In a natural gas liquefaction system having a refrigerant storage circuit, a refrigerant circulation circuit in fluid communication with the refrigerant storage circuit, and a natural gas liquefaction circuit in thermal communication with the refrigerant circulation circuit, a method for liquefaction of natural gas in which pressure in the refrigerant circulation circuit is adjusted to below about 175 psig by exchange of refrigerant with the refrigerant storage circuit. A variable speed motor is started whereby operation of a compressor is initiated. The compressor is operated at full discharge capacity. Operation of an expansion valve is initiated whereby suction pressure at the suction pressure port of the compressor is maintained below about 30 psig and discharge pressure at the discharge pressure port of the compressor is maintained below about 350 psig. Refrigerant vapor is introduced from the refrigerant holding tank into the refrigerant circulation circuit until the suction pressure is reduced to below about 15 psig, after which flow of the refrigerant vapor from the refrigerant holding tank is terminated. Natural gas is then introduced into a natural gas liquefier, resulting in liquefaction of the natural gas.
The U.S. Government has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided for by the terms of Contract No. DE-AC02-99CH10978 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.