Liquefied natural gas (lng) shell global electricity for kids

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Shell has been a pioneer in liquefied natural gas (LNG) for more than 50 years. In Arzew, Algeria, the first commercial LNG liquefaction plant was delivered in 1964 with Shell involvement, and we shipped the first commercial cargo from Algeria to the UK in the same year, starting today’s global trade.

We have continued to innovate and improve the technology behind LNG, and to find ways to make more LNG available where it is needed around the world. For example, we are building Prelude FLNG, the world’s largest floating LNG production facility, which will unlock gas resources from underwater fields too uneconomic or challenging to reach from land. What is LNG and how can we use it?

LNG is a clear, colourless and non-toxic liquid which forms when natural gas is cooled to -162ºC (-260ºF). The cooling process shrinks the volume of the gas 600 times, making it easier and safer to store and ship. In its liquid state, LNG will not ignite.

When LNG reaches its destination, it is turned back into a gas at regasification plants. It is then piped to homes, businesses and industries where it is burnt for heat or to generate electricity. LNG is now also emerging as a cost-competitive and cleaner fuel, especially for shipping heavy-duty road transport.

Pull back to wide front view of the blocks as four more appear frame-right of the first two. The blocks are labelled 2000, 2010, 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, and rise incrementally in height from left to right. The blocks cast a slight grey shadow just in front of them against a white background.

Aerial view of gridlined surface as a simulation of a rotating globe of the earth emerges from the surface, continents visible in a mustard colour and the oceans between in pale blue, the globe casting a faint grey shadow in a south-easterly direction.

So, how is liquefied natural gas produced? Natural gas extracted from the ground contains impurities, water and other associated liquids. First it is processed to clean it. It goes through a series of pipes and vessels where gravity helps separate the gas from some of the heavier liquids.

Zoom to close-up of particles, showing the yellow particles, representing carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, being absorbed into the background, disappearing, leaving green, blue, turquoise and purple particles flowing from frame-left to frame-right.

Other impurities are then stripped out. The natural gas passes through a water-based solvent that absorbs carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. These would otherwise freeze when the gas is cooled and so cause blockages. Next any remaining water is removed, as this would also freeze. Finally, remaining lighter natural gas liquids – mainly propane and butane – are extracted to be sold separately or used as a refrigerant later in the cooling process. Traces of mercury are also filtered out. Now the purified natural gas – methane with some ethane – is ready to be liquefied.

This happens in heat exchangers. A coolant, chilled by giant refrigerators, absorbs the heat from the natural gas. It cools the gas to -162°C, shrinking its volume by 600 times. This turns it into a clear, colourless, non-toxic liquid – liquefied natural gas, or LNG – that is much easier to store and transport.

Tanks and structures rise from the white-grey surface and the beaker becomes opaque and, as we pan to a front view, it turns into an insulated tank, displaying the Shell logo on its front. Pipes running from the tanks towards the foreground appear to flow with blue liquid, the remainder of the background still in whites and greys.

When the ship arrives at its destination, the LNG is transferred to a regasification plant where it is heated, returning it to its gaseous state. The gas is then transported via pipelines to customers, providing energy for homes and industry.