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LNG fuelling infrastructure – multiple demand is key to success

Mon 11 Mar 2019 by John Snyder

LNG fuelling infrastructure – multiple demand is key to success
Eagle LNG’s Talleyrand LNG bunkering facility is in an active container terminal

Chart Industries’ Erik Langeteig explains the design and build requirements for small-scale LNG infrastructure

“Where do you place 500,000-gallons of LNG storage in an active container terminal?” asks Chart Industries director of application development for engineered systems group Erik Langeteig.

Is was this conundrum that Mr Langeteig had to address when leading a project to develop the cryogenic tank equipment at Eagle LNG’s Talleyrand LNG bunkering station in the Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT) in Florida.

The facility provides weekly refuelling for Crowley Maritime’s two LNG-powered, 2,400-TEU container/roll-on roll-off ships (ConRo), El Coqui and Taino that serve San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mr Langeteig explains that the small footprint at JAXPORT further complicated the engineering solution: “Since the site is only two acres, we didn’t have space as a natural safety buffer, which meant the bunkering facility required a unique engineering solution.”

Erik Langeteig (Chart Industries): "If you can combine demand points ... into a single terminal, that is where you start to see these projects take off"

The Chart team decided to eliminate all the bottom connections to the 52-m-long, 5.8-m-diameter LNG storage tanks. Instead, each of the 1,000 m3 capacity tanks has an inner shell to hold the LNG and an outer stainless-steel shell that is insulated and kept under vacuum. Two internal LNG pumps inside the tanks can each deliver a flow rate of 3,407 litres per minute, with a design capacity flow rate of 10,220 litres per minute, sufficient to fuel each of Crowley’s ConRo ships in less than eight hours.

Houston-based Eagle LNG and Crowley Maritime’s LNG engineers, in consultation with JAXPORT, the US Coast Guard and the local fire department, jointly developed the design of the Talleyrand LNG fuel depot.

LNG is delivered to the Talleyrand LNG bunker station by tanker trucks from Eagle LNG’s Maxville LNG Facility in West Jacksonville. The Maxville LNG Facility has an additional 3.8M litres of LNG storage capacity.

Eagle LNG transfers LNG to power Crowley’s ConRo ships through a Mobile Transfer Unit with ongoing simultaneous operations, including gantry crane operation and container movement forward, and roro aft of accommodation.

The first LNG bunkering station of its kind in the US, Mr Langeteig calls Eagle LNG Talleyrand “an exciting marine project”.

Eagle LNG president Sean Lalani feels the small footprint design of the Eagle LNG terminal “can be easily replicated in other coastal ports”.

Marine bunkering projects in Europe

While progress in LNG refuelling infrastructure has been slow in the US, Mr Langeteig points out that his European counterparts have been far busier.

Czech Republic-based Chart Ferox and PPS Pipeline Systems were part of a consortium chosen in 2016 by Lithuania-based Klaipedos Nafta (KN) to carry out engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) for the LNG-reloading station at the Port of Klaipeda.

Klaipeda is the first full-scale LNG import terminal in the region, offering reloading services for small-scale LNG carriers that provide break-bulk distribution to small- and mid-scale import terminals in the Baltic. These services are critical to expanding the use of cleaner fuels in terms of transportation and power generation in the region. The LNG reloading station comprises five 1,000-m3 storage tanks, two tanker-lorry loading bays, a marine bunkering jetty and the regasification unit.

Chart worked with Becker Marine Systems and the German company’s subsidiary Hybrid Port Energy on the development of a shore power solution, deployed in the Port of Hamburg to reduce emissions from cruise ships.

Five 1.5 MW LNG generator sets fuelled by two 17-tonne LNG containers on the barge produce electricity for the vessel’s power needs while it is docked, allowing the cruise ship to shut down its diesel generator sets while it is in the port. By using the gas-powered generators, CO2 emissions are reduced by 20%, nitrous oxides by 80%, while particulate matter and sulphur oxide emissions are virtually eliminated.

“A broad range of experience and problem-solving has proved beneficial, allowing some solutions to find their way across transportation modes”

Designed as a flexible and mobile solution, the 76-m-long barge supplies power to cruise ships during the summer season and is able to operate as a floating power and heat plant in the winter.

“Part of the difficulty with the cruise ship market is the seasonality of it,” says Mr Langeteig. “What makes the operation successful at the Port of Hamburg is that the barge supplies power to cruise ships during the summer season and is able to operate as a floating power and heat plant in the winter. You need to get the throughput in order for it to pay-off, or strong environmental regulations driving the adoption of these types of power barges.”

First US railroad powered by LNG

Mr Langeteig has developed a broad portfolio of projects outside the marine sector utilising cryogenic gas applications; these range from power generation, to mine-haul trucking, to rail.  This broad range of experience and problem-solving has proved beneficial, allowing some solutions to find their way across transportation modes.

FECR’s locomotives run on LNG, the first such railroad to do so in the US

One such project involved the development of an LNG tank solution for Florida East Coast Railway (FECR), which became the first North American railroad in 2017 to adopt LNG for its entire line-haul locomotive fleet.

Each of FECR’s 24 locomotives is paired with a tender car specially designed and built by Chart Industries; these are fitted with an ISO container with a cryogenic tank permanently mounted in a railcar. The cryogenic tank – protected by a heavy steel frame to protect it against collisions, punctures, impacts and derailments – consists of an inner stainless-steel tank within another carbon-steel tank, with a thermal insulation layer in between. “It’s actually a much smaller version of the tanks at the Eagle LNG Talleyrand terminal,” explains Mr Langeteig.

FECR particularly liked the flexibility offered by the ISO containers, that can be removed to perform repairs. “It has submerged pumps in the column so that you can pump the LNG out the top of tank and then across at pressure to the locomotive, where it can be re-gasified with engine heat and consumed in the engine,” says Mr Langeteig.

Chart collaborated with the engine manufacturers on the project to better understand the flows, pressures and supply they needed to develop a solution.

To date, said Mr Langeteig, FECR locomotives “have 15M km of successful operation and have consumed 2M gallons of LNG. That’s a substantial amount of CO2 removed from the air, plus the associated nitrous oxide, sulphur oxides and particulate matter as compared with burning diesel.” Furthermore, burning LNG allows the rail operator to comply with US federal rules imposing tighter restrictions on locomotive emissions.

The tender car provides enough fuel for one roundtrip between Hialeah and Miami – about 1,448 km of heavy haulage, obtaining speeds up to 96 km/h .

Another benefit to using a tender car with an ISO container is that “you have a volume play”, says Mr Langeteig. “With diesel fuel you need to fill a tank right on the locomotive, which limits your volume. A tender car provides significantly more storage than just a locomotive tank.”

FECR is the first railroad in the US to haul LNG as a commodity under a US Federal Railroad Administration waiver and its trucking subsidiary Raven Transport converted its fleet of trucks to dual fuel, allowing them to burn both diesel and LNG.

The use of LNG across the two different modes is not coincidental; FECR’s original owner, New Fortress Energy, owns and operates a 378,541 litres per day small-scale LNG plant in Hialeah and FECR’s new owner, Mexico’s Grupo Mexico Transportes, remains committed to using LNG.

While Chart has worked with other railroads exploring the use of LNG as a fuel, progress has been slow because of the capital costs involved in creating the refuelling infrastructure.

Beyond the requirement for federal regulatory approval, railroads often use their locomotives on different routes in their networks, which means if you are using LNG as a fuel, the refuelling infrastructure is required at multiple points across the rail network. “This would involve billions of dollars of investment in converting your whole fleet and building the refuelling infrastructure,” says Mr Langeteig.

“The reason that FECR has worked so well,” he explains, “is that its trains are always in a point-to-point service, which minimises the amount of infrastructure that you need for the operation.”

Heavy-duty LNG

About two-thirds of small-scale LNG demand comes from trucks, about 220,000 of which are in operation in China. Mr Langeteig notes a drop off in the Chinese LNG-fuelled truck market, as the government has shifted its focus and subsidies. “We’re still growing in the vehicle and truck market, but primarily in Europe,” he says. “Europe has been the rising star in the over-the-road market.” The reason for this is a matter of “real estate”.

Mr Langeteig says trucks are designed for the tight, compact streets in Europe, meaning that the engine must fit under the cab. “In the US, the roads are wider and there’s plenty of space,” which is reflected in the design of the class A trucks, which have the engines out in front, allowing for more flexibility in power options. With air emissions regulations tightening “LNG is really the only cleaner fuel available to the European heavy-duty vehicle market,” he says.

He also notes that in the US and Canada, there is continued interest in dual-fuel applications for mine-hauling vehicles. Mine-hauling vehicles may have as many as four of the same LNG tanks that would be used in one lorry, according to Mr Langeteig. “We fit them into the ‘dead real estate’ in a mine-haul truck,” said Mr Langeteig. “LNG is not their primary fuel, but with a mine-haul truck you get so much more consistent driving that you hit that sweet spot. When you are putting the throttle down, there’s usually a lot more diesel used in those dual-fuel applications.”

“What makes LNG fuelling infrastructure projects successful is when you can service multiple demand centres,” says Mr Langeteig. “The name of the game is throughput. Any way you can pull together multiple demand centres and put some flexibility to where the LNG is being used, that really helps with the viability of a project. Even at a dollar a gallon delta, to get to a couple of million dollars, that is a lot of gallons you have to sell. If you can combine demand points and demand modes into a single terminal, that’s where you start to see these projects take off.”

Mr Langeteig will present on “Thinking innovatively and collaboratively to provide complete LNG fuelling solutions for road, maritime and rail” at LNG 19.

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