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REPORTING · 12th March 2014
Walter McFarlane
LNG Canada was in Kitimat on Thursday, March 6th to perform a demonstration of LNG for the people of Kitimat. They presented to the schools, the presented to the public and they presented to the local leaders.

Erik Neandross, CEO of GNA was there to demonstrate the properties of LNG. “The purpose of this is really to go through the basics of LNG, what it is, and most importantly, what it’s not. We understand there are a lot of misconceptions about LNG, how it will behave. A lot of people think it will blow up, is it a bomb, those kinds of things. We’re going to go through all that and talk about some of the realities of the product,” said Neandross.

He explained people use natural gas every day, it is a part of everyone’s lives. Liquefied Natural gas is a cryogenic liquid, very cold, so when it gets warm, such as from room temperature, it boils back into a gas. It is odourless because the mercaptan, which makes natural gas smell like rotten eggs, interferes with the liquefaction process.

Neandross told the gathered public it is clear, non-toxic and not corrosive. However, it is an asphyxiant so they will have to take precaution with sensors which lets them know if it is filling the air of a room.

He filled a balloon with natural gas to show it is lighter than air by letting the balloon float. “It will not contaminate the soil or the ground if it is spilled on the land,” said Neandross.

He poured some LNG into a glass of water. Once the bubbling stopped, he showed the crowd how ice had formed in the glass of water, but there was no residue. “Of course, we don’t plan on spilling LNG, but if it does, that’s what happens,” said Neandross.

With the help of Diago, an assistant from the audience, he showed the temperature of LNG is -149 degrees Celsius.

He explained skin exposed to LNG would suffer a cryogenic burn.

Returning to the balloon, Neandross demonstrated how to make LNG. The contents of the balloon was 100% natural gas. By pouring LNG onto the balloon, the gas inside the balloon condensed into LNG reducing the size of the balloon.

“That’s the world’s smallest LNG production plant right there,” joked Neandross. “I’m the plant manager, I’m the safety manager, I cut the grass, I do it all.”

The LNG in the balloon was quick to turn back into a gas and the balloon obtained its original size. “The balloon shrunk as we made liquid. That’s why we do it,” said Neandross. He explained the reduction process would reduce an amount of Natural gas the size of a beach ball to the size of a baseball. “If we think about shipping this across the ocean, what do we want to carry, beach balls or baseballs,” said Neandross.

He explained the reason they make LNG is simply so they could ship it much easier in a given space. LNG is never used as fuel. However, the vapours coming off the natural gas is used for fuel. Making it is only to move it around.

The next topic is was about when ships run aground, the most significant incident did not release the LNG. The transport of LNG has a high safety record. While natural gas does burn, it needs fuel, oxygen and ignition.

He put up a chart that shows that LNG will only ignite at a certain point, between 5% LNG / 95% air and 15% LNG and 85% air. Going back to the balloon, Neandross stated if he could figure out a way of getting a flame in there, the gas would not burn and the flame would go out. “That is why LNG won’t burn, it is 100% natural gas in liquid form,” said Neandross

He demonstrated how natural gas was flammable by filling a beaker with natural gas, capping it with a make shift Bunsen burner and lighting the gas coming out of the burner. He pointed out the interior of the bottle, the LNG was too rich to catch fire. He pointed out there was no smoke so it was good for the environment and there is a lot of it.

The way to put it out is to cut off the oxygen, however, a fire will prevent a gas cloud from blowing around, which would have more flame. Adding water would add more heat to the LNG and make it flair up.

“We hope there is never a spill, but if there is, education is important,” said Neandross

The final part of the demonstration was how Natural gas responds to heat. Explained it take twice as much heat to get Natural Gas going. By lighting up a cigarette and placing it in some LNG… nothing happened. The tip of the cigarette was about 370 degrees, much less than the 580 degrees it would take to light it.

“This is a dangerous product, it can hurt you, it can burn you in multiple ways, cold, heat. We do have to respect it. We have to wear personal protective equipment,” said Neandross. “So far, in the 50 years we’ve talked about, LNG has had an amazing safety record. It’s the design, it’s the codes, it’s the standards, it’s the methodical attention to safety and training and inspections.”

He showed how a flexible hose, dropped in LNG shattered.
Neandross and helper, Diago
Neandross and helper, Diago
The LNG boils as it is poured into a beaker
The LNG boils as it is poured into a beaker