LNG- is it the fuel of the future?

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Nowadays the role of Liquefied Natural Gas in international trade is steadily rising. Let’s find out about the fuel, which has a great chance to enter a global market and stay there for longer.

LNG- Liquefied Natural Gas- natural gas, converted to liquid form in order to facilitate transport and storage in areas beyond the reach of traditional gas networks. It is a colorless,  odorless and non-toxic compound. Its octane number is 130.

The condensation process is conducted in liquefaction terminals, where natural gas is cooled to the boiling point of methane- -162ᵒC. As a result its volume is reduced of more than 600 times the normal size.
Moreover, liquefied natural gas is subjected to a purification operation from carbon dioxide, nitrogen and heavier hydrocarbons.
The next step is pumping LNG from large cryogenic tanks into methane carriers, which will deliver the fuel to recipients all over the world.
Having reached the regasification terminal, LNG is transported into large tanks, where it is heated until it transforms to the gaseous state. Now it’s convenient to inject it in the gas pipeline network.

Advantages

Transport
After compression LNG takes up to 600 times less space than in its gaseous state, which makes it feasible to transport over long distances. The distribution is based on using methane carriers, cisterns and rail.

Ecology
Liquefied Natural Gas consists of 95% of methane with a small fraction of other components, so the fuel is very clean. Its purity results from compression process when water, carbon dioxide and liquid hydrocarbons are removed. It emits almost 50% less CO2 during the combustion process in comparison with hard coal or lignite. What is more, it produces three times less contaminants than diesel oil.

Energetic safety
Nowadays it’s crucial for countries, which don’t have its own natural resources to ensure constant energy supplies. Thanks to LNG it’s possible to become an independent importer with variety of offers from gas producers all over the world.

Non-corrosive
Installations which use LNG are more durable than traditional.

Safety
LNG is non-toxic substance. It evaporates and disperses in the atmosphere when exposed to air. It does not contaminate water or soil but spreads like natural gas. Transport and storage issues meets the highest safety standards.

Drawbacks

  • Capital intensity
    Investments related to the construction of import and export terminals require big financial resources, because such projects need using highest quality materials, what is very expensive.
  • Complicated technological process
  • The necessity of employing highly qualified staff

LNG applications

  • Heating purposes
  • Power generation in gas powered plants
  • Fuel for car engines, propelling ships and locomotives
  • Refinery and petrochemical industry

World

Nowadays there are about 100 import terminals in the world. The leader in LNG import is Asia, where the biggest regasification terminals are located. Japan has the highest number of such constructions- over 30, whereas South Korea is the owner of largest plant for processing liquefied gas, it’s called Incheon. The main exporter is Qatar. In 2011 it sold 74 million ton of natural gas. The second place goes to Malaysia (24 million ton export).
It is predicted that in the nearest future the global market will be enriched with new countries- USA, which plans to condensate shale gas, and Australia, which now has 3 export terminals but is building 3 new in order to increase its potential.
Main transport routes go through the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. Shipment from Alaska is directed to Japan across the Pacific Ocean.

Europe

Three biggest importers in Europe are France, Great Britain and Spain, which bring LNG from numerous producers, e.g. France has 11 suppliers.
Central and Eastern Europe is now out of international trade because in this region for decades governments have been focused on developing pipeline network. As a result required infrastructure does not exist there. But lately some new investments has been started, e.g. in Poland- a new LNG Terminal in Świnoujście is being built.

Conclusion

The growing importance of LNG in recent years is associated with a general increase in demand for natural gas. It is ecological and efficient fuel, so there’s a big chance of success in the future.

 

Sources: www.cryogas.pl,  www.lng.edu.pl
Photos: www.mighty-ships.com

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