Small-Scale Mobile LNG Technology: Monetize the Remote Natural Gas Resources in a Sustainable Way

Significance 

Most natural gas fields are located far away from densely populated areas where the demand is high. As such, a good and efficient transportation method is required. Generally, pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are the two main transportation methods to deliver the natural gas from the reservoirs to the customers, with the latter being preferred for longer distances. However, it becomes uneconomical and difficult to centralize natural gas into a large-scale LNG plant, when the remote gas reservoirs are too far away. As a result, movable small-scale LNG plants can be applied. For such mobile small-scale plants, single mixed refrigerant liquefaction process (SMR) is applicable but has several inherent drawbacks that ought to be resolved. For instance, a comparison between the SMR and nitrogen expansion liquefaction process on the perspectives of specific energy consumption, exergy efficiency, techno-economic and flexibility is yet to be done. So far, selection of the most appropriate process for the small-scale mobile LNG plant is still a big challenge due to the lack of comprehensive comparison of the involved processes.

Recently, in an international collaboration led by Professor Tianbiao He from China University of Petroleum (East China) together with Dr. Zuming Liu (National University of Singapore), Prof. Yonglin Ju (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), Dr. Ashak Mahmud Parvez (University of New Brunswick), presented a study in which they offered some criterions on selecting liquefaction process for small-scale mobile LNG plant. In particular, they engaged in a comprehensive optimization and comparison study of the modified single mixed refrigerant (MSMR) and parallel nitrogen expansion liquefaction process (PNEC) for the small-scale mobile LNG plant. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Energy.

To begin with, the optimization study by using the specific energy consumption as the objective function was carried out in order to obtain the optimal design parameters for MSMR and PNEC. Next, the exergy efficiency of the two processes based on their optimal design parameters was compared. Afterward, the flexibility of the two processes with several different feed gas conditions was investigated at the optimal design parameters. Lastly, the economic analysis of the two processes was conducted by considering the capital cost and the operating cost in the life-cycle.

The authors reported that the minimum specific energy consumption of MSMR and PNEC were 0.411 kWh/kg and 0.618 kWh/kg, respectively. Then, the exergy efficiency comparison demonstrated that the exergy efficiency of MSMR reached 49.96%, while that of PNEC was only 33.19%. Cost comparisons revealed that the total investment of MSMR was 26.88% lower than that of PNEC, which indicated that MSMR had a better techno-economic performance than PNEC.

In summary, the study by Professor Tianbiao He and colleagues presented a comprehensive optimization and comparison of the MSMR and PNEC. The researchers were able to show quantitative comparison results rather than qualitative comparison from the perspectives of specific energy consumption, exergy efficiency, techno-economic and flexibility perspectives. Altogether, MSMR was reported to be a better choice for small-scale mobile LNG plant based on the four perspectives. Small-scale mobile LNG technology can utilize the remote natural gas resources in a sustainable way, and provide the gas supply safety as a peak-shaving plant in cities.

Small-Scale Mobile LNG Technology: Monetize the Remote Natural Gas Resources in a Sustainable Way - Advances in Engineering

About the author

Since 2017, Dr Ashak Mahmud Parvez has been working as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at University of New Brunswick, Canada. Ashak Mahmud’s areas of specialty and research interests include biomass gasification, process optimization, biochar utilization and techno-economic assessment of biofuel process. Ashak Mahmud has 10 years of global experiences in research at worldwide recognized institutions and research centres, including South Korea, China, Singapore, Germany, Belgium and Canada; with the specialization in Chemical, Energy and Process Engineering. Ashak Mahmud completed his PhD degree from The University of Nottingham, UK.

About the author

Dr. Tianbiao He is Associate Professor in the Department of Gas Engineering, College of Pipeline and Civil Engineering at China University of Petroleum (East China) since 2018. He received his B.Eng. degree in Thermal and Power Engineering from East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) in 2011. Then he received his Ph.D. in Refrigeration and Cryogenics Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) in 2017. After graduation, he became a Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS), working on clathrate gas hydrate-based desalination and LNG cold energy utilization. In 2018, he received the Outstanding Young Scholar Award from China University of Petroleum (East China).

His research interests now include small-scale LNG technology, gas hydrate-based desalination, LNG cold energy utilization processes, and process modeling, optimization and integration in chemical and cryogenics engineering. Now he is leading several research projects centering on small-scale LNG technology and LNG cold energy utilization for sustainable purpose. Up to now, he is an inventor on 7 Chinese patents and has published 18 peer-reviewed research papers and with the citations of 269 in Google Scholar.

ORCID:0000-0002-5973-9964, Google Scholar 

About the author

Prof. Yonglin Ju, received his B.S. and M.S. degree, both from Xi’an Jiao Tong University in 1992 and 1995, respectively, and PhD degree from Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1998. He then worked at Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands from 1998 to 2000, at Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences from 2000 to 2002 and at Columbia University from 2002 to 2005.

Prof. Ju has served as a Full Professor at School of Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University since Oct. 2005. He is also severed as Guest Professor at Institute of Nuclear, Particle, Astronomy and Cosmology (INPAC), Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Guest Professor at Harbin Institute of Technology. Prof. Ju has completed more than 40 research projects, and published over 200 peer-reviewed academic papers and is the owner of 40 patents in fields of cryogenic engineering and LNG.

Prof. Ju has received numerous awards and honors, including Academic Invention Award in 1998 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Technological Invention Award in 1999 by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, Carl von Linde Prize in 2003 by the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR), Shanghai Pu Jiang Program in 2006 by the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai, New Century Outstanding Young Professors in 2007 by the Ministry of Education of China, Qian Jiang Distinguished Professor in 2012 by Zhejiang Province. Prof. Ju also severed as Director of LNG Engineering Center of SJTU-ENN, Director of Hydrogen Research Center of SJTU-Pujiang Gas, Director of Commission A1 of Shanghai Society of Refrigeration, Committee member of Chinese Association of Refrigeration, and Deputy Editor of Frontiers in Energy (since 2012).

About the author

Dr. Zuming Liu is currently a Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the National University of Singapore. He obtained his B.Eng. degree from North China Electric Power University and M.Eng. degree from Tianjin University. He received his Ph.D. degree from National University of Singapore.

His research focuses on process synthesis, energy integration, energy storage technologies, and energy system design, modeling, and optimization. His work has been published in AIChE Journal, Energy, Energy Conversion and Management, Chemical Engineering Science, and Computer & Chemical Engineering.

Reference

Tianbiao He*, Zuming Liu, Yonglin Ju, Ashak Mahmud Parvez. A comprehensive optimization and comparison of modified single mixed refrigerant and parallel nitrogen expansion liquefaction process for small-scale mobile LNG plant. Energy, volume 167 (2019) page 1-12.

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