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 an expander creating work output. A compressor may be 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 expanded to liquefy the natural gas. A gas-liquid separator separates a vapor from the liquid natural gas. A portion of the liquid gas is used for additional cooling. Gas produced within the system may be recompressed for reintroduction into a receiving line or recirculation within the system for further processing.
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC07-051D14517 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in this invention.