Polyurethane foam is the material of choice to insulate LNG tankers, Simon Robinson visited Dongsung FineTec in Korea to find out more.
I am becoming used to seeing block stores in flexible foam plants but the scale of the block stores at Dongsung FineTec in Anseong, South Korea about 80km (50 miles)southwest of Seoul, are a size bigger.
Dongsung makes insulating foam blocks for the LNG container market and has to wait for a long time before the exotherm from the foaming reaction has subsided enough to allow for further processing.
This can take “up to a month”, said Heung-Soo Jang, research and business development, vice president as we looked over his block store. This process of maturation is necessary because the foam is very highly insulating and thick.
It needs to be.
The foam has to separate liquefied natural gas at -163oC from the ship’s hull which could by almost 200oC warmer if the boat is loading in the Persian Gulf.
It also has to keep LNG at close to this temperature, without additional cooling, while the ships are at sea. According to the Baltic Exchange, a typical journey for a comparable LPG 22 kT dwt tanker from Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia to Chiba, Japan could take between 18 and 20 days. Most of this time would be spent in the tropics.