This process is used to produce relatively small quantities (0.18–1.8MMscfd) of highly pure hydrogen when methanol is available at a rea-sonable price.In the petroleum refining industry, hydrogen is essentially obtained fromcatalytic naphtha reforming, where it is a coproduct with reformed gasoline.The use of hydrogen in the chemical and petroleum refining industriesis of prime importance. Hydrogen is essentially a hydrogenating agent.For example, it is used with vegetable oils and fats to reduce unsaturatedesters (triglycerides). It is also a reducing agent for sulfide ores such aszinc and iron sulfides (to get the metals from their ores).Hydrogen use in the petroleum refining includes many processingschemes such as hydrocracking, hydrofinishing of lube oils, hydrodealkyla-tion and hydrodesulfurization of petroleum fractions and residues. Hydro-cracking of petroleum resids is becoming more important to produce lighterpetroleum distillates of low sulfur and nitrogen content to meet stringentgovernment-mandated product specifications to control pollution.In the petrochemical field, hydrogen is used to hydrogenate benzeneto cyclohexane and benzoic acid to cyclohexane carboxylic acid. Thesecompounds are precursors for nylon production (Chapter 10). It is alsoused to selectively hydrogenate acetylene from C
olefin mixture.As a constituent of synthesis gas, hydrogen is a precursor for ammo-nia, methanol, Oxo alcohols, and hydrocarbons from Fischer Tropschprocesses. The direct use of hydrogen as a clean fuel for automobiles andbuses is currently being evaluated compared to fuel cell vehicles that usehydrocarbon fuels which are converted through on-board reformers to ahydrogen-rich gas. Direct use of H
provides greater efficiency and envi-ronmental benefits.
Due to the increasing demand for hydrogen, many separation tech-niques have been developed to recover it from purge streams vented fromcertain processing operations such as hydrocracking and hydrotreating.In addition to hydrogen, these streams contain methane and other lighthydrocarbon gases. Physical separation techniques such as adsorption,diffusion, and cryogenic phase separation are used to achieve this goal.Adsorption is accomplished using a special solid that preferentiallyadsorbs hydrocarbon gases, not hydrogen. The adsorbed hydrocarbonsare released by reducing the pressure. Cryogenic phase separation on theother hand, depends on the difference between the volatilities of the com-ponents at the low temperatures and high pressures used. The vaporphase is rich in hydrogen, and the liquid phase contains the hydrocar-bons. Hydrogen is separated from the vapor phase at high purity.