NORTH TOWANDA TOWNSHIP — A company based in Ulysses, Pa., is planning to construct a facility in Bradford County that will cool locally produced natural gas to its liquid form, so that it can be used as a fuel in the long-range trucking industry.
The plant, which REV LNG Inc. of Ulysses will construct off Dolan Road in Herrick Township, will produce up to 50,000 gallons a day of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the company’s chief executive officer, David Kailbourne, told the Bradford County Planning Commission at its most recent meeting.
The amount of LNG that the plant will produce will be much less than is typically produced at other LNG production facilities, Kailbourne said.
The plant in Herrick Township will be “one of the first of its kind,” Kailbourne said. LNG plants exist “all over the country, but on a larger scale,” he said.
No other plants that produce LNG exist in Bradford County, said Sarah Reichard, Bradford County planner.
REV LNG, which owns tanker trucks that transport LNG, “is an LNG distribution company, that is very much like a propane distribution company,” Kailbourne told the Planning Commission.
“We distribute LNG to 18-wheel trucking fleets (owned by other companies) and to drilling rigs,” he said. Currently, the company supplies LNG to more than a dozen drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale that operate using LNG as a fuel, he said.
Up to five tanker trucks would transport LNG from the Herrick Township facility each day, he said.
While compressed natural gas (CNG) is appropriate for buses and delivery trucks that are traveling relatively short distances, long-range trucking companies are attracted to LNG because their vehicles can use it to travel longer distances with fewer fuel storage tanks on board, he said.
There are currently eight plants east of the Mississippi River where REV LNG can purchase LNG, he said. However, during the winter months, it is difficult to purchase LNG from the plants, since the utility companies that own the plants need extra natural gas themselves to heat their customers’ homes, he said.
The plant in Herrick Township would give REV LNG its own source of LNG to sell to its customers and guarantee that the company will have the fuel available year-round to sell to its customers, he said.
The LNG plant in Herrick Township will be “the first firm, uninterruptable supply of LNG east of Indianapolis and north of Birmingham, Ala.,” Kailbourne said.
Southwestern Energy will supply the Herrick Township plant using a 3-inch pipeline, Kailbourne said. The natural gas that would be supplied to the plant would come from Southwestern’s system of gathering pipelines that transport gas from local gas wells, he said.
The Herrick Township plant will cool the natural gas to 260 degrees below zero so that it condenses to its liquid form, he said.
The facility will have storage tanks to hold the LNG, although the amount that will be stored on site will be only a fraction of the amount that is typically stored at an LNG production facility, he said. REV LNG will either have two 132-foot-long, 12-foot-wide storage tanks on site, each of which would hold 100,000 gallons of LNG, or else four tanks that would be half that size, he said.
The Herrick Township facility will be remotely monitored 24 hours a day, and is designed to be unmanned, he said. However, initially, it will probably be staffed with three employees during the day and two at night, he said.
After the first year, the facility will probably be unmanned, he said.
REV LNG has received an $800,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection to help pay for the plant, he said.
Many of REV LNG’s own trucks operate on LNG, he said.
“We have the third largest LNG fleet on the Eastern Seaboard,” Kailbourne said. REV LNG has logged “over 7 million safe driving miles” using its LNG-fueled trucks, he said.
LNG, in its liquid form, is “non-toxic, non-corrosive, and not carcinogenic,” Kailbourne said. “It will not explode or ignite.”
However, under specific conditions, the vapor given off by LNG could ignite, although the heat source that would ignite the vapor would have to be hotter than 1,200 degrees, he said. A spark or cigarette would not be able to ignite the vapor given off by LNG, he said.
Over the last 40 years, there has never been a loss of life in the LNG production industry, he said, adding, “No other industry (that produces fuel) can say that.”
LNG has been in use since the 1950s, he said.
Twenty percent of the utilities in the northeastern United States use LNG as a backup fuel, he said.
The “vast majority” of LNG produced by the Herrick Township plant “will get consumed in Pennsylvania,” he said.
In addition to trucks and drilling rigs, there are locomotive engines and ships that are fueled by LNG, he said.
“There are over 150 vessels (boats) that run on LNG in Europe,” he said. “There are none in the United States, but over 30 are on order.”
LNG-fueled trucks have less air emissions and are quieter than diesel-fueled trucks, he said. LNG also costs 30 percent less than diesel fuel, he said.
REV LNG is planning to lease about two acres of land for its facility, he said.
In order to construct the plant, REV LNG will need land development and subdivision permits from the Bradford County Planning Commission, an air emission permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, and a storm water and erosion control permit.
The REV LNG facility would be a “mobile solution” that could be moved at some point to another location, Kailbourne said. However, REV LNG does not plan on moving the facility for at least the next five years, he said.
The lease for the property is for a five-year minimum, with two optional five-year extensions that would be based on the amount of gas that will continue to be available from Southwestern, he said.
REV LNG is planning to construct other LNG production facilities elsewhere in Pennsylvania, but the Herrick Township facility will be the first to become operational.