LNG has recently been in the news a bit more than normal, and seems to be gaining some headway as an alternative transportation fuel, but in the past LNG has seemed to be an uneconomical solution. Natural gas is piped into most communities; all that we have to do is compress it and fill our vehicle with it, why would we be going through all of the trouble to liquefy natural gas? Natural gas is a domestic product, and by liquefying natural gas we can get it into locations where pipelines don’t exist, in addition LNG is becoming a clean energy alternative in the trucking industry.
The main purpose for liquefying natural gas is to make it easy to transport. Once it is transported to its destination the LNG is then converted back to its gas form and distributed into a natural gas pipeline. This is a cumbersome process that has in the past been too expensive to be economical but as world demand increases and technology advances, LNG is becoming more popular.
While LNG is not widely used for transportation, it has become popular in the trucking industry where Westport is a leading innovator in LNG technology. Recently Westport and Shell began a co-marketing campaign in North America that could insure that infrastructure becomes available along the major trucking routes throughout North America. This could have a significant impact on LNG usage in North America and also fuel a surge in demand for CNG vehicles. Westport has also entered an agreement with GMC to provide natural gas engines for their light duty vehicles, and while LNG is not practical for light duty vehicles, CNG utilization would benefit.
When we consider the economic implications of becoming more dependent on a domestic supply of energy and see how LNG could open up North Americas domestic infrastructure it all starts to make sense. When we see companies like Shell, Westport, and GMC buying into the idea of a natural gas future, the infrastructure to support it shouldn’t be far behind.