LNG liquefication

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The liquefaction of natural gas, also known as liquefied natural gas (LNG), is a complex process that allows natural gas to be compressed to a high density and transported in liquid form. This article looks at the basic facts about liquefied natural gas, the various technologies, safety aspects, environmental impact and economic aspects of this process.

Basics of LNG liquefaction

What is LNG?

LNG stands for liquefied natural gas, which is brought to this state at very low temperatures of around -162 degrees Celsius. This liquefaction reduces the volume of the gas by a factor of 600, making transportation and storage much more efficient.

The liquefaction of natural gas has many advantages. Firstly, it enables the transportation of space-saving natural gas over long distances. This means that countries that do not have their own natural gas reserves can import this valuable energy resource and diversify their energy supply.

Another advantage of LNG liquefaction is the possibility of transporting liquefied natural gas to regions that do not have an adequate pipeline network. This opens up new sales markets and contributes to economic development. In addition, LNG can be used as an alternative and environmentally friendly energy source in areas where access to conventional natural gas is limited, such as in isolated areas or on islands.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is one of the most important energy sources in Germany, not only widespread and easily accessible, but also very efficient compared to oil and coal. Currently, most of the LNG in Germany is sourced in northern Germany from Russia, with the first delivery in December 2015. This supply, which is part of the wider Northern Stream project, has enabled German businesses to reduce their energy supply costs. As the liquefaction of gas is up to 600 times smaller than the original gas form, LNG is crucial in supplying businesses and households with cheap and efficient gas.





The LNG liquefaction process:

LNG liquefaction takes place in several steps. First, the natural gas is purified and impurities such as sulphur and hydrocarbons are removed. This is necessary to ensure the quality of the liquefied gas and to prevent corrosion or damage to the systems.

After purification, the natural gas is cooled until it reaches the critical point at which liquefaction begins. This critical point is around -162 degrees Celsius. At this extremely low temperature, the natural gas is converted from a gaseous state to a liquid state. This reduces the volume of the gas by a factor of 600, which makes it easier to store and transport.

The liquefied natural gas is then stored in special tanks that are designed to withstand the extreme temperatures. These tanks consist of double-walled steel containers fitted with a layer of insulation to keep the cold in. The tanks are regularly monitored to ensure that the temperature and pressure inside are kept at an optimal level.

After storage, the liquefied natural gas is prepared for transportation. To do this, it is pumped into special LNG tankers that have been specially developed for the safe transportation of liquefied natural gas. These tankers are equipped with the latest technology to ensure safe and efficient transportation.

LNG is mainly transported by sea, as this is the most cost-effective and efficient method. The LNG tankers are transported to the consumer markets or to LNG terminals, where the liquefied natural gas is converted back into a gaseous state to be fed into the existing gas grid.

LNG liquefaction is a complex process that requires careful planning and monitoring. Safety is the top priority in order to avoid accidents or environmental damage. The LNG industry is continuously working to further develop the processes and technologies to improve the efficiency and safety of LNG liquefaction.

Technologies for LNG liquefaction

Open cycle systems:A common method for LNG liquefaction is the open cycle system. Here, the natural gas is vaporized in a refrigerant in order to cool it. The refrigerant is then cooled again and reused. This system offers efficient liquefaction at low cost.The open cycle system has established itself as a reliable and proven technology in the LNG industry. It enables efficient liquefaction of natural gas and offers a cost-effective solution for LNG production. By using refrigerants such as nitrogen or methane, the natural gas is cooled down to very low temperatures, transforming it into a liquid state.Another advantage of the open cycle system is that the refrigerant can be reused. After the natural gas has been vaporized and liquefied, the refrigerant is cooled and returned to the circuit. This minimizes the consumption of refrigerants and reduces the costs of operating the system.

Natural gas storage in industrial facility
Natural gas storage in industrial facility

Safety aspects of LNG liquefaction

Risks and dangers:

LNG liquefaction involves a number of risks and dangers. First and foremost, there is the risk of leaks or accidents that can lead to a release of the liquefied gas. It is therefore crucial that all safety precautions are taken to avoid such incidents.

Safety measures and regulations:

To ensure safety in LNG liquefaction, strict regulations and safety measures are put in place for the use of LNG in liquefied form. These include, for example, regular inspections of the facilities, training for personnel and effective emergency management. These measures minimize the risk of accidents and ensure safety.

Emissions and climate change:

Liquefied natural gas is associated with certain environmental impacts. The liquefaction and transportation of the gas can release greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It is therefore important to take measures to reduce these emissions and explore alternative, more environmentally friendly technologies.

Water consumption and pollution:

Another problem with LNG liquefaction is the high water consumption. Large amounts of water are needed to cool the gas, which can lead to a strain on local water resources. In addition, the liquefied natural gas can pollute the water in leaking systems. It is therefore important to take appropriate measures to minimize water consumption and protect water quality.

LNG cargo ship
LNG cargo ship

Economic aspects of LNG liquefaction

Costs and investments:

LNG liquefaction requires considerable investment in infrastructure and facilities. The costs of building liquefaction plants and transporting the gas can be very high. Nevertheless, the demand for liquefied natural gas has increased worldwide. The use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is one of the most important energy sources in Germany, not only widespread and easily accessible, but also very efficient compared to oil and coal. Currently, most LNG in Germany is sourced in northern Germany from Russia, with the first delivery in December 2015. This delivery, which is part of the wider Northern Stream project, has enabled German businesses to reduce their energy supply costs. As the liquefaction of gas is up to 600 times smaller than the original form of gas, LNG is crucial in supplying businesses and households with cheap and efficient gas.

Market trends and forecasts:

LNG liquefaction is playing an increasingly important role in the global energy supply. The demand for liquefied natural gas, i.e. cleaner fuel, is increasing due to its low emission values and its many possible uses. Experts predict that the LNG market will continue to grow in the coming years, bringing with it both economic and environmental benefits. In summary, LNG liquefaction is an important process that makes it possible to transport and use natural gas efficiently. By improving technologies and complying with strict safety and environmental standards, LNG liquefaction can become a sustainable and economically viable energy source for the future.

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