The discovery of natural gas in the 1950’s and its subsequent utilisation in the early 1970’s heralded a new era for gas in New Zealand.
Most major centres in the North Island are now served by natural gas, with the others, and those in the South Island have access to the more expensive LPG (liquid petroleum gas, which consists mainly of propane) which is also a by-product of natural gas recovery.
Like other fossil fuels, the reserves of gas are finite – they must come to an end at some point, and already there are concerns that the major fields in and around Taranaki are coming to the end of their useful life.
What happens then?
Natural gas goes hand in hand with the oil industry, and for adequate supplies of oil to be recovered, large supplies of natural gas have to be disposed of. Exisitng domestic, commercial and industrial customers do not offer the off take required for efficient oil recovery, so other options, such as the inefficient generation of electricity from gas are required.
The Combustion Process
When gas is burnt, it produces mainly CO2 and water vapour among other by-products. While we recognise that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the health aspects of other by-products, particularly when gas is used in unflued appliances, are now starting to cause concern in the USA.
There are two basic forms of gas appliance – flued or unflued, and with in each category the choice of convector, or radiant convection appliances.
Some are highly sophisticated – some very simple. Outputs of gas appliances are reasonable, but not generally enough to heat a whole home.
A recent development in appliance styling is gas heaters that look like wood fires! They can have all the sophistication and ease of operation that goes with gas, but with the look and efficiency of a real wood fire!
Special care must be taken with portable LPG heaters, to avoid them being tipped over or being placed too close to combustible surfaces, nor should they be operated in a confined space.THERE ARE VERY SPECIFIC regulations regarding unflued heaters, and these must be followed at all times.