Technology development

LNG provides a realistic option to help stabilize and balance intermittency and as an alternative to other fuels. To enable the widespread application of LNG to energy generation and the transport sector, new technology has to eb developed and practical issues have to be overcome. On an engine level, these relate to engine performance and the combustion process itself. If the natural gas is not fully consumed in the engine, part of it will end up in the atmosphere (so-called methane slip), and methane is known to be a much worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Some of the key research issues relate to the cryogenic conditions to store and handle LNG. When storing LNG in a bunker or loading a truck or ship with LNG at -162°C, how accurate are the flow or volume measurements, and how accurate and representative can the composition, required to assess its energy content, be determined? What are the physical properties of the liquid? What is the effect on the materials used? Do pipelines get brittle by their prolonged exposure to cryogenic conditions? Do the instruments give sensible results? Do they operate at all? For the massive volumes used when storing or transporting LNG, even the smallest measurement uncertainty may represent hundreds of thousands of euros. Money which of you do not know whether it is in your truck, ship or bunker, or not.

Laboratory research on the above issues has been done worldwide and is ongoing. Models have been developed representing LNG measurements at cryogenic conditions in terms of e.g. water measurements. However, what is lacking so far are real-life field data at a scale representative of practical operation, in cryogenic conditions. The uncharted territory of larger-scale measurements at cryogenic conditions and safety regulations related to LNG has resulted in experimental research not being allowed to be carried out where LNG is available and vice versa. With one exception.