Compressed Natural Gas Portable Pipelines

Source: EMR-ISAC

High prices of propane and fuel oil are pushing some businesses to convert to natural gas, currently seeing a production boom in the United States. Businesses using bulk amounts of fuel see a sizable drop in their costs after they switch; their major hurdle is getting access to natural gas if there is no pipeline system nearby.

One answer is a Portable Pipeline, sometimes called a Virtual Pipeline. Trucks are used to take compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from supply sites to storage and decompression or vaporization sites, after which they can be used by business and industry.

A new type of transport truck is very concerning to first responders. The trucks have four 38-foot DOT Type IV long cylinders, but they are covered with walls and from the outside look like a regular tractor trailer box truck. Though the truck is correctly placarded, at first glance the truck might not be identified as a Hazardous Material-hauling vehicle. Other considerations on Portable Pipelines for first responders:

  • These trucks can carry 355,000+ standard cubic feet of pressurized gas;
  • During an activation of the module safety system, all four cylinders will vent simultaneously from vent piping at the top rear of the trailer;
  • Venting cannot be stopped and can take 45-60 minutes to vent completely.

The full life cycle of the Portable Pipeline process and other safety considerations for first responders can be seen in greater detail in the White Paper available on the Portable-Pipelines web site. Currently these trucks are used in South Carolina, with a majority in the New England area. The potential is there for Virtual Pipelines to go nationwide, especially with the current fuel cost and availability climate.

(Source: Lebanon (NH) Fire Department)