This Week’s Subject: Natural Gas Odorant

Question: Joe, how do utility companies add odorant to natural gas?

Answer: Natural gas is odorless in its natural state, but it’s artificially odorized by an organic sulfur compound called mercaptan. Gas companies add mercaptan to the natural gas to give it a distinct, identifiable odor for customer recognition. This minimizes risks to public safety and complies with federal regulatory requirements.

A distribution line must be odorized so that at a concentration in air of 1/5 of the lower explosive limit (LEL), the gas is readily detectable by a person with a normal sense of smell. This is the equivalent of 1% gas in air or 20% LEL. Each operator must conduct periodic sampling with an air dilution instrument that can determine the percentage of gas in air at which the odor becomes readily detectable.

Tip: Odorant is the customer’s leak detector. It provides the public with an effective warning device about a possible gas leak problem. When you smell gas in or around your home, call the gas company to come out and investigate. Safety must never be overlooked!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s