Propane-air, Synthetic Natural Gas, SNG, Propane Blending System, Standby System, Peak Shaving System are all common names in our industry for the application, process or end product that occurs when Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG or propane) is blended with air. Let's call it for this article's sake Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG), because that is really what it is by definition.
SNG is a direct replacement for natural gas. In composition, SNG is a blend of LPG and air. The ratio of LPG to air will vary depending on the Wobbe Value required to match the energy value of the gas it is replacing.
SNG applications are many, but the main applications in our industry are:
SNG Backup Systems- allow Industrial gas customers to change from "firm" to an "interruptable" natural gas rate structure, providing significant savings.
SNG Peak Shaving Systems of Natural Gas- used by Natural Gas companies and Industrial clients to augment their Natural Gas demand during peak demand periods.
SNG Base-Load Systems- used in areas where Natural Gas is currently unavailable, providing a bridge fuel or a long-term solution for an energy need.
Making SNG. There are five basic steps for making SNG:
1. You need two ingredients: LPG (propane) and air.
2. A pump is needed to pump liquid propane from the storage tank to the vaporizer at an elevated pressure.
3. At the vaporizer, liquid propane is heated until it becomes vapor.
4. Propane vapor and air are blended at a ratio of approximately 55:45, this mixture is SNG
5. Lastly the SNG needs to be discharged into the existing natural gas line and into the plant.
These steps are obviously over-simplified. For more specific information on SNG systems for Standby or Peak Shaving applications, please contact a Propane-air/SNG specialist at TransTech Energy www.transtechenergy.com
Building a new bulk propane plant? Upgrading your existing bulk plant storage capacity? Installing a standby or peak shaving propane-air/SNG plant? Should you be buying a new or used propane storage tank? Below are few things you should consider when making the decision to purchase a bulk propane storage tank.
Safety factor better with older tanks:
As the price of steel has continued to increase over time, the Federal Government has allowed tanks to be built with thinner steel. Over time we have seen the safety factor reduced from the original safety factor, 5 to 1, down to 4 to 1, and then again to 3.5 to 1 for new tanks. So basically older tanks even the 200psig U68 and U69 code tanks are considerably thicker and produced to a higher safety factor than brand new tanks. This is one reason many people consider buying a used propane storage tank versus a new one
Propane Storage Tanks that have a National Board Number either on their Data Plate or stamped in the steel are able to have paperwork obtained, referred to as the U1A Data report, which is basically a birth certificate of the tank detailing the material used, original openings, manufacturer , inspectors, dates, pressure test, certifications, and so on. These tanks are able to be placed back into service in most states and other countries due to their ability to have paperwork produced.
Today's "green movement" reminds us all to reduce, reuse and recycle. Purchasing a used propane storage tank versus a new one not only saves the customer money, it is also a large form of recycling and being "Green" as the steel is reused without exhausting the energy required to lift, transport, purge out all vapors, cut up, melt, and many times to ship the steel out of the country only to be sent back over to the US using more energy.
Turnaround time and freight costs
Ordering a new bulk propane storage tank requires planning and often times a waiting period of several weeks or months for the tank to be built and delivered. It has also recently been the case that the final price of the tanks is not known until they are built and a steel "Surcharge" is then placed on top of the tank price which is normally thousands of dollars. The location the new tank is shipped from may not be conveniently located to your plant site and freight costs can be very high. Often times you can find a used bulk storage tank near your plant site, buy it immediately and save thousands on freight costs, due to its proximity to your site.
More bang for your buck
For anyone who has priced a new tank the savings is well known, as well as the time often spent waiting for a new tank to be built for your project. New propane storage tanks are often 50% to 100% more costly than used propane tanks. These percentages can grow during times of large steel price increases.
How to determine the proper amount of storage you require?
A qualified Commercial Propane /SNG Contractor will be able to determine the space and distance requirement s needed for the size and quantity of propane tanks needed for any project. As well as the number of tanks that are allowed to be in a group and the distance required between the groups of propane tanks.
The installation of new or used propane bulk storage tanks verses domestic propane tanks will allow the consumer to purchase transport loads of gas which is on average about 9,000 gallons or more in some states where the transports are allowed by the Department of Transportation to be larger. In most cases this greatly reduces the cost of propane as the dealer does not have to handle the product twice by first having transport deliver it to their bulk storage tank and then utilize their bobtail delivery truck and driver to bring a smaller amount to a domestic tank. There is also a reduction in insurance costs to the dealer when the propane is sent directly to the end user and does not run through their propane storage tank which plays a part in the reduction in cost to the consumer.
To properly size propane tanks, as well as propane liquid and or vapor piping, a commercial propane or SNG contractor will need to know the maximum BTU load that a consumer will require. This would be the combined maximum load of all the equipment and appliances that a facility has - meaning the maximum consumption of BTUs per hour of each appliance. This will tell us what size propane tank is required as well as any vaporizer and or blender system that may be needed to provide adequate propane or SNG (Synthetic Natural Gas).
It may be wise to consider the possibility of future growth and need for more propane at your operation rather than size a propane system to meet the current needs, or at least try and permit for future storage to be added and have this added to any submitted drawings. Having more capacity also gives the consumer more buying power and the ability to save money during times when propane may be priced lower. This additional storage may also give the consumer the ability to ride out tough demand times and high gas prices saving even more money and alleviating the stress of paying higher prices and time spent locating hard to acquire peak demand propane.
For more assistance with your propane storage requirements please fill free to contact the propane storage experts at TransTech Energy. TransTech Energy sells new and used propane storage tank systems and provide design, engineering and bulk plant construction services. With more than 50 years of experience in propane storage systems, TransTech Energy has one of the largest used propane storage tank inventories in the US. Visit our website today at www.transtechenergy.com or call our office at 888-206-4563. Not all inventory is shown on the website as TransTech Energy is constantly acquiring additional used propane tanks and equipment.
TransTech Energy also purchases underutilized or decommissioned tanks and plants, please contact us today for a tank or plant acquisition appraisal.