What is LNG?

infographic telling what liquefied natural gas (LNG) is - Methan cooled down to -162 degree

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is greener than any other conventional fuel, highly cost-efficient and cool in the most literal sense of the word.

Image of container ship and trucks at a habour

LNG is natural gas in its liquid form. Cooling down the gas below its boiling point to -162°C (-259°F), which happens through a process known as liquefaction, makes it a clear liquid. This transformation also decreases its volume 600 times, making it an easier and more cost-efficient fuel to transport over long distances.  

LNG makes the air we breathe cleaner

Natural gas is composed of primarily methane (CH4). Methane is a greenhouse gas like CO2 and is 25 times more harmful if emitted to the atmosphere. However, burning of natural gas is cleaner than with any other oil-based fuels. No matter the material state, natural gas contains less carbon, which is why the CO2 emissions from its combustion are lower, and particulate matter and other greenhouse gas emissions like sulphur oxides (SOX) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) also are significantly reduced. As a result, LNG can be seen as one of the most environmentally friendly fuels in the market.

LNG vs. conventional fuels

In comparison with for instance diesel and conventional marine fuel such as heavy fuel oil (HFO), especially the SOX emissions from natural gas are a lot lower – 100% lower compared to HFO and 99% lower compared to diesel. But, natural gas also emits 90% less NOX than HFO and 75-95% less than diesel. When it comes to LNG’s CO2 footprint, it is reduced by 25% compared to HFO and 20-30% compared to diesel. And as for particulate matter, natural gas also reduces such emissions by 99% in comparison with conventional marine fuel.

LNG ship

From well-site to consumer

Natural gas is extracted from underground wells. Before it can be used as a fuel, the gas must undergo various processes to remove impurities and heavy hydrocarbons. After these processes the gas is ready for the liquefaction – cooling it down until it liquefies. Specially designed LNG carriers and insulated tank trucks then transport the gas to its destination, where it is usually returned to the vapour state at a regasification plant or used as a responsible fuel for ships and trucks.

No contamination in case of a spill

Since it is composed primarily of methane (around 90%), LNG is odourless, colourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. If spilled, it instantly evaporates and dissipates into the atmosphere, leaving no residue to be cleaned up. Also, if spilled on water, LNG will float and then evaporate without having any ill effects on the ocean’s ecosystem.

Small-scale liquefaction makes LNG more easily available

Small-scale liquefaction plants can move the production of LNG closer to the place of consumption. Not only will this decrease transportation costs and LNG product costs for consumers, it will also make it possible for businesses and communities without access to the gas grid to benefit from using natural gas. Small-scale LNG plants can also help adjust the availability of natural gas to the seasonal fluctuations in demand.