Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG, is natural gas cooled to a liquid. By freezing natural gas to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, it shrinks to around 1/600th of its original size. That’s even smaller than compressed natural gas!
Before it can be cooled, the gas must be processed to remove everything but methane. Other materials like water, carbon dioxide, and liquids like propane and butane risk freezing or damaging equipment.
It’s important to note that liquid natural gas and natural gas liquids are not the same thing: natural gas liquids are hydrocarbons like propane and butane that naturally occur within natural gas when it is extracted from the ground. Liquid natural gas, on the other hand, is processed natural gas made entirely of methane that has been condensed into a liquid.
LNG has such a small volume that it is efficient to transport and store, but requires specially insulated trucks and ships. Even though it is denser than natural gas, LNG is still lighter than water as a liquid.
LNG can be reheated to a gas and reintroduced to pipelines for all the uses of typical natural gas: heating, cooling, cooking, and power generation. It can also be used as a fuel, since it is dense and clean burning like CNG, or compressed natural gas.
Thanks to LNG, the United States is not only closer to becoming energy independent, but is leading the world in natural gas exports.
Because of LNG’s very condense size, it is ideal for transport to areas where pipelines are not economically or geographically possible, especially overseas. In 2017, U.S. natural gas exports quadrupled, arriving in destinations across the globe like Mexico, South Korea, and China. While export capacities grew thanks to two LNG ports – Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Cove Point in Maryland – the will continue to grow as four more projects come online within the next two years.
LNG is helping to pave the way to making the United States an energy powerhouse.