Natural gas travels many kilometers per day. It flows from north to south, from west to east, it crosses oceans and mountain ranges. That can become a bit tiring. Natural gas needs a turbo to get back up to speed. This turbo is known as a compressor station. One of Europe’s most important compressor stations is found in Baumgarten, Lower Austria.
Martin Peterschelka from Gas Connect Austria is doing his daily rounds at the Baumgarten natural gas station. One of his jobs is checking the compressor station. “It is crucial that everything is carefully inspected and maintained; after all, natural gas is always in demand.”, says the Service Technician. Natural gas has to be transported day and night and over long stretches, as many countries have insufficient or no equity production, while other areas have more natural gas than they need. This is why a strong, fast and flexible pipeline network is needed. And at this point the compressor stations play a significant role.
Bringing natural gas up to speed
Natural gas is compressed through the pipelines at pressure of around 70 bar. The average flow rate here is 8 m/sec or around 28 km/h. Friction and variations in height cause the gas to lose pressure and speed. “This is why a constant flow of natural gas requires compressor stations at intervals of 70 to 200 km; these recompress the gas – that means they increase the pressure, sending the gas on its way again”, says Martin Peterschelka. Compressors pressurize the natural gas again at the requisite 70 bar – which is equal to the pressure at a water depth of 700 meters.
Our electric compressors are ready to go amazingly quickly. As soon as we hear ‘Let the gas flow’, we press the start button and huge amounts of natural gas are set in motion. What’s more, all of this happens without any emissions.
What exactly happens when natural gas arrives in the compressor station? Which stations does it have to pass through? Have a look using the example of the natural gas station in Lower Austrian Baumgarten:
On the road in the underground natural gas highway
Natural gas is transported in high-pressure, underground pipelines at depths of approximately 1.5 meters: independent of the weather and with the maximum security. The latter aspect is guaranteed by regular maintenance and inspections. This requires high-precision work on the pipes as well as in the compressor station. “The maintenance team is on call around the clock so that it can react immediately if needed. After all, in Europe alone there are 500 million people to supply with natural gas 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 times a year”, adds Martin Peterschelka.
Copyrights header picture: MAN Diesel & Turbo