gaseous substances capable of burning. In a broad sense hydrogen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and gaseous hydrocarbons (for instance, methane, ethane, and ethylene) are all gas fuels. In technology, however, the term “gas fuels” is usually understood to refer to the natural and artificial mixtures of these gases diluted with noncombustible gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, inert gases, and water vapor. Industrially, the most important of the gases are the natural gas fuels extracted from the depths of the earth, which contain up to 99 percent gaseous hydrocarbons, chiefly methane and its closest homologues. Natural gas fuels are extracted from gas deposits or together with petroleum.
Artificial gas fuel mixtures are obtained as a result of the thermal decomposition of solid and liquid fuel. The most common are coke gas, a product derived from coking solid fuel; generator gas, formed during fuel gasification; petroleum refining gases, which are obtained during the thermal and thermocatalytic refining of oil and oil products; and blast-furnace gas, which is formed during the smelting of iron. In contrast to natural gases, artificial gas fuels are made up of unsaturated hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and sometimes a considerable amount of hydrogen. Gas fuels are also obtained in small quantities by the underground coal gasification method.
The development of the gas industry in the USSR and a number of other countries is based on natural gas fuels, of which the USSR has the largest reserves in the world. In the total output of the principal types of fuel in the USSR, 17.9 percent are natural gases (1968). The production of artificial gas fuels has not increased because of the low efficiency of refining solid fuels. Natural gas, a convenient and inexpensive type of fuel, is being used more widely in many different industries and in the public utility area. The use of natural gas permits substantial simplifications in many important production processes.
REFERENCESRiabtsev, N. I. Prirodnye i iskusstvennye gazy, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Staskevich, N. L. Spravochnoe rukovodstvo po gazosnabzheniiu. Leningrad, 1960.
N. I. RIABTSEV