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Open Rack Vaporizer

An Open Rack Vaporizer (ORV) is a heat exchanger that uses seawater as the source of heat.
The preferred seawater temperature for ORV operation is above 5C.
ORV units are generally constructed of aluminum alloy for mechanical strength suitable to
operate at the cryogenic temperature. The material has high thermal conductivity which is
effective for heat transfer equipment. The tubes are arranged in panels, connected through the
LNG inlet and the regasified product outlet piping manifolds and hung from a rack (Figure 1).
The panels are coated externally with zinc alloy, providing corrosion protection against seawater.
Open rack vaporizers (ORV) use seawater as the thermal energy source in a direct heat
system to vaporize the LNG. To control algae growth within the system, sodium
hypochlorite (chlorine) is injected on the intake side of the system. The treated seawater
is then pumped to the top of the water box and travels down along the outer surface of the
tube heat exchanger panels, while LNG flows upward through these tubes and
is vaporized.4 The cooled seawater collects in a basin under the open rack vaporizer and
is discharged through the water outfall, while the vaporized natural gas is removed from
the top header of the system. Because this technology relies on seawater as the primary
heat source, it is only effective where seawater temperatures exceed approximately 63
degrees Fahrenheit.

Open rack vaporizer technology requires large volumes of water, which could adversely
affect marine life.
The cooled and treated seawater that is returned to the ocean could potentially affect
marine life and water quality.
Although the ORVs do not directly produce air pollution emissions, powering the
seawater pumps
For large regasification terminals where significant amounts of water are required, in-depth
evaluation and assessment of the seawater system must be performed. the key issues and design
parameter must be established early in the project, such as:
Is the seawater quality suitable for operating an ORV system?
Does the seawater containing significant amounts of heavy metal ions? These ions will attack
the zinc aluminum alloy coating and will shorten its life.
Does the seawater contain significant amount of sand and suspended solids? Excessive
sediment will cause jamming of the water trough and the tube panel. Proper seawater intake
filtration system must be designed to prevent silts, sands and sea life from reaching the seawater
pumps and exchangers.
The design must consider the environmental impacts of the seawater intake and outfall system,
and minimize the destruction of marine life during the construction period and normal plant
Chlorination of the seawater is necessary to slow down marine growth. However, residual
chlorine in the seawater effluent can impact the marine life and the usage must be minimized.
Seawater discharge temperature must comply with local regulation. The temperature drop of
seawater is typically limited to 5C in most locations.
Location of the seawater intake and outfall must be studied to avoid cold seawater
If site is located in a cold climate region, supplementary heating may be necessary to maintain
the outlet gas temperature. Boiloff gas from LNG storage tanks can be used as fuel to these
Is a backup vaporization system provided? This may be necessary during partial shutdown of
the seawater system or during peaking demand operation.

Is the regasification facility located close to a waste heat source, such as a power plant? Heat
integration using waste heat can reduce regasification duty and would minimize the
environmental impacts.

Submerged Combustion Vaporizer

A typical SCV system is shown in Figure 2. LNG flows through a stainless steel tube coil
that is submerged in a water bath which is heated by direct contact with hot flue gases
from a submerged gas burner. Flue gases are sparged into the water using a distributor
located under the heat transfer tubes. The sparging action promotes turbulence resulting
in a high heat transfer rate and a high thermal efficiency (over 98%). The turbulence also
reduces deposits or scales that can build up on the heat transfer surface.
The bath water is acidic as the combustion gas products (CO2) are condensed in the
water. Caustic chemical such as sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate can be added
to the bath water to control the pH value and to protect the tubes against corrosion.
To minimize the NOx emissions, low NOx burners can be used to meet the 40 ppm NOx
limit. The NOx level can be further reduced by using a Selective Catalytic Reduction
(SCR) system to meet the 5 ppm specification if more stringent emission requirements
are needed, at a significant cost impact.


Since the thermal capacity of the water bath is high, itis possible to maintain a stable
operation even for suddenstart-ups/shutdowns and rapid load fluctuations.
SCV is very reliable and have very good safety records.

Leakage of gas can be quickly detected by hydrocarbon detectors which will result in a
plant shutdown.
There is no danger of explosion, due to the fact that the temperature of the water bath
always stays below the ignition point of natural gas.
SCVs are compact and do not require much plot area when compared to the other
vaporizer options.
The submerged combustion vaporizer system produces large quantities of air emissions
from the flue gas. This can be reduced through exhaust gas control technology, but adds
significant operating costs to the SCV system.
The controls for the submerged combustion vaporizers are more complex when compared
to the open rack vaporizers (ORV).
During operation, SCVs consume anywhere from 1.5 to 2.0 percent of the LNG cargo to
fuel the combustion burner, which is a significant operating cost.

Ambient Air Vaporizers

The approaches can be categorized into two basic methods for recovering low level heat
from ambient air. They are indirect contact and direct contact.
1)Direct Contact Ambient Air Technologies
Ambient air vaporization (AAV) technology uses ambient air as the thermal
energy source to vaporize theliquefied natural gas. The LNG is distributed
througha series of surface heat exchangerswarm ambient air enters from the top of
the exchanger, exchanges heat directly to the cold LNG flowing in the specialized
finned tubes tovaporize LNG. The air is cooled and flows downward along the
outside of the finned tubes and leaves from the bottom of the exchanger.
The air flowis controlled on the outside of the exchanger throughnatural
buoyancy of the cooled, dense air, or by installingforced-draft air fans.
Frost forming on the vaporizer is an issue because the LNG is vaporized directly
against the air (direct heat system) andit cools air reaches its dew point and starts
to condense waters. Frost build-up reduces performanceand heat transfer. Deicing
or Defrosting is necessaryto avoid dense ice buildup on the surface of the heat
exchanger tubes.In order to maintain the overall availability of the LNG vaporizer
capacity, additional units are installed to overcome vaporizer regeneration
activityThe use of force draft fans can reduce the defrosting time but would
require additional fan horsepower.
The performance of ambient air vaporizers depends on the LNG inlet and outlet
conditions and more importantly the site conditions and environment factors, such

ambient temperature, relative humidity, altitude, wind, solar radiation, and

proximity to adjacent structures.

Finned tubes showing heat transfer mechanism

AAV technology is best suited forareas with warmer ambient temperatures
Since the AAV technology typically burns natural gas only for
supplementalheating during colder months, air emissions overall are relatively
low compared to the other vaporization technologies.
Overall thermal efficiency is still significantly higher and provides much higher
overall fuel savings compared to indirect contact vaporizertechnologies.
Depending on geographical locations (such asareas with high dew points) cooling
the ambient air can generate a fog bank.
In cooler climates, a supplemental heat system would be necessary to maintain
effective use during colder weather conditions.
2) Indirect Contact Ambient Air Technologies
This LNG vaporizing via intermediate fluid utilizes Heat Transfer Fluid in a closed loop
to transfer heat to vaporize LNG.
Types of Intermittent Fluids
Three types of Heat Transfer Fluids are typically utilized for LNG vaporization:
Hydrocarbon Based HTF (Propane, Butane or Mixed Refrigerant)
Hot Water
Although propane and refrigerant have low flash points thatare ideal for heat transfer, the
operationalrisks are much higher whenhandling these types of fluids, and these fluids are
verycostly. The water/glycol mixture has a high flash point,requiring a larger heat
transfer area, which results in alarger system than the propane or refrigerant systems.
However, the water/glycol fluid system is more cost effective and the associate
operational risks are relativelylow.
An IFV typically uses a shell and tube heat exchanger, where LNG flows
through the tubes with the intermediate heating medium circulating inside the
shell and around the tubes. There are two stages to heating the LNG with an
intermediate fluid vaporizer. First the liquefied natural gas is heated by an
intermediate fluid in a heat exchanger, in which the LNG becomes a gas Then the
vaporized natural gas is circulated through a second shell and tube heat
exchanger, with seawater as the heating medium used to bring the gas to the
temperature required to send it out through pipelines foruse. An IFV system that
uses the water/glycol mixture is considered a safer way to operate.

Higher humidity and higher air temperatureenhances the overall performance of

the system.The process produces significant amount of water due to the
condensation of moisture from the air providing additional heat input to the

Air-Fin Exchanger Based LNG Re-Gasification System

IFV LNG Vaporizer

Shell & Tube Vaporizers

Shell and tube vaporizers (STV) also use seawater as the thermal energy source. In an open-loop
STV system, LNG enters the bottom of the STV, which is mounted vertically to optimize
vaporization efficiency. The liquefied natural gas passes through multiple tubes while seawater
enters a shell surrounding the tubes.
A closed-loop system uses an intermediate fluid (such as propane or a water/glycol mixture) to
transfer heat. The intermediate fluid flows through tubes in separate heating equipment (such as
a propulsion boiler) to absorb heat, then the fluid passes through the STV unit to re-gasify the
LNG. Since there are two heat exchangers, this requires a large amount of space.
The open-loop technology reduces air emissions, since there is no combustion. Further, these
STVs are generally small. Conversely, since the open-loop system uses seawater as the thermal
energy source, there are environmental issues similar to the ORV system.
The optimum choice of an LNG vaporization system is determined by the terminals site
selection, the environmental conditions, regulatory limitations and operability considerations.
The following table compares the six vaporizer options in term of their applications, operation
and maintenance, utility and chemical requirements, environmental impacts and relative plot
Warm ambient locations:
In warm ambient locations, for site locations in equatorial zone, where site ambient temperature
stays above 18C, the ambient air vaporizers or the air heated intermediate fluid type vaporizer
units can provide the full LNG vaporization duty without trim heating. In addition, there is
potential revenue to be gained by collecting and marketing the water condensate from the air.
Cold ambient locations:
In cold ambient locations for site locations in sub equatorial zones, where site ambient
temperature drops below 18C, heating medium systems using seawater or air may not be able to
meet the vaporization duty and pipeline gas temperature. When the site ambient temperature is
below 18C, external heating may be required for all options and supplemental heating integrated
with SCV or FH must be provided during the winter months.
In cold climate operation, the use of seawater heating in combination with SCV ranks the most
Operating with Low Temperature Seawater
When seawater drops during winter, ORVs can continue to operate but at a reduced rate, as long
as the freezing temperature of seawater (typically at -1.5C) has not been reached. Using the
propane as the intermediate fluid, performance of the IFV can be maintained even when the
seawater temperature drops to 5C. The unit can continue to operate down to 1C seawater
temperature, but with a much reduced LNG throughput. The reduction in LNG throughput versus
seawater temperature drop is almost linear as shown in Figure 7. The exit gas from the IFV
exchanger can be trim heated using the standby fired heater or SCVs.