Sept 2011 – North American Clean Energy


Capturing Wasted Energy from Natural Gas

by: Chris Cote
Sept 2011
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There is enough energy currently being wasted in the United State at gas pressure reduction stations to power about 10 million homes—and for mere pennies. So, why aren’t we using it?

Much natural gas is found in remote or distant regions (like Canada), and needs to travel thousands of miles from the wellhead to more populated areas (like Southern California) where gas consumers live. An elaborate 272,000+-mile natural gas pipeline grid pushes gas downstream using compressor stations every 40 to 100 miles or so. Compression stations are used to increase the pressure, often to a linepack of 1,000 psi to 1,750 psi. Energy in the form of enthalpy is contained in this highly pressurized gas.

As the gas nears populated areas, however, this tremendous pressure needs to be reduced to acceptable levels, and eventually to as low as 1/4 psi for residential use. That’s where letdown stations come into play (also known as citygates, gate stations, farm taps, or reducing stations, etc.). Though a necessary part of the process, it’s the series of letdown stations in the distribution system where all the potential energy from pressure is wasted due to the use of reduction-throttling valves.

The Challenges

This wasted energy isn’t a new discovery. Many attempts have been made to capture wasted energy with turboexpanders, a complex centrifugal or axial flow turbine. Turboexpanders were originally designed for other applications and have been used for over a century but, in the 1980s, axial flow turbines were placed in natural gas pipelines between the high-pressure and low-pressure pipes. As the gas flows from the high-pressure pipe into the turboexpander, it spins the turbine, which in turn spins a generator to produce electricity. By replacing a conventional control valve or regulator with a turboexpander, the energy in the pressure of the high-pressure gas (or the enthalpy) that would otherwise be lost, can be converted to electricity. Simultaneously, the turboexpander reduces the pressure of the gas for the local gas network.

The challenges associated with utilizing turboexpanders in the natural gas pipeline letdown stations are primarily cost related. For one, the equipment must be custom-engineered for each specific application. Turboexpanders are complex machines that generally operate efficiently in a specific band of flow-rate volume. Efficient sizing of the turboexpander requires an analysis of seasonal flow-rate fluctuations. Maintaining a turboexpander is also relatively expensive as the delicate, rapidly spinning blades can be damaged by moisture or foreign elements. Perhaps, most significantly, the capital cost doesn’t increase proportionally with the expected output. The larger the output, the lower the cost on a per-kilowatt basis. Therefore, an acceptable payback can only be obtained at the higher pressure stations—those which are furthest from the cities. Yet, a huge part of the unharnessed energy is found closer to the cities at smaller letdown stations.

In 1983, San Diego Gas and Electric attempted to recover this energy with a turboexpander, as did other companies in later attempts in other states. Even many European companies, including the owner of most of the UK’s gas pipeline network (the National Grid), have or have considered installing turbine generating systems, but couldn’t justify the cost to capture this wasted energy without being subsidized. More complicated systems with fuel cells have been tried in Canada but, once again, the cost was just too great.

The Benefits
Giving up is one option, however, the benefits of utilizing the wasted energy at gas reduction stations are compelling and numerous—particularly from an environmental stance. Not only is the energy readily available and cheap (assuming there’s a cost-effective way to capture it), but it’s a form of baseload power that’s available 24/7, rain or shine. It’s the epitome of distributed energy: located where the need is the greatest, both close to and in cities. Moreover, no fuel is used to generate this energy; it’s simply the pressure from the gas. So, there are no emissions and no CO2.

Another potential by-product of using such wasted energy to generate electricity is the creation of extreme cooling—which can be a challenge at gas letdown stations, but would be a huge benefit to end users of gas further down the distribution line (such as manufacturers who can use the cooling to eliminate air conditioners).

The Solution
The good news is that when there’s a need, often and eventually there is a way. Thanks to dedicated innovators and engineers, equipment has recently been commercialized that solves the challenges of the turboexpander. One solution is an extremely robust expander with very low RPMs (1/5th the speed of turboexpanders) that is highly efficient, simple, flexible & easy to install. This equipment allows gases, dry or wet steam, hot water, impurities & contaminates directly into the machine without hurting the machine. It allows changes in flow rates and pressure so it is flexible enough to allow one design to handle multiple applications. The initial cost of under $2,000/kW is lower than the cost of turbo systems and the operating cost of less than 25 cents/kW is substantially lower than the cost of operating a turbo system. It’s also flexible enough to use either a synchronous or an induction generator. And, as a direct-expansion device, the generator isn’t limited to gas, and may be designed for various applications, including natural gas letdown, wet or dry steam, geothermal liquid/vapor, as well as hot air and hot exhaust gas streams.

Simply search online for “gas letdown generators,” to find viable solutions other than turboexpanders available to capture wasted energy. Some are even worth the cost. Langson Energy has a prototype running in its R&D shop in Carson City, NV. With new, economical technology available, wasted energy no longer has to be wasted when it comes to gas pressure reduction systems—or other systems.

Jun 2011 – Mr. Langson presents at SMU Conference

Nevada Inventor Richard Langson Presented at the SMU Conference on Geothermal Energy Utilization Associated with Oil & Gas Development

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Carson City, NV (June 21, 2011) – Richard Langson, President/Founder of Langson Energy, spoke at the SMU Conference on Geothermal Energy Utilization Associated with Oil & Gas Development, in Dallas on June 15. This focused two-day conference brought together leaders from both business and research to discuss specific issues relevant to expanding geothermal electrical production in oil and gas fields. Langson will discuss how the “disruptive technology” behind Langson Energy’s Total Flow Gas Letdown Generator provides an efficient alternative that makes use of wasted energy in natural gas pipelines at pressure let-down stations, converting the let-down pressure into usable electricity for a mere 1/4 cent per kW.

These Total Flow Generators can also utilize the pressure in geothermal wells and the tremendous pressure in the millions of capped and abandoned oil and gas wells to generate power at the same low costs. Much of the high costs associated with drilling geothermal wells can be eliminated at abandoned oil and gas wells.

Apr 2011 – Langson presents at Western Gas Management School in Spokane

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Carson City, NV (April 29, 2011) – Don Langson, VP Project Development, of Langson Energy, spoke at the Western Gas Management School April 25-28, in Spokane, Washington. During his presentation to gas industry personnel from throughout the western United States, Langson discussed how at gas pressure let-down stations and city gates, natural gas, which is traditionally directed through pressure reduction valves to achieve lower pressures on it’s way to the consumers, can be redirected through the Langson Energy Total Flow Generator to produce electric power from the previously wasted kinetic energy in the flowing gas. He went on to explain how Langson Energy’s Total Flow Gas Letdown Generator, provides an efficient alternative that makes use of the wasted kinetic energy, converting the kinetic energy in the flowing natural gas into usable electricity for a mere 1/4 cent per kW.

For more information on Langson and the Total Flow Gas Letdown Generator, visit www.LangsonEnergy.com.

Apr 2011 – Gas Letdown Generator presented at GasTech 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Langson Energy’s Richard Langson
Unveiled Latest Invention at Gastech 2011


Carson City, NV (April 5, 2011) – Carson City’s Richard Langson presented his latest invention, the Total Flow Gas Letdown Generator, at the Center of Technical Excellence (CoTE) during Gastech 2011, which took place March 21-24 at the Amsterdam RAI, The Netherlands.

During his presentation to oil and gas executives from around the world, Langson discussed how in gas pressure let-down stations and city gates, natural gas is traditionally directed through pressure reduction valves. He went on to explain how the “disruptive technology” behind Langson Energy’s Total Flow Gas Letdown Generator, provides an efficient alternative that makes use of the wasted energy, converting the let-down pressure of the natural gas into usable electricity for a mere 1/4 cent per kW.

Attendees were particularly intrigued by the lower capital costs involved with the machine. “We modify readily available and proven off-the-shelf components, keeping the capital investment to implement our machine to a fraction of what would be required for a turbine installation,” Langson explained. “Helical screw technology has a proven track record of literally millions of hours of operation and tens of thousands of installations worldwide. It has proven itself to be reliable, durable and truly cost effective.”


Richard K. Langson is a proven entrepreneur and innovator over four decades in business. The accolades he earned with his previous company, include the Wall Street Journal’s 2009 Energy Technology Innovation award, 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year, Popular Science Magazine’s 2008 “Best of What’s New” award and the Geothermal Energy Association’s 2007 prize for “Best of Show.” For more information on Langson and the Total Flow Gas Pressure Generator, visit www.LangsonEnergy.com.

 

Hosted by Shell, Gastech 2011 is the premier event in the global gas calendar, serving the entire spectrum of the upstream, midstream and downstream gas sectors. For further information about Gastech 2011 visit www.gastech.co.uk.

Feb 2011 – Introduction of the Gas Letdown Generator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Langson Energy, Inc. Introduces
the Gas Letdown Generator

Carson City, NV (February 15, 2011) – Richard Langson, a Nevada inventor and owner of
Langson Energy, Inc. is introducing his newest invention to market: the Gas Letdown
Generator.

Langson has been able to overcome the challenges of high capital costs, high maintenance
and expensive implementations that have rendered previous attempts at producing power
from the energy in the pressure of natural gas pipelines. In Gas Pressure Reduction Stations
and city gates, natural gas is traditionally directed through pressure reduction valves. Langson
Energy’s Gas Letdown Generator, however, provides an efficient alternative that makes use
of the stored energy, converting the pressure into usable electricity for a mere 1/2 cent per
kW. For more information on the Gas Letdown Generator, visit www.langsonenergy.com.

 

Langson is not new to innovation. With his previous patents, he was recipient of the Wall
Street Journal’s 2009 Energy Technology Innovation award, the 2009 Entrepreneur of the
Year, Popular Science Magazine’s 2008 Best of “What’s New” award and the Geothermal
Energy Association’s 2007 award for Best of Show and Best Paper, “Cost Effective Small
Scale ORC Systems for Power Recovery from Low Enthalpy Geothermal Resources,”
among others.

Langson will be debuting the Gas Letdown Generator at Gastech 2011, taking place March 21-
24 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Always an innovator and performance orientated person, Langson became interested in
cogeneration in 2001 to spearhead new projects and business development. Some of his
technical innovations included annual oil change systems, a series of “clean burn” natural gas
engines, high tech control systems and state of the art heat exchangers.
Langson has proven his talent as a world champion entrepreneur and innovator for more than
four decades in business. He is also a world champion race car builder and driver, beating
“Big Daddy” Don Garlits for the 1993 IHRA World Championship He set many world records,
some still stand today.
Langson intends to grow Langson Energy in Carson City, and keep it where his roots are.
“Carson City has been our home and we intend to keep our business and jobs here,” Langson
says. “We’ll construct our headquarters, along with our R&D facility within the next two
years.” The company will eventually employ upwards of 130 people.
The Langson family has been prominent in Carson City for more than 60 years – they are
former owners of the Carson Hot Springs, where Langson bottled and sold spring water for
more than 20 years. They still own the Parkway Manor Apartments and other real estate
holdings, and they contributed to the new cancer wing at Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare.
For more information on Langson and the Gas Letdown Generator, visit
www.LangsonEnergy.com.