Everyday you use gas to run your vehicles, heat your homes, and power your appliances. Recent advancements in technology, based on past knowledge, has probably had an affect on how this gas has been transported from its source around the world to your home. Today nearly 31% of natural gas is transported by a process known as LNG. The process of LNG is almost like magic, but what exactly is LNG and how is it used?
Past, Present, and Future of LNG
LNG is a form of methane gas that has been chilled to about -260 Fahrenheit. It is non-toxic, odorless, colorless, non-corrosive, and non-flammable. The idea behind this transportation method occurred in 1915 when Godfrey Cabot patented a method of storing liquid gasses at very low temperatures. Then in 1937, Lee Twomey patented the process of large-scale liquefaction of gas. These two innovations laid the ground work for today’s commercialization of converting natural gas into liquid natural gas. Godfrey’s cold storing method and Twomey’s re-liquefaction methods were adapted and changed to suit modern need and energy demands. The first shipments of LNG were shipped in 1964, and since then their popularity has grown substantially. Today, the LNG transportation method currently accounts for 31% of all natural gas consumed around the world. LNG is often used because at such a low temperature the gas is compressed to nearly six-hundred times its original volume. This allows more gas to be transported in less space and less time. Even though you are saving time and space in transportation and production, the cost of the required infrastructure is rather high. Each of these LNG transportation tankers cost $200 million dollars. Currently only thirty-three countries have re-gasification (or LNG) terminals that cost over $1 billion dollars a piece. This cost has deterred some places such as South America from entering the LNG market. However, this is only seen as a temporary problem in the market, and natural gas transportation and usage of LNG is expected to grow substantially over the next several years. Experts in the industry suggest that natural gas will be the dominant energy source by the year 2035. They believe that natural gas will become cheaper the more infrastructure becomes available. Already, places such as Qatar, Oman, Australia, Nigeria, Indonesia, and the US have had an increase of use and demand for natural gas. In January of 2016 fifteen new terminals went into use, of which eight are located in China. These new terminals are set to increase global import capacity by 73 million tons a year by 2019. An added benefit of LNG is it also considerably better for the environment compared to its oil and fossil fuel completion. With better technology and growing LNG infrastructure around the world, there’s no telling how large of a role LNG will play in our future energy market.