Natural gas is one of the major energy carriers. Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG is natural gas that has been cooled down to a temperature of -162°C for the purpose of easy storage and transport. At this temperature it can be stored under atmospheric pressure where it then behaves as a boiling liquid with a volume which is 600 times smaller than in its gaseous state. It is odorless, colorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive.
LNG is being produced in 22 countries across the globe, Qatar currently the largest producer but also Australia, Nigeria, Algeria and closer to home, Norway supply LNG to gas demanding markets in the Far East, Europe and South America. Currently, the US is converting from a net gas importer to an export nation based on its large shale gas reserves. It will start delivering to Europe somewhere in 2016.
LNG can be easily shipped in large LNG tanker vessels from production locations to markets worldwide. One such receiving terminal for LNG is the Rotterdam based Gate LNG Terminal where LNG is received from many different suppliers worldwide. At the terminal, most of the LNG is being regassified by adding waste heat, imported from the nearby power plant. A smaller stream of LNG is exported from Gate as cold (-162°C) liquid to serve the emerging LNG fuel markets where LNG is being used as fuel for the engines in large trucks, inland barges and sea-going coasters.
When LNG is released to ambient atmosphere, it will start vaporizing rapidly, extracting heat for this from the surrounding air. As a result vapor in the air is condensing, producing white clouds of frozen ice crystals. However the resulting natural gas in the air is not explosive (in unconfined environment) but could result in a fire when concentrations of gas appear to be between 5 and 15% and an ignition source is around.