This month we are looking back to a paper on Gas Sweetening from Laura A. Pellegrini & Stefano Langé, Politecnico di Milano, Oldrich Mikus, Stamicarbon, and Barbara Picutti, Paolo Vergani, Guido Franzoni, Marco Lo Savio & Fabio Brignoli, Tecnimont. Presented by Stefano Langé from Politecnico di Milano and Fabio Brignoli of Tecnimont at our 2015 Annual Conference in Florence:
In the presentation, Fabio considered the use of cryogenic distillation for natural gas sweetening. A process based on a "dual-pressure" cryogenic distillation unit was proposed, a high-pressure column for the CO2 bulk removal and a low-pressure column for the methane recovery, which allow a complete separation of CO2 and H2S from methane, whilst avoiding the CO2 freezing. "The application of traditional chemical absorption of CO2 and H2S by means of alkanolamines is not competitive for natural gas sweetening when the amount of acid gas is high, because the energy required by these processes is proportional to the quantity of acid components to be removed. On the other hand, the cryogenic distillation technologies can be usefully applied to process natural gas with any amount of acid components, since the costs are incrementally reduced, the higher the acid gas content in the stream. In the amine washing separation methods, CO2 and H2S are recovered at low pressures (nominally 1-2 bar) and need then to be dried and then compressed for re-injection into underground storage; on the contrary cryogenic distillation technologies discharge the CO2 and H2S mixture as a high pressure liquid, with a commercial advantage when this stream is re-injected for storage into depleted reservoirs or for EOR purposes. An innovative process based on a "dual-pressure" cryogenic distillation unit is proposed with its two sections (the high-pressure column for the CO2 bulk removal and the low-pressure column for the methane recovery) working across the critical pressure of methane and the SVL locus of the binary CO2-CH4 mixture. This allows a complete separation of CO2 and H2S from methane, while avoiding the CO2 freezing. A dynamic simulation study has been developed in order to validate the process architecture and to define the unit start-up procedure, while a laboratory experimental campaign is beginning."
Presented at the GPA Europe Annual Conference, 2015 in Florence.