What types of gas do pipelines transport?

Pipelines safely transport natural gas from processing plants to markets in Canada and around the world. As the world addresses climate change, natural gas will be an important part of the solution – as a cleaner-burning fuel, and as a primary source of hydrogen, which is rapidly emerging as an alternative to traditional non-renewable energy sources. Natural gas and hydrogen can help lower global greenhouse gas emissions when they are used to displace higher-emitting fuels for power generation.

Natural gas

Canada is the fourth largest producer and sixth largest exporter of natural gas. We have enough natural gas reserves to meet national energy demands for 300 years.

Natural gas is one of Canada’s cleanest and most abundant natural resources. It is formed over millions of years when layers of decomposing plants and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure deep below the earth’s surface.

Natural gas is odourless, colourless and non-toxic, making it an extremely versatile source of energy for heating, cooking and electricity generation. About one third of Canada’s energy needs are currently met by natural gas.

Liquified natural gas (LNG)

Liquified natural gas (LNG) is made when natural gas is compressed and cooled to -162 degrees Celsius. This allows for the natural gas to be transported on ships to international markets. LNG is also transported by tanker truck in Canada to fuel heavy drilling and mining machinery, gas-fired power stations and ferries and ships. It is also used as a heating fuel in some rural communities.

Hydrogen

With abundant natural gas reserves, Canada is one of the top 10 hydrogen producers in the world. 

Hydrogen is the first element on the periodic table as it is the simplest and lightest element on earth – approximately 14 times lighter than air. It can be made by reacting natural gas with high-temperature steam. It can also be made from water and electricity, biomass and as a by-product from industrial processes.

Hydrogen is invisible, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic and emission-free when burned. This makes it an attractive alternative source of energy. It can be used to fuel vehicles including buses, trucks, trains and ships. It can generate power and heat for personal and industrial use.

As Canada works toward a goal of zero emissions by 2050, hydrogen is an attractive alternative fuel. The federal government has laid out an ambitious hydrogen strategy to position Canada as a global, industrial leader of clean renewable fuels.

Pipelines are the safest way to transport large quantities of hydrogen across long distances – to domestic markets and for export to global markets. Hydrogen can be blended with natural gas and is already being transported that way in existing pipeline systems. New technologies are being developed to scale up the capacity to support the growing demand for hydrogen in Canada and around the world.

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