LNG technology developer LIQAL are perfectly positioned to embrace this market momentum as they expand their operations across Europe. LIQAL are a fast-growing, innovative Dutch company founded in 2014. While they may be young, they are certainly not lacking experience. Their passionate team of gas experts have extensive hands-on LNG expertise, and they were early pioneers in the LNG technology market. They design, produce and deliver LNG and hydrogen fuelling systems, as well as innovative liquefaction technology for (bio)methane.
LIQAL contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport sector and believe that LNG is the next station for fuel station operators. Investment in LNG is a cost-effective and sustainable way to respond to society’s demand for greener fuel alternatives and a cleaner future . So, what does that mean for fuel station operators and gas companies?
LNG as a mainstream fuel
Demand for LNG as a transport fuel is stronger than ever and this is no niche market for LIQAL; developing the technology to supply LNG as a mainstream road transport fuel is front and centre to everything they do.
LNG refuelling is more complex than standard diesel fuel delivery through a pump and dispenser. Natural gas must first be cooled to a temperature of -162°C before the gas liquefies and reduces in volume. It is brought to an LNG fuelling station in its liquid state and stored onsite. The process plant delivers the LNG to the LNG-powered trucks at precisely the right conditions. The LNG is delivered though LIQAL’s dispensers with an integrated heated and purged nozzle docking bay. This docking bay ensures tension-free connection and user-friendly decoupling of the nozzles to and from LNG-powered vehicles.
The process requires specific experience and know-how. Fuelling systems are complex to design, build and operate. They must be able to simultaneously unload LNG in the storage tank and refuel trucks. And this refuelling must be done in accordance with recommended truck requirements to ensure a consistent fuelling experience based on correct conditions such as pressure and temperature.
As new LNG trucks arrive on the market, like the Volvo FH, it is vital that operators can deliver the right refuelling conditions for each truck type. LIQAL’s small-scale LNG systems enable the supply of both saturated and cold LNG to effectively fill all available LNG trucks.
LIQAL actively focus on the small-scale LNG market, developing systems that are fully automated, safe, robust, cost-effective and flexible. Their proven boil-off gas re-liquefaction technology ensures an unlimited holding time of LNG in the storage tank at an optimum and predictable total cost of ownership.
There are currently around 300 LNG fuelling stations across Europe. Some of these are owned by existing station owners such as the major oil and gas companies. Others are run by regional oil traders that already have existing energy supplies. The rest are not specifically fuel suppliers but businesses that see an opportunity in LNG.
LIQAL work with a wide variety of partners and it is this diversity that gives them experience in all segments. They supply the know-how to integrate LNG systems into an existing station such as the Energy Hub at Borne. LIQAL recently supplied LNG and CNG dispensers and a micro liquefaction unit for BOG management for this state of the art multifuel station near the German border run by fuel supplier DCB Energy.
LIQAL also develop skid-mounted LNG refuelling stations that offer station operators the flexibility of a re-locatable system with lower investment requirements for both fuelling equipment and onsite project preparations. MRU systems are prefabricated and transportable and comply with the latest international standards .
Scalability and lower costs
Scalability is an important factor when developing refuelling stations. Scalable ‘plug and play’ options allow clients to quickly expand capacity based on demand. LIQAL have several projects on the go to install additional fuel dispensers. One recent project involved the retrofit of a second LNG dispenser at an existing LNG fuelling system run by Drive Systems at Tessenderlo in Belgium. This fully automated station has a storage capacity of 80,000 litres. Low life cycle costs offer versatility and future-proof expansion, as well as lower total cost of ownership.
Remote Performance Management
Station aftercare plays a critical role after the commissioning works according to Joost Jansen, Business Development Manager: “There is no ‘sell and forget’ mentality at LIQAL and we remain involved in the project to keep the station up and running for our customers. Remote performance is managed by our skilled staff via our advanced SCADA system that also includes a real-time station KPI dashboard and LNG logistic planning feature for our clients.” Customer Support engineers use the data to keep an eye on fuelling performance and ensure a reliable and consistent fuelling experience.
LIQAL uniquely provide this full service and maintenance system for the technical operation of the stations. Fully automated systems mean than station owners don’t need to be actively involved and can rely on the experts at LIQAL to actively manage operations.
LNG is a crucial step forward on the road to decarbonisation, but it is not the final destination. The LNG industry must also move towards more sustainable variants such as bio-LNG.
LIQAL develop advanced micro liquefaction technology for bio-LNG with a production capacity up to 20 tons per day. Bio-LNG is produced from organic waste and biomass and is perfectly aligned with the transition to a low-carbon transport sector. Trucks powered by bio-LNG have a close to 100% decrease in tank-to-wheel CO2 emissions compared to diesel .
The main fuel companies have invested in LNG stations all around Europe and geographical expansion is the next phase for the LNG industry and LIQAL alike.
By the end of the year LIQAL will be taking their first steps out of the Benelux area and into new territories such as the UK, Italy, Denmark and Germany. Partnering with qualified local companies to develop local markets and offer turnkey technical solutions including after-care is paramount for LIQAL. Joost says: “We like to team up with strategic partners who are active and experienced in their country, and who can support sales, full installation and maintenance activities at a local level – a global service, performed locally.”
LIQAL have recently started a partnership with Kosan Crisplant based in Denmark. The two companies will work together to supply turnkey LNG fuelling solutions for UK and Denmark markets. Hydrogen solutions are also planned for the future. The advantage of such collaborations is that customers only have to place one order for everything from project preparations through to installation and the unique aftersales full-service plan.