What is liquefied natural gas?
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a composition of methane and a mixture of ethane used to convert natural gas into liquid form for ease and safety of storage transportation. It is cooled to around -256 F so that it can be transported from countries with a large quantity of natural gas to countries that demand more than they produce. In the liquid state, natural gas occupies 1 / 600th of the space, which facilitates its shipment and storage when transport by pipeline is not possible. As global energy consumption increases, experts predict that the LNG trade will grow.
Explanation of liquefied natural gas
Liquefied natural gas is mainly used to transport natural gas from one source to another. Exporters use this method when shipping to different countries and between water bodies when pipelines are not available. There are two main approaches to liquefying natural gas in large quantities: the cascade process and the Linde method. The cascade process refers to the cooling of one gas by another gas, which results in a cascade effect.
Although it has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world, the United States imports a small percentage of its natural gas as liquefied natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt, Norway, from Qatar and Nigeria. The other major LNG exporters are Indonesia, Russia, Yemen and Norway. Russia has the largest supply of natural gas in the world, followed by Iran and Qatar. In 2008, Japan was the world’s largest importer of LNG. The primary mode of transportation is ashore storage tanks to ship tanks.
Once the cargo is delivered, natural gas can expand and convert back to its gaseous form. Regasification terminals are used to help convert temperatures back to a state of natural gas.
Liquefied natural gas is best known as a transportation tool, but it is beginning to be widely adopted. The automotive industry is assessing the usefulness of gas as a fuel for internal combustion engines over trucking, off-road vehicles, ships and railways. China is one of the main proponents of the transport of liquefied natural gas with a fleet of more than 100,000 vehicles.
The future of liquefied natural gas
Global demand has grown rapidly, from nearly zero in 1970 to a significant market share today. Consumption is expected to reach 280 million tonnes in 2020, an increase of 8.8% compared to the previous year. Average annual growth is expected to be 4% until 2020, when demand will reach around 314 million tonnes per year. Shortly thereafter, the market could reach overcapacity, marked by increased supply, pressure on prices and lower volume.