How to

28 March 2017

Utilising Waste Cold from LNG Re-gasification to Reduce Energy Demand & CO2 Emissions

Img: Bilfinger SE 
Cooling is an energy-intensive task, consuming 17% of the world’s electricity and producing 10% of its CO2 emissions as of February 2016. The demand for cooling is only expected to increase, and as such finding methods of reducing the environmental impact of the process should be considered of the utmost importance.

As the cost of cooling continues to rise, we are simultaneously wasting what could potentially be a massive energy reserve.

In order to ease their transport across the globe, gases used for a variety of purposes are cooled to a liquid state. During the re-gasification process of such liquefied natural gases (LNGs), this reserve of cold energy is simply discarded.  Now, various models and case studies are laying the foundations for an industry in which this cold energy is instead captured and further utilised.

This could be achieved via the use of energy vectors to store cold energy, for which Professor Toby Peters, Chair in Power & Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham, suggests liquid nitrogen as a suitable substance.  The cold energy can then be stored and transported “for use on demand in cities and further afield.”

According to Professor Peters, the waste cold from the LNG imports of just 7 EU countries in 2014 could have supported the cooling demand for 210,000 refrigerated vehicles, which accounts for approximately one fifth of the entire EU fleet.

Liquid nitrogen in particular seems to be an ideal choice of energy vector. When converting from a liquid state to a gaseous one, nitrogen expands to 700 times its previous volume, which makes it capable of serving as a fuel for zero-emission engines.

There is much work to be done before this new “cold economy” truly demonstrates its positive impact, but these studies already demonstrate the need for it.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.