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Box-shaped LNG container showcased in Pohang, South Korea

24th March 2014

An LNG container designed to maximise storage space was showcased in the South Korean city of Pohang on Friday by research university, KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).

LNG container
The Kaist prototype box-shaped LNG container

A prototype box-shaped LNG container designed to maximise storage space was showcased in the South Korean city of Pohang on Friday by research university, KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).

This is the first ever deviation from the typically cylindrical or spherical shaped vessels that were thought to be the only safe design. Box-shaped containers were believed incapable of withstanding the massive pressures of LNG.

The research team at KAIST has been working in partnership with Korean construction and engineering company POSCO E&C to develop the innovative design. It will meet all current regulations regarding the safe storage and transportation of liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas.

The new design could potentially equate to USD 8.4m worth of extra storage space a year on a 13,000 TEU container ship.

"If we use cylindrical pressure vessels to supply LNG fuel for a large container ship, for example, many fuel tanks will be needed. Those tanks will take up large and valuable space onboard because the cylinders have to be lined up. In our case, however, much less space is needed. The operation of a ship becomes simpler with one fuel tank rather than with many. Furthermore, our box-type pressure vessel can be designed with dimensions that precisely fit a ship. For a container ship, there may be room for a substantially higher number of containers to be loaded than when using cylindrical vessels," commented Daejun Chang, KAIST professor of Ocean Systems Engineering.

A lattice-shaped inner structure and high-manganese steel (developed by POSCO) allow for the massive pressure and cryogenic temperatures of LNG to be contained within the unorthodox design.

The prismatic pressure vessel on show was a scaled down version of the intended product, with a volume size of 80 m3 and design pressure of 10 atmospheres.

Pal G. Bergen, another KAIST professor, has said: "Our box-type pressure vessel represents ground-breaking research. This innovative technology will dramatically change the rules of the game for industry concerning production, transportation, and storage of fluids under high pressure and at low temperatures."

The design complies with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (BPVC), the international standard for the appropriateness of design, fabrication, and inspection of boilers and pressure vessels. It passed the 15 pressure testing in January 2014 and received an accreditation from the ASME BPVC (ASME U2 Stamp).

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