In 1993 Pennico Oil & Gas Company set up a rig and drilled for Natural Gas. The event went on for 24 hours a day and at least two weeks. When it was all said and done, the result was free gas and a monthly royalty check. Free well gas is a double edged sword. On the positive side I was able to rip out the old 1954 era furnace and install a two zone HVAC system in the farm house, running natural gas. One 80% efficient system is in the attic and the other 95% efficient system in the cellar. It has never been so warm when you consider the old furnace was about 25-30% efficient and the exterior walls of the house have zero insulation. Well consider the farm house was built in the 1830's. They did not have insulation back then. In fact the exterior walls of the farm house are 3 rows of brick with a concoction of sawn lathe covered with a plaster calcined from chalk, with lime, clay and horse hair. Not much for insulation. So the new system is a triple plus. I also replaced the water heater, stove and added a small space heater to our greenhouse. In 2005, I built the Little Metal Shop inside the barn, heated by gas. I have never tried to figure out what the cost would be to run everything on natural gas, however it must be staggering.
On the not so positive side, the gas is somewhat "Dirty". In my adventures with natural gas, I have learned more than I wanted to know about the funny smelling stuff. "Dirty Gas" refers to raw natural gas, which is composed of several gases. The main component is methane. Other components include ethane, propane, butane, and many other combustible hydrocarbons. Raw natural gas also contains oil and water vapor, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium.
Before Pennico can pump the "Raw Gas" into there connector line, they have to "clean it up". To what degree they "clean it up", I will never know. However from the above picture they have a separator, brine tank, a dryer and some filters. There is also a large green holding tank, out of the picture, which holds a nasty liquid that smells like oil/petroleum. So there is some filtering being done. They also have a small device that injects mercaptan into the gas. This is what gives natural gas a distinctive odor that warns you of a leak.
If you are using your free well gas or even house gas purchased from your local natural gas company to fuel a car, you can perform the poor mans gas test. Take a pan of cold water and set it on a cold stove burner. Turn on the burner and wait 30 seconds, then remove the pan. If there is condensation on the burner dispersion plate, you have water issues. If you plan on using a natural gas compressor and fueling an alternative fuels car, you will need to clean up the gas on your own.
My cleanup effort addressed only condensed water, oil and water vapor. The first line of defence was to install a Coalescing Filter. I used a Van Air filter model F200-0100-1-B-MD-PD6. This will take care of particulate matter, oil vapor and condensed water. The next line of defence was a Deliquescent Natural Gas Dryer. This will take care of the water vapor.