DNV GL launches new LNG test centre in the Netherlands

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Norway’s DNV GL, among the world-leading companies in classification, verification and risk management services in the energy sector, has launched its new LNG test center in Groningen, the Netherlands to enable safer and more efficient use of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The LNG test center is equipped to support stakeholders across the value chain in addressing the large variations in the properties, density and calorific values among LNG sources globally.

Located at the DNV GL’s existing renewable energy technology and gas laboratory site, the new test facility has up to 250kg of liquefied gas capacity compatible for the downstream sector.

Additionally, the test center features a heat exchanger designed to allow the temperature of the LNG (and therefore its boil-off) to be precisely regulated.

A more detailed picture of natural gas could enable improvements in the performance of gas engines and improve pricing in LNG bunkering and transfer. The company says that for these latter benefits to materialise improvements in flowmeters would also be necessary.

Johan Holstein, head of gas testing and analysis at DNV GL Oil & Gas said in a statement that the centre would focus on the testing of new sensor technology to determine the composition of LNG: “The current accredited technology, gas chromatography, can take 3-5 minutes to show the composition of LNG,” Holstein asserted “Sensors can give an answer in a second.”

A stable and known composition of LNG is important for accurately assessing energy content and engine performance control. With accurate fuel composition monitoring, DNV GL`s online Propane Knock Index (PKI) methane number calculator can be used to assess the fit-for-purpose of gaseous fuels with end-use appliances instantaneously. LNG from different regions have different compositions, which change further as LNG is used or boils off. Holstein noted that sensors have already been tested with other gas compositions, and further validation could lead to DNV GL certification.

The ability to monitor the composition of LNG in real time (combined with advances in flow metering) could also improve pricing transparency in bunkering, which has traditionally relied on mass alone rather than mass and energy content.

The impact of changing LNG composition on engine performance can also be studied at the Groningen site. Engine developers can optimise ignition patterns and compression ratios depending on the LNG composition, for example, and the facility will allow OEMs to perform compliance tests ranging from automotive engines of around 10hp to off-road and marine engines of around 500kW.

For LNG fuel quality testing, DNV GL has engaged in a strategic partnership with Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) to develop procedures and practices to ascertain and monitor LNG quality. DNV GL and VPS aim to develop a set of tools and measurement methods to provide the LNG industry with accurate, reliable and cost-efficient techniques to help break down the perceived barriers to LNG adoption.