1- Where does the word “Gas” come from?


a)      Paracelsus (alchemist who lived between 1493 and 1541) managed to produce hydrogen, which is an inflammable gas, by pouring acids upon metals. He called this gas “wild spirit”


b)      Jan Batiste Van Helmont (Belgian chemist, 1577 -1644) obtained another inflammable gas with the distillation of different organic materials and called it “gist”, which means spirit (in English ghost). From gist came the word “gas”.


Helmont’s gas was a mixture of gases with an important proportion of methane.


2- City Gas or Manufactured Gas


In the 17 th   century, Robert Boyle (Ireland,  1627-1691) got inflammable gas by distilling coal.


In the 18th century, Philippe Lebon, or le Bon, (France 1767-1804) obtained inflammable gas with the distillation of wood. He wanted to use this gas to light a gas lamp he had invented with the purpose of illuminating streets, but this was only possible when Frederick Albert Winsor (Germany 1763-1830) improved Lebon’s method with coal distillation and the first street in London, Pall Mall, was lit.

This gas was not a natural gas, since it was manufactured, and for most of the 19th century, it was used almost exclusively as a source of light. It was difficult to transport the gas very far without a pipeline infrastructure, therefore it was produced near the big cities and it was called City Gas.


Near the end of the 19th century, with the rise of electricity, gas lights were converted to electric lights. This led producers of gas to look for new uses for their product.


In 1885, Robert Bunsen invented what is now known as the Bunsen burner. He managed to create a device that mixed natural gas with air in the right proportions, creating a flame that could be safely used for cooking and heating. The invention of the Bunsen burner opened up new opportunities for the use of natural gas. The invention of temperature-regulating thermostatic devices allowed for better use of the heating potential of natural gas, allowing the temperature of the flame to be adjusted and monitored, therefore it began to be used for cooking and heating. A suitable network of pipelines was then needed and an infrastructure had to be created.


3- The Natural Gas


The first country to use natural gas in a normal way was the United States of America, which in the 1920's made a significant effort  to build a pipeline infrastructure to take the natural gas from the oil drills. Up to then, that gas was burnt outside the wells or sent to the atmosphere.


4-The city gas in Spain


Spain's interest in natural gas as a source of energy began in the first half of the 19th century, when in 1826 the chemistry professor Josep Roura (Spain 1787-1860) became the first one in Europe to succeed in producing a gas light with gas from coal, and lit the first building: “La Llotja” in Barcelona. Immediately after that, the Royal Palace in Madrid and some of the city streets were lit with gas lamps


  Key Dates of gas lighting in Spain


1826 Llotja (Barcelona)
1832 Royal Palace and some streets in Madrid
1842 Barcelona city

1844 Valencia city
1846 Cadiz city
1846 Fábrica Indústria Malagueña (Málaga)
1847 Bilbao city
1847 Madrid city

5- The arrival of Natural Gas in Spain


Shortage of raw materials during the Spanish Civil War exacerbated later because of the outbreak of World War II, which made it difficult the gas production in Spain. Therefore, there began the investigation of new sources of gas in the early 1960s, and in 1963 the production of gas based on naphtha, rather than coal began. But the most important event in connection with gas was the discovery of vast natural gas fields, including  the ones on the coast near Algeria.

The first shipments of natural gas for treatment in a purpose-built re-gasification plant in Barcelona, arrived in Spain via methane tankers in 1969.

Over the next decades, a national network construction went on. A fleet of methane tankers was also built, and later the Spanish companies became some of the world leading transporters of natural gas. Limited supply (as Spain had no natural gas fields of its own) meant that the use of natural gas was slow to spread in Spain, though.

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