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Amine Sweetening Process Design

Amine Sweetening Process Design

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Design
 
&
 
Operation
 
of 
 
a
 
Selective
 
Sweetening
 
Plant 
 
Using
 
MDEA
 
DOUGLAS H. MACKENZIEFRANCIS CHIRAKA PRAMBIL,Propak Systems Ltd.,Airdrie, AlbertaCHRISTINA A. DANIELS,Bryan Research & Engineering, Inc.,Bryan, TexasJERRY A. BULLIN,Texas A&M University,College Station, Texas
ABSTRACT
Operating data were collected from the Signalta gas sweetening plant. Theplant has had an interesting variety of feed gas and operating conditions.The design and operation of the facility for CO
2
slippage are discussed.
 Energy Progress March 1987: 31-36.
 
Bryan Research & Engineering, Inc.
 
Visit our Engineering Resources page for more articles.
 
 
 INTRODUCTION
 
The Signalta Resources Forestburg Gas Plant was constructed during the winter of 1983 and placed onstream in April of 1984. A design outlet gas specification of 1/4 grain H
2
S /100 scf was requested toensure meeting the contract commitment of 1 grain/l00 scf. The design gas flow rate was 30 MMSCFDcontaining 0.5% H
2
S and 3% CO
2
at 415 psia and 70°F.
 
The overall plant is configured as shown in Figure 1. Inlet separation facilities are followed by a feed gasheater. The gas stream then flows through a filter separator followed by the amine contactor. Anotherfilter separator is used as a sweet gas scrubber. After sweetening, the gas is routed to a dew point controlrefrigeration unit. Finally, a single stage of compression is required to boost the gas to 1200 psigmaximum pipeline pressure.
 
Figure 1. Block flow diagram for Forestburg Facility.
The sweetening chemical selected for the Forestburg Plant was methyldiethanolamine (MDEA). This waschosen due to its capability to remove H
2
S and leave a portion of the CO
2
in the residue gas. At the timeof plant commissioning it was one of the first operating MDEA facilities in Western Canada.
 
The inlet gas comes from 20 wells and is located in various pipelines up to 6" diameter with a total lengthof more than 50 miles. Some of the wells produce as much as 2% H
2
S and occasionally some oil andasphaltene. The actual feed stream reaching the plant normally contains 0.2 to 0.4% H
2
S. Due to demandthe flow rate has varied from 6 to 27 MMSCFD.
 
Several tests of the plant were undertaken to determine the effects of changes in feed point on thecontactor. This information can be used to improve the methods and assumptions used in the design ofMDEA sweetening systems. Considerable interest is expressed by production companies in theadjustability of CO
2
slippage that can be obtained using MDEA. This opportunity is also used to describethe initial calculation procedures used to develop an MDEA design.
 
 
PROCESS CHEMISTRY
The methyldiethanolamine (MDEA) process as used for natural gas treating utilizes the selectivity of thechemical for H
2
S in preference to CO
2
in a nonequilibrium situation. Several sources of published materialare available describing the various reactions that maytake place [1-6]. The most significant observation from aplant design perspective is relatively simple. H
2
Schemically reacts with MDEA almost instantaneously byproton transfer as is the case with other commonly used amines.
 
Since MDEA is a tertiary amine and does not have a hydrogen atomattached to the nitrogen atom, the CO
2
reaction can only occur afterthe CO
2
has formed bicarbonate with water. It is the formation of thebicarbonate which is generally considered tobe the slow reaction which limits the CO
2
 reaction to less than equilibrium values atshort contact times. The bicarbonate thenundertakes an acid-base reaction with the amine to yield an overall CO
2
reaction:
 
Because of the slow intermediate step required for the CO
2
and water it may be assumed that H
2
Sreaction with MDEA is gas phase limited while the CO
2
reaction is liquid phase limited [2]. It is obviousthat to utilize MDEA effectively in selective situations it is necessary to keep the liquid phase contact timefor the reaction to a minimum so that less CO
2
will be absorbed by the amine solution. Severalmechanical design considerations must be taken into account in proper absorber vessel design to ensurethat this will occur. The mechanical design requirements have an effect on the process operation.Therefore, it is necessary to properly allow reasonable first order estimates of the mechanical influenceon the process.
 
A computerized approach to the process design calculations is a necessity in order to optimize the designin any reasonable time frame. The program used for the design of the Signalta MDEA process wasTSWEET from Bryan Research & Engineering of Bryan, Texas. This program does rigorous tray by traycalculations for the contactor and stripper columns by the Ishii-Otto method and contains a kinetic modelto simulate the effects of contact time and the MDEA selectivity. A modified Kent and Eisenbergequilibrium model is used to calculate the vapor pressures of H
2
S and CO
2
above the amine solutions.This program also contains the ability to simulate multiple feed points to the absorber, which is onemethod of control over the selectivity.
PRELIMINARY DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS
Several preliminary considerations should be examined for each sweetening application. These include:
 
Circulation Rate 
The ratio of CO
2
to H
2
S in the feed gas is of considerable importance in the selection of MDEA as thesweetening agent. The more CO
2
in relation to H
2
S, the more attractive economically it will appear toremove only the H
2
S. The original CO
2
to H
2
S ratio for the Forestburg plant was 6:1 which was the initialindication that MDEA was worth considering. In addition, preliminary simulations indicated that 1/4grain/100 SCF specification with slightly less than 2% CO
2
in the outlet gas was readily achievable.
 

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