A 3-Way Deal To Use Wasted Energy In Natural Gas Distribution
October 26, 2022
Methane, commonly known as “natural gas,” can be sold in a number of different forms. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, in the United States, most natural gas is considered a fossil fuel since it originates from heat and pressure on organic materials over millions of years.
However, renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane, is a type of vehicle fuel that can be transported through pipelines. It comes from purified biogas, which anaerobic digestion of organic waste creates — such as rotting food in landfills or livestock manure — or thermochemical processes like gasification. RNG meets the requirements to be categorized as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Regardless of whether it’s coming from the ground or coming from renewable processes, methane can be stored, moved, and used in two forms: compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).
CNG is produced by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. This is what we typically receive in homes with a natural gas connection, and it can even be used to power vehicles through combustion, like gas or diesel.
LNG is natural gas that has been chilled and turned into liquid form. It goes through a process called liquefaction, during which natural gas is cooled below its boiling point. This removes most of the compounds found in fuel, leaving behind mainly methane with small amounts of other hydrocarbons.
The really cool thing (other than its temperature) about LNG is that it takes up 600 times less space per unit of energy compared to CNG. This allows it to be transported, often by ship, to places that pipelines normally couldn’t reach (such as across oceans).
To transport large volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), carriers use double-hulled ships for both safety and insulation purposes. Once the ship arrives at its destination, LNG is off-loaded into well insulated storage tanks. Later, it is regasified so that it can be transported through a pipeline distribution network.