by Osvaldo del Campo, Galileo Technologies SA CEO (left) and Sotirios Kaminis, Kaminco Group, President & CEO (right)

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was originally developed as a means for transporting natural gas across markets. Within this conception, once it arrives at processing terminals, LNG is sent through underground pipelines and distribution networks to supply cities and industries, as well as for vehicle fuel use.
The problem with this model is that LNG production is concentrated at a single point while consumers can be unevenly distributed across large areas. This results in considerable rigidity, typical of large-scale production, and high costs associated with transportation. Both factors deprive consumers of the cost savings that could result from the higher energy density of LNG and its inherent environmental benignity.
Therefore, only to a small extent, has LNG been adopted as fuel for high horse power applications, such as rail, marine, long-haul road transport, mining, drilling, pressure pumping, and stationary power generation.
In addition, the storage of large volumes of LNG at the point of consumption involves, in many cases, a high degree of boil-off and, as a consequence, emissions. This operational aspect, designed to relieve the LNG transportation logistics, poses a clear environmental objection, which has also prevented a widespread adoption of LNG.
It was only until recently that the LNG production plants were only large-scale facilities whose liquefaction cycles generated million cubic meters per day. In the last years, as derivative of this technology, there are new plants that the market named “Mini LNG Production-Stations”, as their capacity was reduced to several hundred thousand cubic meters per day. However, these plants are also well above the needs and financial capacity of any private or small community.
The challenge is to place the production of LNG at the nearest points of consumption, that is, in the consumers’ own hands. To achieve this, it is necessary to reach LNG production levels that match the cost and volume of industrial applications and outlying communities, as well as transport fuel use, whose consumption levels are well below the volume levels generated by the existing LNG plants.
In my vision, the answer for these consumers lies with a model that could be described as “Distributed LNG Production”, which enables them to become their own LNG suppliers. To make it possible, I’ve developed “Nano LNG-Stations”, modular in nature and capable of providing up to 10k gallons per day (approximately 15 tons per day) per unit.
In these “Nano LNG-Stations” modularity is a key aspect, as the progressive addition of modules allows the growth of the installed capacity to be directly proportional to the demand, minimizing financial risk associated with surplus infrastructure.
Furthermore, it is appropriate to compare these equipments with the ‘Mini LNG Production-Stations’ due to their size, production volume of LNG, investment and operating costs. In that case, while the latter requires a capital investment (CAPEX) of around $ 310 per ton of LNG, a “Nano LNG-Stations” requires only a $ 170 per ton of LNG. If we consider the annual operating expenditure (OPEX), the comparison is of 390-210 dollars per ton. Therefore, the use of these units allows savings of 50% in CAPEX and OPEX 40% per annum.
Since no additional constructions -such as perimeter containment walls- are necessary, every unit can be hauled anywhere by a simple trailer for immediate connection to the natural gas distribution network or to a modular treatment plant, which allows gas pre-conditioning at a remote oil & gas field.
In the location just mentioned above, a unit can be used for fueling gas pressure pumping and drilling equipment with LNG, or for the delivery of LNG via virtual pipeline directly to consumers who are distant from pipeline networks and more than 250 miles away from the mother station (the LNG production spot).
This aims at setting in motion remote wells which would have remained outside the system, either as mature or flaring wells. It also creates an additional environmental benefit by converting contaminating vented gas into a high value added liquid fuel.
Biomethane can be also considered as a source for liquefaction or gas compression. Therefore, multiple sources of gas can be considered as different levels of inlet pressure are acceptable: 57psi (4 bar), 156 psi (11 bar) and 213 psi (15 bar).
Regarding the environmental issues associated with LNG storage, liquefaction system of these units includes a multi-stage compression process which features a “boil-off” recovery system that eliminates all gas-venting.
Case Study
Buquebus, a South American sea transportation company, trusted this vision: it has recently adopted seven units to produce LNG as marine fuel for its “Pope Francis”, the world’s first high-speed passenger RO-RO ship powered by Gas Turbines fed on LNG, which daily crosses the River Plate between Argentina and Uruguay.
It will be the first time that a sea transportation company, as is the case with Buquebus, becomes its own self-supplier of LNG.
The LNG consumption of this ship has posed a great challenge on account of its 100 meters length and capacity for 156 cars and 950 passengers.
Each unit applied to the Buquebus project is conceived as a module that can reach a maximum of 7,000 gal/day or 4,480 GGE/day (12 ton/day) of LNG. These modules are connected to the gas distribution network of the outskirts of Buenos Aires. From that location and on a daily basis, two trucks will transport 38.5 thousand gal/day (66 ton/day) of LNG to the Buquebus dock at the city port, for the ferry to comply with its two daily frequencies, which will involve an operating speed of 50 knots.
In marked contrast to traditional fuels, LNG will allow “Francisco” to reduce combustion emissions by 98%, and will generate 50% savings within the operating expense.
The Buquebus experience, will demonstrate that “Distributed LNG Production” through Nano LNG-Stations can bring LNG to private small scale consumers, with clear economic benefits for themselves and for the environment. It is a paradigm shift.

For more information please contact Kaminco at (+30) 210 45 28 240