Natural gas – essential for Australian manufacturing

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16 April 21, 1:43pm As the 2021 APPEA Environment and Safety Excellence Awards take place in June we are looking back on winners and no… https://t.co/mi3JWR9v1T
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by APPEALtd
14 April 21, 9:43am In a major boost for the Northern Territory’s economy and environment, regarded environmental scientist Cassandra S… https://t.co/94cM4HhLT3
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by APPEALtd
8 April 21, 1:48pm The Australian Government's release of a suite of measures aimed at enhancing and strengthening Australia’s offshor… https://t.co/Ih8azMhLlb
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by APPEALtd
6 April 21, 10:35am APPEA’s submission to the Federal Government’s gas-fired recovery consultation shows how the oil and gas industry c… https://t.co/c8MTb4fRIN
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by APPEALtd

Natural gas is both a source of energy and an essential raw material for manufacturing.

Almost one-third of the gas consumed in Australia is used by manufacturers.

Manufacturing in Australia is a $100 billion industry directly employing 890,000 people.

About 225,000 people work in manufacturing sectors that rely heavily on gas; another 500,000 people work in related industries that do business with these manufacturers.

The main industrial uses of natural gas and gas-derived products are producing:

  • non-ferrous metals (e.g. aluminium, copper, zinc, tin)
  • chemicals and polymers (e.g. fertilisers, antifreeze)
  • non-metallic mineral products (e.g. glass, ceramics, cement, bricks)
  • plastic packaging for foods and beverages.

Gas is also needed in food preparation and processing, fermentation and brewing.

gas-use-in-manufacturing-by-sector_landscape

 

Gas — powering industrial processes

Gas is second only to oil as an energy source for manufacturing.

Gas is essential to fire kilns and furnaces for many industrial processes.

Without gas, it would be impossible to make everyday products such as glass, bricks, paper, cement, steel and alumina.

Many businesses meet their energy needs from their own gas-fired turbines.

Steel is galvanised with hot molten zinc to create a non-corrosive layer.

Victoria-based GB Galvanising uses 50,000 gigajoules (GJ) of gas every year.

No alternative fuel can maintain the necessary high temperatures.

Alumina refineries use gas for power generation and for refining bauxite to produce alumina, which is used to produce aluminium.

Alumina refining requires temperatures greater than 1100°C.

Gas is the only fuel that can achieve this temperature.

Alcoa uses 95,000 terajoules (TJ) of gas each year in its three alumina refineries in Western Australia.

Gas — the invisible ingredient of everyday products

Natural gas is also a raw material (feedstock) for creating many products.

It is used to produce fertilisers, explosives, paper, plastics and chemicals.

In most cases, there is no substitute for gas as a feedstock.

Gas is used to produce ammonia, which is an important feedstock for several industries.

The most commonly used fertiliser in the world is urea, which is produced from ammonia.

Australian industries use 1.6 million tonnes of urea each year.

Producing each tonne of urea requires 21GJ of natural gas — the same amount of gas that the average NSW household uses in a year.

Ammonia is also used to make explosives and cleaning products, and is used in fermentation, brewing and winemaking.

Plastics are made from ethane, which is derived from natural gas.

At 850°C, steam is added to ethane to break it into ethylene.

This is then used to make plastics.

These plastics are used in:

  • food packaging and wrapping;
  • plumbing and guttering;
  • fibres and textiles;
  • machine parts; and
  • many other applications.

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