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 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.
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID14517 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in this invention.