What is LNG?
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is processed natural gas that has been condensed into a liquid form by reducing its temperature to approximately minus 260°F (minus 162°C) at ambient pressure. This process is known as liquefaction.
LNG takes up about 1/600th of the volume of natural gas in its vapor state, thus LNG can be more readily and economically stored and transported. Specially insulated and refrigerated tanks are used to store and transport LNG. As a liquid, natural gas becomes more comparable in energy content to other liquid fuels; for example, the energy in 1.68 gallons of LNG is equal to about 1 gallon of diesel. As a fuel, LNG is very versatile, can be used in just about any way diesel is used: for drilling rigs, mine haul trucks, boilers, dryers, power generation, marine fuel, locomotives, and over-the-road trucks.
To be used, LNG must be warmed so that it transitions back to natural gas in its gaseous form – this warming and vaporization process is called regasification. The vaporized natural gas is then injected back into a pipeline system or used to fuel natural gas operated equipment.
Is LNG Safe?
LNG is very safe to transport, and the industry’s safety record is exemplary. For over 50 years, LNG has been safely transported around the world.
LNG is an odorless, non-toxic, non-corrosive liquid and leaves no residue after it evaporates. LNG will not ignite until it becomes a vapor, and even then, the vapor will not ignite until it mixes with air and becomes extremely diluted (5-15% vaporized gas-to-air ratio). Below 5%, there is too little gas in the air to burn; above 15%, there is not enough oxygen.
What if there is an LNG release?
LNG is safely transported because every precaution is taken to mitigate the possibility of a release. If there were a release, vaporizing LNG released on land or in the ocean, would quickly evaporate. There is no possibility for land or water contamination. LNG is non-toxic and it does not chemically react unless ignited.
What are the risks working around LNG?
Cryogenic burns are the primary risk. Any exposed skin that comes in contact with LNG will get a cryogenic burn. LNG is a liquid at -260 F; however, even as the liquid warms and becomes a vapor it is still very cold, -100 F to -200 F. All equipment, instruments and piping that comes in contact with LNG will be extremely cold. Moist skin coming in contact with cold metal parts will freeze instantly and could adhere to other materials. Personal protective equipment should always be worn, consisting of cryogenic gloves, fire resistant long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and a face shield to protect the head from splashing liquid.
LNG Awareness Links