The Gas Technology Institute (GTI), in collaboration with the Department of Energy and Brookhaven National Labs, successfully completed testing of a new small-scale natural gas liquefier that could be used to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) for vehicles, utility peak shaving applications, remote gas recovery, and liquefaction of renewable resources such as digester or landfill gas.

The system, which uses a multi-component mixed refrigerant process designed and built by GTI, is sized to produce 1,000 gallons of LNG per day, and reached levels of 1,400 gallons/day during testing. GTI believes the system is readily scalable in capacity ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 gallons/day.

As part of the test for the new system, GTI used it to fuel 20 LNG-powered street sweepers in the Chicago area. The testing verified the expected performance of the system and its capability of producing LNG from low-pressure (20-60 psig) natural gas.

“A unique aspect of this mixed refrigerant liquefaction system is the ease of starting and stopping it,” says Bill Liss, GTI’s director of advanced energy systems. “During testing, the unit cycled at least once each day. After a brief re-start period for cooldown, the liquefier again produces LNG the next day. Once at steady state, the unit was shown to be very stable.”

The system is skid-mounted and uses a natural gas engine to drive the refrigerant compressor. The pre-fabricated, transportable features of the system make it suitable for ease of movement and start-up. The gas engine helps avoid the expense and time of higher voltage, multi-phase power lines.

“Historically, LNG plants have been much larger in scale,” Liss said. “These results may serve as a breakthrough for creating smaller, more cost-competitive plants.”

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