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Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a clear, colourless liquid. It is made by reducing the temperature of natural gas, an energy used in millions of homes for over 30 years, to -162 ºC (-260 ºF).
LNG should not be confused with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) produced during petroleum refining and used in camping stoves and outdoor patio heaters, etc. Liquefied natural gas is non-toxic, non-corrosive and non-pressurized. Some 242 billion m3 of LNG were traded worldwide in 2011.
A long history
The technique of converting natural gas into LNG was developed in Germany in 1893 but it was not until 1941 that the first commercial liquefaction LNG plant was built. In Europe, gas has been an increasingly important source of energy since the 1960s for both industrial and private consumers. The industry has matured in the Far East initially in Japan, followed by Korea and Taiwan where virtually all natural gas is imported as LNG.
Advantages of liquefaction
The volume of LNG is about 600 times less than the volume of pipeline natural gas. Thanks to its liquefied state, it can be transported and stored efficiently, making LNG an attractive alternative to traditional pipeline transport, particularly over long transportation distances and in regions with difficult geographic and political profiles. LNG can even be traded between continents.
Cleanest fossil fuel
Natural Gas is the cleanest fossil fuel. Moreover, this relatively favorable environmental profile of natural gas makes electric power generation on this basis a preferred solution for mid and peak load installations, as the units are easy to switch on and off. This makes gas fired units the ideal supplement to coal fired or nuclear base-loaded installations and complement to renewable resources (solar and wind).