Liquefied natural gas is the liquid form of the natural gas people use in their homes for heating and cooking. About 113 active LNG facilities are located in the United States. Most are used for storing natural gas for wintertime use. LNG provides a safe and efficient way of transporting natural gas over long distances, particularly from gas-producing nations with insufficient pipeline infrastructures.
Technology for chilling and liquefying natural gas emerged in the 1920s. Engineers liquefy natural gas by cooling it to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Liquefying natural gas allows for much more efficient storage. In its liquid state, 600 standard cubic feet of natural gas take up only 1 cubic foot of space, making it economical to transport between continents in specially designed ocean tanker ships. This LNG is then stored in insulated tanks, such as those at Dominion Cove Point.
Dominion Cove Point stores LNG at near atmospheric pressure in reinforced insulated tanks. The tanks consist of an aluminum or nickel inner tank surrounded by about 4 feet of insulation, which is contained by an outer steel tank. Currently, Dominion Cove Point re-gasifies the LNG for transportation through natural gas pipelines.
To export LNG, Dominion will reverse this process, by receiving natural gas transported through pipelines, liquefying the natural gas, then loading a ship so that it can be transported for travel overseas.