gas, fuel, gaseous substance that burns in air and releases enough heat to be useful as a fuel, while also remaining sufficiently stable at ordinary temperatures to permit long-term storage without deterioration or undue hazard. It is advantageous if a fuel gas is readily transportable through pipes and is easily liquefied. Practically all fuel gases meet the first condition, and some meet the second as well. Natural gas, which occurs alone and in conjunction with petroleum deposits, is an excellent fuel gas in wide commercial use. Liquefied petroleum gas is a manufactured mixture of flammable gases that is easily stored in its liquefied condition. Oil gas is a type of gas made by applying heat to various petroleum distillates. Its principal use is as a supplement to natural gas during periods of heavy demand. Coal gas may be any of a variety of gases produced by heating coal in the absence of air and driving off the volatile constituents. It is not as high in fuel value as other gases and often contains tars, light oils, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. Producer gas is made by forcing a mixture of air and steam through burning coal or coke. Water gas, or blue gas, which burns with a bright blue flame, is made by passing steam over glowing coke.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.