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# Z-Factor

Cameron Geresti
Black Flick
Brenden Thomas
PNG 406
John and Willie Leon Family Department of Energy and Mineral
Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University

Introduction

The gas compressibility factor, or z factor goes above and beyond the limitations of the
ideal gas law. The limitation of the idea gas law lies with the fact that there is the
assumption that no interactions exist between the gas molecules and that the energy in the
system is assumed just the kinetic energy of the molecules. However, in most gases there
is additional energy from attractions between the molecules, as well as vibration of the
molecules themselves. Therefore although ideal gas works well for ideal gases it doesn’t
seem to work well for real gases. This is where the real gas law comes in. For real gases
we add the compressibility factor, Z, to the ideal gas law leaving pV=ZnRT. For this lab
we are going to compare the results we would get from using the ideal gas law and the
real gas law. That way we can see the importance of the z-factor. Some background on
the ideal gas law is that pV=nRT and gases are expected to behave ideally at low
pressures and high temperatures.

In the lab we are going to have a small tank with a known volume at high pressure and a
specific temperature. The real gas law will apply to the high-pressure tank and the ideal
gas law applies for the gas in the second tank because it is low pressure. The pressure in
the small tank is bled into a chamber until the pressure of the smaller tank is equal to one
atmosphere. Doing this, while recording the pressures will allows us to construct a graph
of the z- factor versus the pressure in the small tank for our specific pressure using the
equation for real gases. We can use the ideal gas law to calculate the number of moles of
gas that is bled off to be able to calculate our z factor.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This experiment was conducted using measurements through the gas compressibility
factor (Z), as a function of pressure and at a specific temperature to observe and quantify
the PVT nature of an imperfect gas. In achieving our objectives, we employed a
phenomenal technique with several apparatus to conduct an experiment under two
different specified thermal conditions. In the first part, using the Z-factor apparatus we
able to measure and obtain reducing pressure values for the cold bath. The second part
was similar but with a hot bath, as these measures enabled us to construct the necessary
Z-factor graphs at the specified temperature and also compute the moles of gas as the
different stages using the appropriate formulas as well as the experimental data obtained.

Results and Discussion

Our experiment was completed successfully without any setbacks. The large tank
is completely evacuated before the small tank is allowed to leak. The baths that the tanks
were submerged in represented the temperature of the methane gas. Using the ideal gas
law, we calculated the number of moles allowed to bleed off to the larger tank for every
trial. The larger tank is lower pressure, which applies to an ideal gas. After our last trial,
we used the ideal gas law to calculate the amount of moles remaining in the small tank.
This value was added to the cumulative number of moles bled to find the total amount of
methane gas. The Z-Factor was calculated for each trial using the real gas law and
amount of moles remaining in the small tank. The small tank is at higher pressure so the
real gas law must be used. The value for R constant used is 20678.1 due to our
temperature being in degrees Rankine and pressure being in atmospheres. The pressure
We did not encounter any significant problems during our experiment and were
able to obtain reasonable values for Z-Factor in the end. As in all experiments, there is
room for error. When disconnecting the vacuum after evacuating the large tank, air could
have found it’s way into the larger tank. The values for temperature were for the water. If
the methane was not at equilibrium with the water, then the real temperature may have
been different, making our calculated Z-Factor different than the actual value.
When analyzing our results, Z-Factor reacted differently at the different
temperature. At a lower reduced temperature, Z-Factor decreases as pressure is decreased.
The opposite is true at a higher reduced temperature. Z-Factor decreases as pressure is
increased. The trends are apparent when looking at the graphs produced for Z-Factor
versus pressure and reduced pressure. Z-Factor is typically found using charts that show
the Z-Factor at different reduced pressures and temperatures. The charts are not linear, as
most make a V-shape. The charts show that Z-Factor typically increases with
temperature, which was not the case in our experiment.

Analysis

Z-Factor vs. Pressure

Low Temperature
High Temperature

Looking at our first graph, there is a noticeable increase in Z-Factor at lower temperature.
The Z-Factor plays a much larger part in calculating the gas properties at the lower
temperature. We know that the ideal gas law can be used at low pressures and higher
temperatures. The volatility of Z-Factor at lower temperatures proves this, as there is
more attraction and vibration at the molecular level.

Z-Factor vs. Reduced Pressure

Reduced Temperature =
1.52
Reduced Temperature =
1.61

The graph using reduced pressure and temperature gives the same curves. The critical
pressure and temperature is the same so it is reasonable to expect that the graphs would
look similar.

Step 11 of the experiment involved a process that contains assumptions. The valve
between the two tanks is very sensitive, and the operator had to be very careful. The
slightest twist caused a rapid decrease in the gauge pressure. Due to this, the exact
pressure may not have been equal to 0 mm Hg, or 1 atmosphere. This could cause our
readings to be off. We also assume that the large tank was completely evacuated, which
may not be the case, as discussed earlier.

The gas used in this experiment was pure methane. Using a gas that is 10%
weight of a second gas would definitely change the expected and measure Z-Factor. ZFactor is dependent on reduced pressure and reduced temperature of gas, therefor making
it dependent on the critical pressure and temperature of that gas. Using a mix of gasses
would mean that critical values would be different. They would have to be adjusted
taking into account the weight percent of the gasses. For instance, multiplying 673 psi,
the critical pressure of methane, by .9 and adding it to .1 multiplied by the second gasses
critical pressure would find the new critical pressure. It is dependent on the weighted
averages of the two, so therefor the Z-Factor would change.

Appendices

Hot Bath
Test Gas: Methane
Volume of Large Tank: 506.7 cc
Volume of Small Tank: 151.6 cc
Fittings Volume: 5.2 cc
Cell Temperature: 95°F = 555°R

Pressure
Small Tank
(atm)

Pressure
Large Tank
(atm)

n moles bled
off × 10-5

Cumulative n
moles bled ×
10-5

N
remaining
in small
tank × 10-

Z-Factor

4

31.6
28.95
26.5
24.12
21.4
18.68
16.3
13.92
11.2
8.82
6.1
3.38

1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

Total moles: 57.44 × 10-5
Cold Bath
Test Gas: Methane
Volume of Large Tank: 507.15 cc
Volume of Small Tank: 316.9 cc
Fittings Volume: 5.2 cc
Cell Temperature: 65°F = 525°R

4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415
4.415

4.415
8.83
13.245
17.66
22.075
26.49
30.905
35.32
39.735
44.15
48.565
52.98

5.3025
4.861
4.4195
3.978
3.5365
3.095
2.6535
2.212
1.7705
1.329
.8875
0.446

0.787
0.7867
0.792
0.801
0.799
0.809
0.811
0.831
0.8356
0.877
0.908
1.0

Pressure
Small Tank
(atm)
30.24
27.86
25.48
23.1
20.72
18.34
15.96
13.24
10.86
8.48
5.76
3.04

Pressure
Large Tank
(atm)
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

n moles bled
off × 10-5
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67
4.67

Cumulative
n moles bled
× 10-5
4.67
9.34
14.01
18.68
23.35
28.02
32.96
37.36
42.03
46.7
51.37
56.04

N remaining
in small tank
× 10-4
6.96
5.556
5.089
4.622
4.155
3.688
3.221
2.754
2.287
1.82
1.353
0.8874

Z-Factor
1.27
1.46
1.46
1.459
1.455
1.45
1.446
1.40
1.39
1.36
1.24
1.0

Total moles: 64.9 × 10-5
Sample Calculations
Moles bled off.
PlargeVlarge = nRT
(1)(506.7) = n(20678.1)(555)
n= (1*506.7)/(20678.1*555) = 0.0000467
Total moles.
Cumulative Moles Bled + Moles Remaining = Total Moles
.0005298 + .00008874 = .0005744
Z-Factor.
PsmallVsmall = ZnRT
(30.24)(316.9) = Z(.000696)(20678.1)(525)
Z = (30.24*316.9)/(.000696*525) = 1.27
These calculations were the exact same for both the hot bath and cold bath, just using
their respective values for volumes, pressures, and temperature.
Reduced Pressure.
Preduced = P/Pcritical (psi for both) = 464.7/673 = 0.69
Reduced Temperature.
Treduced = T/Tcritical = 555/344 = 1.61

Nomenclature
P = Pressure (atm) (psi for reduced pressure)
T = Temperature (Rankine)
R = Gas Constant = 20678.1 (atm*cm3/(moles*°R))
n = Moles
V = Volume (centimeters cubed)
Z = Z-Factor