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.

Travel, Present and Learn. Join me.

I was in Singapore in October for the Gastech Singapore 2015 for a very interesting week learning about many things, including LNG engineering.

Celebrating 50 years as an independent nation, Singapore has been ranked the number one country for “ease of doing business” for the past nine years by the World Bank. Singapore is very cosmopolitan; you can see different types of people living harmoniously and easily interacting with each other. My trip included some wonderful sights such as the “Gardens by the Bay” and the Arts & Science Museum’s “Welcoming Hand.” I appreciated these both as engineering marvels considering environmental / sustainable objectives. And, yes, I also appreciated the excellent food with a diversity of choices including Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Italian, Peranakan, Spanish, French, Thai and, of course, the ever-present “fusion” which can mean whatever you like.

LNG engineering
The Garden at the Bay showcases energy efficient, sustainable building technologies .Photo credit: Craig Stanfill / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Gastech Conference Benefits

The cosmopolitan diversity of Singapore was also evident at the Gas-tech conference. There were exhibitors and attendees from around the world including the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Norway, and the US. In fact, the Black & Veatch booth was streaming live the World Series baseball match-up of the KC Royals and the NY Mets. Unfortunately, my beloved Mets did not win.

Technical conference sessions focused on gas processing, LNG engineering (as well as processing, floating, ships, facilities and infrastructure), natural gas vehicles, and offshore technologies. I learned LNG is about to enter a period of unprecedented growth with significant volumes of new supply about to enter the market. The estimated investment is over $2.5 trillion through 2025. Currently, there are over 400 LNG ships worldwide. The initial exports from the US should be in 2106 from the Sabine Pass facility in the Gulf Coast.

I presented in the Center of Technical Excellence (CoTES) a paper titled, Perlmutter Presentation at GasTech Singapore 2015 (pdf) The session was attended well, and I enjoyed fielding some interesting questions and comments. I was particularly proud to see this presentation was the only filtration one at Gastech — that’s a nice accomplishment for BHS.

LNG engineering
Singapore’s “Welcoming Hand” incorporates solar panels and recycles rainwater.
Photo credit: Leonid Yaitskiy / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Why International Conferences Matter

Did I have fun? Yes. Did I learn? Yes. Did I expand my professional network? Yes. I can only continue to encourage all of my clients, friends, and colleagues to travel to international conferences such as Gastech to experience both the cultural and technical benefits of joining the worldwide process engineer community.

If you are planning to travel or submit to conferences, let me know your how I can help! Perhaps we can meet up at an international destination to discuss our shared interests, this blog and more!