The right design for gas transportation is essential for many industries today. As gases are more and more present in a number of processes, achieving efficiency in transporting gas has become a priority that translates into economic returns and increased safety.
What are the most common gases used today? How are they moved along, besides using transporting tanks? And what are the most important security measures to be undertaken by any gas transportation company? Keep reading to find out.
Gas transportation: the most common ones
Gas transportation is an important process for the use and exploitation of technical gases, which are an essential part of a wide range of industries, from the health sector to the food or construction industries, to name just a few.
The following are some of the most important gases used today, some of which are turned into cryogenic liquid gases (cooled to liquid form) in order to achieve efficiency in transporting gas:
- Natural gas and LNG:
One of the most important energy sources today on a global scale, natural gas transportation is crucial, as its resources are limited and scattered across the globe. Its transportation presents a number of challenges, namely the need for long and complex pipeline transportation systems.
The use of Liquefied natural gas can generate a more efficient solution, especially when natural gas on its natural state would require transportation over long distances or under the sea.
As an alternative, LNG weighs less and presents a smaller volume (one cubic meter of LNG turns into 600 cubic meters of natural gas), and LNG transportation allows for the use of transporting tanks at sea.
Because of its important advantages, demand for LNG has grown over the past years and is expected to continue growing: U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas continued to grow in the first six months of 2021, at an average that marks a 42% increase compared with the same period in 2020.
- Nitrogen and LIN:
Nitrogen’s refrigerant properties and its inert presence have made it one of the most common technical gases, and it’s used in fertilizers, food conservation processes, pharmaceutical products, manufacturing or construction involving steel, among others.
Its cryogenic counterpart, LIN, is slightly lighter than air at room temperature and its uses include freezing and transporting food, cryopreservation of biological samples, refrigeration for superconductors, and cryotherapy treatments for skin.
- Oxygen and LOX
Oxygen is sought after because of its reactivity properties, as this gas combines with most other common gases and other elements. For instance, it helps chemically accelerate combustion and oxidation, while it’s also useful to kill bacteria or carry out wastewater treatments, among many other uses.
Sometimes preferred for gas transportation, liquid oxygen (LOX) is extremely cold and has a high oxidising power, although it is not flammable.
- Argon and LAR
Argon is a noble gas, colourless, odourless and inert to other substances. It provides an atmosphere that prevents welded metals from rusting and its main uses include health care treatments, lighting and the food industry, among others.
Again, liquefied Argon can become a solution for a safe and efficient gas transportation.
- Hydrogen and LH2
Hydrogen is another of the common gases used in the industry, and it serves a multitude of purposes: it assists in the steel welding process; it’s key to industries such as the food and electronics sectors; and it’s required for the production of methanol and ammonia, two common chemicals employed across many industries. LH2 allows for a more concentrated storage and transportation.
- Helium and LHe
Helium is a non toxic inert gas. When Helium is in this liquid state, it’s known as a “superfluid” and is essential to manufacture MRI scanners, as well as a highly-valued product as a coolant in laboratories, and for the production of fiber optics.
Different ways of transporting gas
The most effective way for transporting gas will depend on a number of factors, including the distance it must travel and the type of area that will be crossed. The following are the most common methods for gas transportation:
Tanks are storage facilities that are easily installed into various modes of transportation, maritime transportation being the most common one. They are the preferred method for LNG transportation, as they present economic advantages for long distance trips.
Distribution pipelines are the most usual method to transport natural gas, among others. While they are a safe method for the transportation of this gas, the complex strategic planning and investments needed for their installation (especially for long gas transportation or in underwater systems are needed) often generate the need for strong economical value in order to justify them.
When it comes to the transportation of liquefied cryogenic gases, high-vacuum pipes are the right solution.
These systems are necessary to power long-distance natural gas pipelines. Their role is to compress gases by increasing their temperature, producing the necessary energy to move them.
Valves are installed on gas pipelines in order to control the flow of gas along their length, so that it can be managed in different scenarios, such as maintenance issues.
Barges and tugboats
These are the main gas transportation methods to be used on rivers and canals as well as drilling spots located in areas further from the shore. However, they are less convenient in other environments, as they are more costly than pipelines and their efficiency is limited in terms of volume of transportation and time.
Safety advices for gas transportation
- Gas containers must be protected against all types of incandescent sources.
- Mechanical aggressions must be avoided during gas transportation.
- Personal protection: staff must carry adequate and reglementary clothing, while some gases will require respiratory protection.
- Containers must be correctly labelled for their storage and transportation.
- If transporting tanks are used for maritime, road or railroad transportation, they must be correctly fixed in order to avoid any damage and possible safety issues.
- Correct maintenance programs must be designed in order to guarantee that all systems involved in gas transportation, including gas tanker trucks, are able to perfom their role safely.
At Cryospain, we design and implement high-vacuum pipes for the transport of cryogenic gases and help generating maintenance programs for gas tanker trucks and other cryogenic installations, with the goal of offering our expertise in cryogenic engineering to our clients, adapting our solutions to the needs of each client.