At the present moment, regasification as a process is at the heart of many crucial important developments, particularly in the context of the growing emphasis on green and efficient practices in the energy industry.
For instance, regasification plants have become an essential part of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply chain, an industry that has been hailed as a facilitator for the clean energy transition. As the world shifts towards cleaner energy sources, LNG is regarded as a greener alternative to traditional fossil fuels and revolutionizing industries like maritime transport through initiatives such as LNG cruise ships.
In fact, natural gas is experiencing a rise in demand as fuel for domestic and industrial use. As figures by the International Energy Agency point out, the demand for LNG supply capacity between 2018 and 2023 reached over one hundred billion cubic meters, led by Australia and the USA. A trend that is expected to reach new levels in the coming years due to higher demand originating in Asia.
Additionally, in a context where global energy security is at stake, regasification plants contribute to providing access to geographically dispersed sources of natural gas. This makes energy supplies more resilient when faced with geopolitical disruptions.
At the same time, LNG represents a versatile energy source when compared to pipeline gas, as it can be transported and stored more easily. This is precisely where regasification comes in.
But what is regasification, why is it important and what can be done to achieve efficient regasification plants? Keep reading to find out.
What is regasification?
The regasification process involves raising the temperature of a cryogenic gas in order to make it go from a liquid to a gaseous state.
This process is undertaken at regasification plants, designed to convert a variety of liquefied gasses (nitrogen, oxygen, argon, LNG…) at very low temperatures (cryogenic) back into their gaseous state.
The heating process generally exploys heat exchangers, which involve the cold gas passing through pipes or channels and being exposed to a warmer environment, causing it to heat and expand, and thus return to its gaseous state.
This process is directly involved in the capacity to use a number of gasses which have been liquefied in a prior process for advantages in storage and transport. For instance, such is the case of LNG: when in liquid form, this substance’s volume decreases by 600 times, a property that makes it more efficient to transport and store LNG as a liquid. However, regasification is needed in order to LNG to be used as a fuel, as the substance needs to be in a gaseous form.
The important role of the regasification plants
As we’ve mentioned above, regasification plants are essential for various industries that require the use of gasses but store them in liquid form to access benefits in terms of space and transportation efficiency.
Their importance grows when, in addition to gasification, these plants include other processes such as gas purification and pressure and temperature control, adapting to the specific needs of each substance.
The following are some of the reasons why regasification plants represent a fundamental piece in the wider puzzle of the industrial gasses market:
- Transport and storage efficiency: regasification plants allow for converting liquids back into gasses at the point of use, guaranteeing they can be employed even if transported and stored as liquids. In the case of LNG, it allows for the transportation over large distances, when pipelines are not available.
- Increased security: regasification plants are designed with high security standards in order to safely deal with these substances and thus reducing potential risks related to high pressure, low temperatures or combustion.
- Guaranteed availability: many industrial or medical applications depend on the reliable and fast availability of high-quality gasses such as oxygen, nitrogen or argon, all of which can be guaranteed thanks to regasification. At the same time, these plants are key to adjusting supply to specific demand, reaching high levels of precision.
Here we describe the general procedure for the regasification of LNG:
Natural gas must first be extracted and transported from production sites to regasification facilities. Once liquified, it’s transported on maritime vessels, although both road and railway options exist. The transportation takes place in cryogenic types, designed to maintain optimal temperatures of around -162 °C to maintain its liquid state.
The LNG carrier vessel is moored at the docks and unloading takes place from the ship’s tanks to the facilitie’s storage tanks. This involves a pumping system, transport pipes, among other specialized equipment.
LNG must be stored in large cryogenic or pressurized storage tanks, ensuring temperatures remain adequate for liquefied natural gas.
The regasification process is at the heart of these facilities. It consists of increasing temperature so that LNG goes back to its gaseous state. This is done thanks to the use of heat exchangers, which expose the substance to diverse heat sources (such as sea water or ambient air), which effectively evaporate LNG.
Maximum safety measures must be guaranteed in the process, as LNG is highly flammable. At the same time, efficiency in heat exchangers must be ensured, so that they are able to handle big volumes of LNG.
The process typically ends by applying certain additional adjustments, such as eliminating impurities or adding odorant substances to facilitate leak detection.
After the regasification process takes place, natural gas is distributed to final consumers through pipelines (or trucks).
Cryospain: experts in the design, development and commissioning of regasification plants
At Cryospain, we specialize in the design, development, and commissioning of regasification plants. Our expertise allows us to create efficient and reliable facilities, from engineering and design of plants, to the selection of adequate technology, project management and construction and installation.
We also ensure regulatory compliance, so that the project adheres to all necessary safety, environmental, and regulatory standards. At the same time, we’re involved in testing and validating all systems, guaranteeing every component operates according to specifications.
Our efforts have meant we’re at the forefront of innovation in regasification processes, with successful projects such as our involvement in a successful regasification and LIN storage plant in Poland.