About Natural Gas
Several characteristics of natural gas make it very safe. Unlike other hydrocarbon fuels, natural gas is lighter than air, allowing it to quickly dissipate into the air should a leak occur. Propane and other hydrocarbon fuels are heavier than air and will “settle” in low areas if a leak occurs.
Additionally, Natural gas has a much higher ignition temperature than other hydrocarbon fuels, igniting at 1,200°F, compared to ignition temperatures as low as 700°F for other fuels.
In order for natural gas to ignite, there must be a limited concentration of natural gas mixed with air. The explosive range for natural gas in air is 4 to 14%. That is, there must be a mixture of 4 to 14% natural gas mixed with air before ignition will take place. If there is more than 14% natural gas mixed with air, ignition will not take place because the mixture is “too rich” or contains more fuel than needed.
In its native form, natural gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Huntsville Utilities injects a very detectable odor into the natural gas before it enters the local pipeline system. This odorant has a smell resembling the smell of rotten eggs which is maintained so the smell is detectable well before the gas reaches the flammability range.