In the one hundred and thirty years, or so that we have known natural gas as a fuel source in the United States, the demand for natural gas has grown at an astounding rate. There is virtually no area of North America that doesn’t have natural gas provided as an energy source. The methods of producing, transporting, measuring, and delivering this valuable resource have advanced, and improved in direct relation to the demand for a clean burning and efficient fuel. While today’s economic climate determines the rate of growth the gas industry enjoys, in a broad sense, natural gas is certainly considered essential and a fuel of the future.
Of primary importance, in the process of delivering gas for both industrial and public use, is providing for the safety of those who use it. Whether in the home, or workplace, the safety of all who use or live around natural gas systems is of primary concern. Natural gas is a combustible hydrocarbon and its presence may under certain conditions be difficult to determine. One need only to remember the tragic explosion of the school building in New London, Texas in the 1930’s to understand the potential for injury when natural gas accidentally ignites. Because of this possibility for accidents, regulations have required the odorization of natural gas when it comes in contact with the population. This enables people living and working around natural gas to detect leaks in concentrations well below the combustible level of the natural gas.
This intent of this paper is to provide basic information regarding the process of odorizing natural gas, which includes characteristics of chemical odorants, typical methods of injecting odorant into natural gas pipelines, and detecting odorant in natural gas. I have sought and used information on areas within this paper dealing with chemical odorants and odorant testing equipment from colleagues whom I consider experts in these fields. You will find them referenced and I urge you to use these references to obtain more information on these critical areas which are so important to the odorization process.