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How Is Electricity Made from Natural Gas?

gas workers

Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel produced by deposits of methane from within the Earth’s crust. CPS Energy operates 15 gas units to complement its energy generation efforts with coal, nuclear and renewable energy.

Plant operators at the Arthur Von Rosenburg and Rio Nogales plants, both combined cycle plants, use natural gas to power two General Electric 7-FA combustion turbines. Like a jet engine, the turbines suck in air, mix it with the fuel and ignite a fireball. The hot gases from the fireball impact the blades of the turbine to cause motion, creating mechanical energy. The turbine, connected to a generator by a shaft, spins and powers the generator. At this point, the generator converts the mechanical energy into electricity before it is transmitted for customer use.

Creating electricity doesn't stop there. Instead of being wasted, exhaust gases from the combustion engine are carried into a Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG), where cold water is being pumped in through pipes. The engine uses the heat of the exhaust gases or flue gases to convert water into steam.

Once steam is created in the HRSG, it is sent to a steam turbine. The pressurized steam travels over the blades of the turbine and causes it to spin. This motion, mechanical energy, is what powers the generator. The generator makes electricity that is then transferred to customers through a sophisticated distribution network that includes more than 5,000 miles of gas transmission lines and mains. See Energy Delivery