LNG would be a lousy target for terrorists

April 03, 2010

Charles Faddis' risk assessment of LNG transportation and storage ("Danger at our doorstep," March 31) misrepresents how truly difficult it is to exploit LNG as a weapon. As a point of fact a methane/air mixture is only explosive in concentrations from 5 percent to 15 percent; above 15 percent there is no explosion risk --meaning the densest parts of a release cloud are nonflammable. He also neglects to analyze the rate of vaporization during a release event and how this mitigates any real danger outside the area of release. His assertion about turning a highly insulated LNG tank into a thermal bomb is beyond ridiculous. More damage can be done with a hijacked gasoline tanker (which is not thermally insulated).

However, the public concerns about LNG are better applied to liquid hydrogen. If we ever adopt a "hydrogen economy," then every liquefied hydrogen storage tank, whether in a car or fixed, becomes a clear and present danger.

Hydrogen is explosive when mixed with air from 4 percent to 75 percent -- any small spill can easily explode.

Paul Spause, Hanover

The writer is an aerospace engineer.

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