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Idaho National Laboratory

From the INEEL Archives
Feature Story

California groups launch revolutionary INEEL technology used in liquified natural gas plant

Photo of LNG plant in Sacramento

INEEL's patented technology is the heart of this liquefied natural gas plant in Sacramento. The technology will dramatically reduce the size and cost of liquefied natural gas plants.

The unveiling of an INEEL-designed, small-scale natural gas liquefaction facility in California gives a cheaper, more efficient and easily transportable plant alternative to the growing clean energy technology industry. INEEL scientists developed the patented technology used in the first-of-its-kind facility. Pacific Gas and Electric Company officials installed it in June at a test site in Sacramento, Calif., where it's undergoing a startup and operational testing phase.

The new liquefier is expected to revolutionize the liquefaction industry. The new technology will dramatically reduce an LNG plant's size and cost. Standard plants cost about $10 million to construct and occupy five- to six-acre sites. When this prototype technology is fully developed, plant construction should cost between 2-3 million dollars and require only about 240 square feet of space.

The liquefier is one achievement from the Department of Energy's joint research and development with the growing clean energy technology industry. Reducing emissions from heavy-duty vehicles is an essential part of achieving cleaner air. Liquefied natural gas from this plant can be used as a clean, alternative fuel in heavy-duty trucks and transit buses.

The new technology is designed to draw natural gas from an existing pipeline at a pressure letdown station, liquefy the natural gas and store it until it is used, trucked away or re-injected into the pipeline.

Because of its community-friendly design and low cost, a number of facilities can easily be placed close to clean-fuel customers. Customers could include public entities such as city, county, transit, school district and waste removal fleets, as well as private fleets, such as those used by supermarkets and delivery companies. Other significant partners in the pioneering liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility effort include the California Energy Commission, Sacramento Air Quality Management District, SoCal Gas Company and South Coast Air Quality Management District.

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