Mechanical Engineering Dissertation

Pages: 23 (6370 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 70  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Energy  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … shaping the future of energy production today, including the push for more environmentally friendly alternatives as well as the most cost effective approaches. In this environment, liquefied natural gas has emerged as a viable interim solution to many of the challenges involved in the transition from a fossil-fuel-based global infrastructure to one where a blend of energy-production approaches are in place. The primary advantages of using liquefied natural gas relate to the cost efficiencies in its transportation, since it occupies around one-six-hundredth of the space of the natural gas from which it is produced. One of the most significant disadvantages of liquefied natural gas, though, is the enormous expense involved in its manufacture and storage. At present, there are about 60 liquefied natural gas receiving terminals operating in 16 countries around the world and many more are either under active construction or are in the planning stages. The siting of these terminals is based on a combination of geographic proximity, as well as political and social factors that can increase the costs associated with the manufacturing process. Despite the challenges involved, the liquefied natural gas industry is expected to account for an increasing share of the energy market in the next several decades in the United States and abroad. Therefore identify the salient operational aspects of liquefied natural gas represents a timely and valuable enterprise which is the focus of this study. Chapter one of the study provides an overview and background in the introduction, as well as the study's aims and objectives and chapter two presents a review and analysis of the liquefaction process, how liquefied natural gas is used to generate power, and recent trends in the development and operation of natural gas fields

. Finally, a summary of the research and important findings are presented in the study concluding chapter.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Aims and Objectives

Chapter Two: Review and Analysis

Liquefaction Process

Using LNG to Generate Power

Development and Operation of Gas Fields

Chapter Three: Methodology

Description of the Study Approach

Data-Gathering Method and Database of Study

Chapter Four: Conclusion

An Investigation of Modern Liquefied Natural Gas Operations

Chapter One: Introduction

Today, the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry is generating an increasing amount of attention and investments from the private sector and these trends are expected to increase in the future (Liquefied Natural Gas 2012). These current trends are not surprising given that LNG is a highly useful approach to the transportation of natural gas because LNG only requires about one-six hundredth of the volume of gaseous natural gas (Liquefied Natural Gas 2012). Moreover, innovations in technology are further reducing the costs associated with the liquefaction and regasification of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas 2012). Based on the cost advantages in transporting LNG compared to natural gas, LNG provides a viable approach for gaining access to otherwise-unreachable deposits of natural gas where pipeline construction would be cost prohibitive or unfeasible for other reasons such as disputed political boundaries and environment issues. For example, according to Ben-Moshe et al. (2009), "Natural gas liquefaction projects often take place in less developed countries in South America and West Africa, where political risk factors abound, including currency conversion risk, sovereign risk and environmental issues presented by investing in the global market" (p. 428).

There are some other advantages to reducing natural gas to a liquefied form as well. For example, when it is gasified, LNG will only combust when concentration levels of 5 to 15% when mixed with air are achieved; moreover, even in confined environments, LNG will not explode and any vapors associated with the product will likewise not explode, thereby reducing the potential for ignition of spilled fuel (Liquefied Natural Gas 2012). By eliminating all oxygen, water and carbon dioxide from natural gas, the liquefaction process transforms natural gas into nearly pure methane (Liquefied Natural Gas 2012). Based on these and other attributes that are discussed further below, current projections by industry analysts indicate that future use of LNG will continue to increase despite the enormous infrastructure costs that are involved (Liquefied Natural Gas 2012), with some industry analysts projecting a significant increase in demand over the next 25 years (Lebeck 2006).

At present, natural gas has become a vital component of the network that provides the U.S. with its energy needs, representing more than one-fifth (21.92%) of all of the energy produced in the U.S. In 2003 (Lebeck 2006). Currently, the main applications for natural gas in the U.S. include:

1. Electricity generation: 22.6% of natural gas delivered to end users;

2. Residential heating and cooking: 23.2% of natural gas delivered to end users, and,

3. Industrial production and manufacturing: 36.9% of natural gas delivered to end users (Lebeck 2006).

These respective levels are depicted graphically in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Respective Levels of Natural Gas Use in the United States

Source: Based on textual data in Lebeck 2006

In addition, natural gas is regarded as a superior source of fuel for generating electricity compared to coal since it creates less emission, does not involve as much initial or long-term capital investment, and is more efficient in the combustion process (Lebeck 2006). Not surprisingly, these attributes have resulted in the increased consumption of natural gas at the global level as well over the past 3 decades or so, and comparably significant increases are projected for global demand for natural gas through 2030 (Lebeck 2006). These projections are supported by other industry analysts such as Knowles who reports, "Natural gas is forecasted to be the fastest growing component of global energy consumption, with projected average annual increases of 2.8% between 2001 and 2025. Global natural gas consumption is projected to increase from 90 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2001 to 176 Tcf in 2025" (2009, p. 294).

These trends are further reinforced by recent initiatives by state and federal lawmakers in the United States as well as other governments that are pushing environmentally responsible energy solutions in response to climate change (Lebeck 2006) and the need for additional energy sources to reduce dependence of foreign suppliers to promote national security (Ben-Mosbe, Crowell, Gale, Peace, Rosenblatt & Thomason 2009). These trends have special significance for LNG production and supplies for the next 25 years, an issue that is the focus of the problem considered by this study which is discussed further below.

Statement of the Problem

Domestic consumption of natural gas is projected to increase significantly during the next 25 years, outpacing the overall demand for energy during this same period (Lebeck 2006). Although a major facility LNG receiving terminal has recently been completed in Louisiana, the costs that are associated with launching and maintaining these facilities makes their justification an important and timely enterprise given the scarcity of alternative energy developmental resources. Moreover, with electricity accounting for the majority of the natural gas applications during the coming quarter century, it will be critical to determine whether these investments are worthwhile in view of the projections concerning peak oil at mid-century and the availability of even remote supplies of natural gas that are suitable for liquefaction and transportation as LNG (Lebeck 2006). In sum, the growing demand for natural gas represents a wide range of supply issues given the current and projected production levels of natural gas in the United States (Lebeck 2006), making the need for this type of study all the more timely and important today. To achieve this analysis, this study was guided by the aims and objectives described further below.

Aims and Objectives

The overarching aim of this study was to determine the suitability of liquefied natural gas as an energy source for generating power by investigating the operation principles of liquefied natural gas and the associated risks involved. In support of this aim, the study was guided by the following objectives.

The objectives of this study were two-fold:

1. To critically review the relevant literature concerning the processes involved in the extraction, production and transportation of liquefied natural gas; and,

2. To build a reference list of all resources and sources of data utilized for this project.

Chapter Two: Review and Analysis

Chapter Introduction

This chapter provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, scholarly, organizational and governmental literature concerning the processes involved in the extraction, production and transportation of liquefied natural gas, including the liquefaction process, a discussion concerning how LNG is used to generate power, followed by an assessment of current trends in the development and operation of gas fields around the world.

Liquefaction Process

Just as the basic technologies involved in processing petroleum have remained unchanged for several decades, the technologies for LNG processing also date back to the early 1940s where the first commercial facility was constructed in Cleveland, Ohio; however, the facilities was closed after just a few years of operation due to a gas leak and explosion (Chandra 2012). The first large-scale commercial LNG plant was constructed in 1964 in Algeria and became operational a year later; likewise, Phillips built… [END OF PREVIEW]

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