International demand for natural gas is high, and there are plentiful deposits to be found in many places. Gas is also more environment-friendly than other fossil fuels. The challenge lies in making it less difficult to transport to consumers – and Norwegian researchers are looking to do just that.
Buoyancy transfer technology to increase distribution and consumption
When natural gas is cooled, it becomes liquid and its volume condenses by a factor of 600. This liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be readily transported by ship or stored in onshore bunkers.
“Currently, a port requires specially constructed facilities for offloading LNG from carriers,” explains Morten A. Christophersen, Managing Director of Connect LNG. “We are developing an alternative solution for transferring the gas from ships to onshore bunkers that makes it possible to utilise simpler LNG terminals. This would help to increase distribution and use of natural gas, in more sparsely populated corners of the world as well.”
“The core of our system is a buoy loading system that is used to connect a flexible transfer line between ship and land,” says Mr Christophersen. “The LNG is transferred through this line.”
The company calls its solution the Universal Buoyancy System. It will help to cut costs and construction time, with the added advantage that it can be moved to wherever in the world there is demand for natural gas. In combination with conventional pressurised tanks, the buoyancy system is virtually 100 per cent mobile and is easy to set up. Different types of ships will be able to use the system with no need for redesign.
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