Cruising Into a Future with LNG

liquified natural gas
Image source: Travel Weekly

In mid-April, I attended GasTech 2017 in Tokyo. The focus of GasTech was Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and its impact on the world’s energy balance, carbon emissions, and technology. Now, I didn’t take a cruise ship all of the way from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Japan, but there are some interesting overlaps between LNG and cruising.

Why Liquefied Natural Gas

First, we need to understand LNG and its growing market share.

LNG is an odorless, colorless and non-corrosive natural gas that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport. It takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state (cruise ship stewards likely wish human luggage could take up 1/600th the volume too!).

The liquefaction process involves removal of certain components, such as dust, acid gases, water and heavy hydrocarbons. The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure by cooling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F); maximum transport pressure is set at around 25 kPa (4 psi).

LNG is principally used for transporting natural gas to markets, where it is regasified and distributed as pipeline natural gas. LNG is expected to hit 10% of the global crude production by 2020.

Yet LNG is also being used to power ships worldwide. There are 100 LNG-outfitted ships today with another 72 LNG-ready and another 100 in manufacturing. This growth reflects a demand for energy efficiency and new international rules on sulfur content of fuel.

Smooth Sailing for LNG Ships

The primary use for LNG ships today is car and passenger ferries. Cargo ships rank second, and now the cruise industry is getting into the action with 11 ships already on order. According to Travel Weekly, Lloyd’s Register predicts “there will be 653 LNG-powered ships of all types built between 2012 and 2025, including 25 cruise ships.”
Soon you’ll be able to cruise to the islands with more efficiency. Talk about a win-win proposition! Although a trip to Tokyo would be worth taking, even without the cruise experience – I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the trip in a future blog (along with some photos).

In the meantime, GasTech was a great learning opportunity. I enjoyed discussions of LNG technology, gas transmissions and pipelines, infrastructure to use LNG as well as operator training. Check out the website, http://www.gastechnews.com/. The conference, once again, showed how the world is tied together for energy and environmental issues. Let me know your ideas and LNG questions.

A Focus on Scaling Up

“Scaling up” may have new meaning this summer if you’ve seen the blockbuster Jurassic World. Those scientists can’t keep their hands off the dino DNA and engineer one big, bad and nasty scaled-up dinosaur.

Scaling Up process
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY-SA

Yet when we focused on scaling up process in our latest BHS e-newsletter, A&SoF, we were talking about process scale-up for specialty chemicals and bioenergy.

Our own “Process Scale-Up from Demonstration Batch Filtration to Commercial Continuous Filtration” details a process filtration approach developed for each technology stage-gate and emphasizes how to avoid the cookie cutter approach.

Whether at lab, pilot, demonstration, or commercial scale it’s important to train yourself to be a better decision maker. Using checklists, formulas and structured procedures are your best bet.

We engineers are under stress during the scaling up process (as our families at home might attest), yet it’s important to take the time to think about all of the process issues before moving to the next stage. Give your team time to reflect (as Holmes and Watson often did) to insure the premises are sound (process definition, requirements, and testing objectives), you’ve understood the critical process parameters, and to end up with the optimum process filtration solution.

In the newsletter, we also share David Edward’s CEP article about the stage-gate method in bioenergy as he explains differences between traditional chemical process and bioenergy project scale-ups. After all, another good habit of a process engineer is to be well-informed.

Want to learn more about filtration principles? Join one of BHS’ upcoming Lunch & Learn Filtration Seminars or let me know you’re coming to one of my upcoming Presentations. See you there.