Natural Gas Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that gathers in cracks and pores of certain rocks deep underground. Learn how natural gas forms, how it's extracted and why it's useful.

What is Natural Gas?

Do you like to watch cooking shows? If you do, you might have noticed that some stoves use coiled burners that glow red hot, and others use open flames.

The glowing flames of a natural gas stove
Natural Gas Flame

The open flame stoves use natural gas, which is a flammable gas that can be pumped from the ground and used as fuel. In this lesson, you'll learn how natural gas gets from the ground to the kitchen.

How is Natural Gas Formed?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, just like oil and coal. Millions of years ago, plants and animals died and got buried under layers of dirt and rocks, also known as sediment. Over time, the layers of sediment got thicker, which put the decaying remains under a lot of heat and pressure. This heat and pressure turned the remains into the fossil fuels we use today.

Natural gas can be found in cracks of certain rocks, like this rock called shale

As natural gas was forming, it seeped into cracks and pores of certain rocks, like shale and sandstone. The gas stays trapped in these tiny spaces until natural gas companies find it.

How Do We Extract Natural Gas?

Natural gas is odorless and colorless and buried deep under the ground, so how do we find it? Finding natural gas requires a lot of science and some luck. Geologists look for rocks that are capable of holding natural gas. When they find a promising spot, they drill down into the rock to see if natural gas is present.

When a natural gas field is located, a drilling team digs a well to get the gas out of the ground. Advanced technologies are helping drill teams do their job. One technique is called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves forcing water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break apart the rocks that hold natural gas. This is a fairly easy term to recall if you remember that the prefix hydraulic refers to water and fracturing means breaking, so hydraulic fracturing is the breaking apart of rocks using water. Once the rocks are broken, the gas is released and can be pumped to the surface where it's transported, long distances usually through a series of pipes, called a pipeline.

A natural gas pipeline
natural gas pipeline

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