Liquefied natural gas — LNG for short — is natural gas (methane) in liquid form. The LNG we produce is shipped all over the world, turned back into natural gas (called regasification) and then transported via pipeline to homes and businesses and used as an energy source that is essential for heating, cooking on stoves and other industrial uses.
Natural gas is a cleaner-burning, abundant and affordable source of energy. When LNG is converted back to natural gas, it can be used instead of coal, which reduces the amount of pollution traditionally produced from burning fossil fuels, like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter that enters the air we breathe. And compared to coal, it produces significantly fewer carbon emissions.
To liquefy natural gas, we cool it to -260°F (-162.2°C), which incidentally is about as cold as it gets on the moon. Now that’s cold!
Transporting LNG to the world
On land, natural gas is transported through pipelines. However, to transport natural gas overseas to countries that don’t have readily available access to cleaner, abundant and affordable energy sources, pipeline transport from the U.S. isn’t feasible. This is where liquefying natural gas comes in. By liquefying natural gas, we reduce its volume by 600 times. To give you some perspective, that’s like taking 600 one-gallon jugs of natural gas and liquefying it so that you’re left with just a single one-gallon jug of liquefied natural gas.
After liquefying the natural gas, we load it onto special LNG carriers designed to keep the LNG cold and in liquid form for efficient transport overseas. Once it arrives at facilities overseas, the LNG is converted back into its gas state so that it can be piped into homes and businesses.
The liquefaction process
So now you know why we liquefy natural gas. But how
do we do it? Basically, it involves technology similar to your home’s refrigerator or air conditioner, only on a much larger and complex scale.
- Natural gas arrives at the terminal via pipeline at a temperature of about 70°F.
- At the liquefaction production unit — called a train — the natural gas is treated to remove any contaminants.
- Now begins the cooling phase, where numerous turbine engines, compressors, and more than 200 large cooling fans are employed to pull refrigerants throughout the entire liquefaction process.
- During the first cooling phase, the clean gas is cooled by a propane refrigerant to less than 0°F.
- The cold gas is then sent to the second cooling phase where it is cooled even more with an ethylene refrigerant.
- The gas is further cooled in the third phase of the cooling process before it is cooled one last time to reach -260°F. Now in liquid form, the LNG is moved into insulated storage tanks big enough to fit a cargo plane! At this point, we have our LNG.
- Finally, the LNG is transferred from the tank to the LNG carrier to be transported to its ultimate destination.
Safety and security
The safety of our employees, members of the community and the environment are our top priority, and because of this, we focus on safety in everything we do, every step of the way, every single day.
Cheniere uses many different security measures for its LNG facilities. Examples include security patrols, protective enclosures, lighting, monitoring equipment and alternative power sources. We also engage regularly with various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI to ensure that our facilities receive ongoing security updates and alerts and are up to speed with the latest security developments.