An apparatus and method for producing liquefied natural gas. A liquefaction plant may be coupled to a source of unpurified natural gas, such as a natural gas pipeline at a pressure letdown station. A portion of the gas is drawn off and split into a process stream and a cooling stream. The cooling stream passes through a turbo expander creating work output. A compressor is driven by the work output and compresses the process stream. The compressed process stream is cooled, such as by the expanded cooling stream. The cooled, compressed process stream is divided into first and second portions with the first portion being expanded to liquefy the natural gas. A gas-liquid separator separates the vapor from the liquid natural gas. The second portion of the cooled, compressed process stream is also expanded and used to cool the compressed process stream. Additional features and techniques may be integrated with the liquefaction process including a water clean-up cycle and a carbon dioxide (CO.sub.2) clean-up cycle.
The United States Government has certain rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC07-99ID13727, and Contract No. DE-AC0799ID13727 between the U.S. Department of Energy and Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC.