As Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was originally developed as a means for transporting natural gas across markets, liquefaction plants were well above the needs and financial capacity of any private company.

In addition, the storage of large volumes of LNG involved, in many cases, a high degree of boil-off and, as a consequence, emissions. All these issues prevented the widespread adoption of LNG among high horsepower (HHP) consumers, in spite of the lower price of this fuel and its environmental benefits. The same barriers, along with the cost of laying gas pipelines, prevented the gasification of small and outlying communities.

To address the needs of those consumers, in January 2013, Galileo Technologies introduced its Cryobox® Nano LNG-Station, which packages all the capabilities of a large scale LNG plant into one compact and transportable unit. This milestone was accompanied by the introduction of the ZPTS® Gas Conditioning plant, which widens the sources available for liquefaction: from sources with high content of CO2, such as biomethane, to even simpler gas compositions that require minimal dehydration.

Both units measure the size of a 40 ft. sea container and can be hauled by two separate trailers to connect them later on to natural gas mains, biodigestors, or wellhead equipment in a distant oil & gas field. The outcome of this new technology is a Distributed Liquefaction model, which liquefies every type of gas right at the source in any location, and enables distribution logistics that are equal to liquid fuels. This makes clean gas fuels available without the need of laying pipelines, extending the reach of current natural gas infrastructure or shortening the distance between new gas sources and consumers.

Due to their packaged skid mounted configuration, the installation and commissioning of both units only requires a ground level, air compressed supply and an internet connection. The Cryobox maximum standard unit supplies 10,000 gallons (15 tonnes) of LNG per day. This installed capacity can grow at the pace of demand, through the progressive addition of Cryobox units, even until reaching the volume of LNG produced by a mini LNG plant. The ZPTS is already prepared for these growing processes, due to its design for working with clusters of one or more Cryobox units.

All the liquefaction cycle is driven by a single electric motor of 450 kW installed power and a single 600 HP compressor; it runs entirely unmanned through remote control operation via a SCADA proprietary system, and consumes just 0.7 kWh/Kg of power (including the conditioning process). In addition, Cryobox has an automatic boil-off recovery system that keeps the volume of stored gas in constant levels for unlimited periods of time, solving problems caused by vents during the idle time of large LNG filling stations.

Focusing on immediate fuel availability, the equipment has a cold start-up capacity which allows it to reach peak production within 10 minutes (in a period of 24 hr.) without energy losses and inefficiencies. This Cryobox feature represents an advantage when compared to mini, mid-scale or large-scale plants that require between 12 and 18 hours to start producing.
Success Cases
LNG at the service of transport
The first worldwide Distributed Liquefaction experience was a project to fuel the LNG turbines of the fastest and environmentally cleanest ferry worldwide, Francisco, owned by the South American maritime company Buquebus. The bespoke liquefaction plant that serves this company has seven Cryobox-500-11TM stations, six in operation and one back-up station, which produce 7,683 gallons (12.48 tonnes) of LNG per unit on a daily basis, all of them connected to a single ZPTS, which sources natural gas (with 1- 1.9 mol % of CO2 and 0.8 – 1.5 mol % of N2) from the public gas grid. Located in San Vicente, a town in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, this facility was built and commissioned in 6 months, 18-30 months earlier than usually scheduled for a mini LNG plant of similar capacity. Its footprint is another feature to be highlighted: the seven Cryobox units occupy an area of approximately 50 ft. (15 m) by 100 ft. (30.5 m), and the whole facility requires only 10 acres (4 hectares), including the two tanker filling station with a total storage capacity of 106,000 gallons (163 tonnes). After two years of operation, the availability rate of this liquefaction equipment reached over 99%, allowing Buquebus to fultill its commitment to its passengers.
During each of the two daily roundtrips between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay, the ferry consumes approximately 25,800 gallons (40 tonnes) of LNG. Two tanker trucks are used to cover the 43.5 miles (70 km.) between the liquefaction plant and the Buquebus terminal at the port of Buenos Aires. The use of LNG instead of diesel oil allows this 99 m long ship to realize fuel cost savings of 60% and, above all, to reduce combustion emissions by 98%. Thus, up to 150 cars and 1000 passengers cross the River Plate at cruising speeds of around 53 knots under Buquebus’ ‘flag of the planet’ trademark.

Liquefaction of Shale Gas, monetization and distribution without pipelines
The second Distributed Liquefaction experience has been recently carried out in North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to integrate flare gas capture and LNG production right at the wellhead.
Equipped with a ZPTS Plant and a Cryobox station, this solution engineered for Terra Energy captures natural gas and turns it into 7,800 – 8,500 gallons (12.3 – 13.4 tonnes) of LNG per day, depending on the production output of the wells. The LNG produced is stored on-site in ISO tanks  ̶  whose boil-off gas is also liquefied  ̶  and then transported about 50 miles (80 km) to be consumed as a diesel substitute fuel for drill-rig power generation and frac-water heating.
Due to their packaged skid mounted configuration, both units are prepared to be easily redeployed in a new productive location and work under the harsh conditions of North Dakota’s oil fields, which are home to frigid winters and scorching summers.
This successful experience has proven how Galileo’s Distributed Liquefaction technology can be adapted to the monetization of multiple gas sources. In this case, allowing to significantly reduce the waste of flaring, and using that energy to produce additional oil and gas in a region where the dispersion of shale gas sources can make the laying of gas-gathering lines economically unsustainable.