into useful work. Through it, the relative magnitude of energy losses is identified so the system’s behavior, in this case, the plant’s behavior is understood properly. In its analysis, it considers the quantity of energy.
Electricity generated by coal operates at only 32% efficiency rate, as per National Fuel. However, natural gas has a 92% efficiency rate.
Energy education explains, “The hot gases from the initial gas turbine are sent to the steam engine, and the heat from them is used to generate steam. This steam can then expand through another turbine, generating even more electricity and increasing the plant’s overall efficiency.”
In order to control the fuel supplied to a gas turbine, there is a need for appropriate valves. Manufacturers and service providers like XHVAL valve can forge valves and adapt them into the specific requirements of the client.
3. Burning of natural gas gives off fewer pollutants than coal and oil.
Natural gas is said to be the cleanest fossil fuel. We all know that fossil fuels generate emissions that affect our surroundings upon getting burned. But burning them is essential in energy production and consumption.
Natural gas discharges comprise two elements: carbon dioxide and steam. Newer and more operative plants exude 50 to 60 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional coal plants and not more than 30 percent of what oil gives off, as they burn natural gas. Reduced amount of sulfur and oxygen compounds, as well as nitrogen oxide, are also what natural gas releases, much less when compared to oil.
American Gas Association (AGA) states that approximately less than 90,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per billion British thermal units (Btu) is expelled by natural gas than that of coal.
4. Air quality improves after switching from coal plants to natural gas plants.
China is the world’s largest consumer of coal. It has been planning and building more than 300 coal plants not just in their own place but in other countries like Turkey, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt, and the Philippines. This is despite the smog that hovers in the whereabouts of the location of the plants.
President Xi Jinping recently hosted a discussion in Beijing as he promoted the foreign policy he is known for, that is, to build infrastructures and trade links among the continents. In this event, Xi repeatedly professed the slogan he has committed himself to – open, clean and green development (according to National Public Radio).
Then, the next thing we knew, the Huaneng Beijing thermal power station now burns natural gas, which is overall considered as a cleaner fossil fuel. Witnesses and neighbors have shared that the air became much cleaner and much better for the health.
The contents of natural gas are just less hazardous than those of coal and oil.
5. Natural gas is a low-cost source for generating hydrogen.
According to an article about hydrogen production, the steam reforming of methane or natural gas produces ‘bulk’ hydrogen. Currently, natural gas is the cheapest source of hydrogen.
Why is hydrogen important and what is it used for?
Various industries are in need of hydrogen gas. Manufacturers use it in order to produce and process food, chemicals, electronics, and many others. Did you know that hydrogen results in water when burned? That is why it is the cleanest and safest fuel that can be used in cars, machines and other mechanical products.
Petroleum products also utilize hydrogen gas in breaking down crude oil into gasoline, fuel oil, etc. In creating ammonia which is used in making fertilizers, hydrogen is a paramount component. The atoms of hydrogen are also present in all acids and bases.
Hydrogen can be used in a myriad of ways for an infinite number of purposes, and it can be obtained from natural gas.
Easy, fast and cheap to build – that is the natural gas power plant. It is less hazardous and it can create and lead to other useful chemicals that help people in their daily lives. In addition to that, we become in control of managing our environment and taking care of mother earth.