Process Selection of Natural Gas Recovery Unit

Mrs. Lakshmi Venkatesh Asst General Manager Petrofac Engineering India Limited, 7th Floor, Ventura, Central Avenue Hiranandani Business Park, Powai, Mumbai 400076 ABSTRACT:

Mr. Umesh Yeole Senior Engineer Process

In this paper, a review of process selection and configuration of the NGL recovery unit for different projects is presented. The recovery of light hydrocarbon liquids from natural gas streams can range from simple hydrocarbon (HC) dew point control to avoid retrograde condensation in the export pipeline to deep ethane/propane/LPG extraction. Typical LPG recovery processes includes lean oil absorption (in older plants), gas expansion refrigeration, using JT valves or turbo expanders, and mechanical refrigeration followed by distillation. The process selection depends on the gas composition, inlet pressure to the gas plant, the products to be recovered and the extent of recovery that is desired. Optimum extent of recovery depends on economics, i.e. increased product value compared to additional CAPEX and OPEX. This paper discusses typical configurations of the gas plant using the Turboexpander (TE) based processes. Differential pressure across the turbo-expander provides the driving force for NGL recovery. The effect of upstream gas pressure, mechanical refrigeration on product recovery and choice of the process based on the desired product recovery is discussed. The impact of impurities like carbon dioxide on the recoveries achievable due to the phenomenon of carbon dioxide freeze out at low operating temperature is also highlighted. Three cases are presented to illustrate the principles using results from simulations: Case 1: Considers a conventional turbo expander for the conditioning of residue gas so as to meet the export specifications. Case 2: Considers over head recycle (OHR) process to maximize LPG recovery with no consideration for ethane recovery. Case 3: Considers a gas plant with feed gas at a low pressure. Gas Sub-cooled Process (GSP) together with feed gas compression and mechanical refrigeration is used to achieve the required ethane and LPG recovery.

   

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INTRODUCTION The recovery of hydrocarbon liquids from natural gas streams can range from simple HC dew point control to deep ethane extraction. The process selection, complexity, and cost of the processing facility depends on the gas composition, inlet pressure to the gas plant, recovered product specifications and the extent of recovery that is desired. The term NGL (natural gas liquids) is a general term which applies to liquids recovered from natural gas and as such refers to ethane and heavier products. The term LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) describes hydrocarbon mixtures in which the main components are propane, iso and normal butane, propene and butenes. Gas processing plants are designed to satisfy one of the following requirements listed in the order of the severity of processing • • • Simple HC dew point control of the sales gas LPG recovery with Ethane rejection Ethane recovery

The processing requirement is market and geographically dependent. This paper discusses typical configurations of the gas plant using the Turboexpander (TE) based process. Differential pressure across the turbo-expander provides the driving force for separation of heavier hydrocarbons. The selection of a process for a specific application is presented by means of three case studies. The effect of upstream gas pressure, mechanical refrigeration and of impurities like carbon dioxide on the recoveries achievable is also highlighted. TURBO EXPANDER BASED PROCESS In a turbo expander based process, the feed gas pressure is used to produce required refrigeration by gas expansion across a turbo expander. The turbo expander recovers useful work from gas expansion. Typically the expander is linked to a centrifugal compressor to recompress the residue gas from the process. Because the expansion is near isentropic, the turbo expander lowers the gas temperature significantly more than expansion across a JouleThomson (JT) valve. The turbo expander process has been applied to a wide range of process conditions and varies in complexity based on the severity of the hydrocarbon recovery desired. Conventional Expander Process A simplified flow scheme of Conventional Expander Process is given in Figure 1. In this process, feed gas is first cooled by rejecting heat to process streams, and sent to the low temperature separator. Vapors from the separator are routed to a turbo expander where the low temperature required for the dropout of hydrocarbons is obtained as a result of expansion refrigeration. This is followed by distillation using a demethaniser or deethaniser

   

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overhead vapors from deethaniser are partially condensed and used as reflux. LPG and heavier components is sent for downstream fractionation and product treatment. In this case. In this case. The reflux stream rectifies vapor stream leaving the column by absorbing heavier components. as the case may be. an absorber column is provided upstream of deethanizer column. Conventional Expander Process with refluxed Deethaniser This process is a modification of the Conventional Expander Process. With this process higher recovery of LPG components is obtained. for light ends rejection. Overhead Recycle (OHR) Process A simplified flow scheme of Overhead Recycle (OHR) is given in Figure 3. This stream is then flashed to the tower operating pressure and used as reflux to the Demethaniser. This process is preferred when high recovery of LPG components is desired but the ethane is required to be rejected along with the overhead gas. The reflux stream rectifies vapor stream leaving the column by absorbing heavier components. In this process. Conventional Expander Process with refluxed Deethaniser This process is a modification of the Conventional Expander Process. In this process a part of the vapor from the low temperature separator is condensed and subcooled using demethaniser overhead vapors. Numerous variations of the processes described above are used in modern NGL recovery units that are licensed processes. Higher recovery of ethane+ components is obtained due to the colder reflux provided at the column top that serves to improve the recovery of ethane in the column bottoms. overhead vapors from deethaniser are partially condensed and used as reflux. Vapor stream from Deethanizer is condensed and used as reflux in absorber to rectify vapor leaving the expander. A simplified flow scheme of the process is shown in Figure 2. With this process higher recovery of LPG components is obtained.     Page 3  . Gas Sub-cooled Process (GSP) A simplified flow scheme of Gas Sub-cooled Process (GSP) is given in Figure 4.column. This process is typically used when the intent is to meet Sales gas HC dew point constraints and achieve a nominal recovery of the LPG components. The raw NGL stream consisting of ethane. A simplified flow scheme of the process is shown in Figure 2.

This also results in larger refrigeration duties and larger heat transfer area for exchangers. FEED GAS CONTAMINANTS & PRETREATMENT The feed gas to may contain a number of contaminants that will need to be removed prior to the gas processing. better recovery efficiency. If the recoveries are limited by high CO2 in the feed gas.The modifications usually provide higher recovery. Presence of large amounts of inert gases such as Nitrogen will affect the ability to condense the reflux stream in the demethaniser. improved operational flexibility in terms of desired product specifications and reduced lifecycle cost of the project. Hydrogen Sulphide: Sour gas containing Hydrogen Sulphide must have an Acid gas removal unit for the removal of the Hydrogen Sulphide.     Page 4  . Nitrogen: This has same impact as CO2 on the heating value of the gas. For plants with LPG and ethane recovery. reducing ethane recovery and overall efficiency of the process. IMPORTANT DESIGN PARAMETERS Feed Gas Richness: Richness of gas is defined in terms of cubic meters of recoverable hydrocarbons per thousand cubic meter of feed gas. Rich gas with a greater quantity of liquefiable hydrocarbons produces a greater quantity of products and hence greater revenue for gas processing facility. Mercury: Brazed Aluminium exchangers are often used in NGL recovery units in the cold section to improve the exchanger approach temperature and result is a better recovery of the cold in the process. and better tolerance for CO2 in feed gas. Carbon dioxide: Some quantity of Carbon dioxide if present is acceptable however it will impact the hydrocarbon recovery in two ways • • Sufficient ethane and heavier components must remain in the gas so that the heating value specification of the gas is achieved The phenomenon of CO2 freezing temperature must be considered in the top section of the demethaniser column and the column must be operated at a sufficiently high temperature to avoid the freeze out. an upstream acid gas removal unit will need to be considered. Lower approach temperatures of 2-3 Deg C are achieved with Brazed Aluminum exchangers which also have a smaller foot print than shell and tube exchangers. Mercury removal unit will be required for systems using aluminum plate-fin exchangers. molecular sieve based dehydration units are employed and water content reduced to below 1 ppm. Conventional shell and tube exchangers will limit the approach temperatures to approximately 5 Deg C. Water: Water removal is mandatory upstream of the NGL unit in order to avoid water freeze out and/or hydrate formation in the cold sections of the plant.

proximity to markets. Typically an inlet pressure of above 50 barg is desired for most expander processes. Carbon Dioxide Content: For propane-plus recovery. as propane. For ethane recovery applications. lower temperatures to achieve high recovery efficiencies. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) freezing will not be a concern. butane or LPG. Market value of these recovered liquid products might be much higher than the alternative value obtained for the same hydrocarbons lost in residue gas for use as sales gas. based on demand and plant location.Leaner gases require more severe processing conditions such as higher differential pressure in turb-expander. CO2 can also freeze in the low temperature sections of the process. A summary of some of the important design considerations while selecting a process and designing an NGL Recovery unit is given in Table 1. Desired Product Recovery: Recovered liquid hydrocarbons can be used as feed for downstream petrochemical processes. Higher CO2 content will affect specifications for both products. use of mechanical refrigeration or feed gas compression may be required depending on gas composition and the desired recovery. For low inlet gas pressure. increasing the reflux flow can provide better operating margin for CO2 freezing.     Page 5  . i. Increasing heavier content in liquid in demethaniser overhead sections will reduce the possibility of CO2 freezing. Alternatively NGL can also be used as a fuel. CO2 in the feed gas will normally split between the recovered ethane product and the residue gas. The optimum NGL recovery level is unique for each plant and will depend on the alternative NGL value. The process should be operated such that freezing of CO2 in low temperature sections is avoided. Feed Gas Pressure: Differential pressure across the turbo-expander provides the driving force for NGL recovery.e. Inlet pressure above 80 barg will be an advantage for Propane+ recovery as much of the propane will be condensed in the low temperature separator. Feed gas or product treatment for CO2 removal will be required if CO2 content in products is not acceptable. For designs that make use of feed gas to generate reflux for demethaniser.

Feed gas compression required.Table 1 Design considerations in process selection for NGL recovery unit Parameter Specification Design impact for turbo-expander based processes Feed Gas Rich Gas Larger refrigeration duties. Feed gas/ product treatment for H2S removal. • • H2S content in >500 feed gas mol ppm • • • • • Impact on liquid product specification Feed gas/ product treatment for CO2 removal. Inert content in > 2.0 mol % feed gas Feed pressure gas < 30 barg Mercury feed gas 60-85 barg in > 10 ng/Nm3 • Mechanical refrigeration likely to be required No concern if low sales gas pressure specification. • Water content in feed gas Residue gas Heating value Saturated feed gas 35.8 MJ/m3 Residue Gas >30 barg BL pressure specification     Page 6  . Residue gas compression required to achieve high BL pressure. Impact on Gas/Liquid product specifications to be checked. May limit the extent of ethane recovery. Reduced ethane recovery due to reduced reflux flow Inert gas will reduce sales gas heating value necessitating lower hydrocarbon recovery to meet sales gas heating value. Use of Brazed aluminum exchangers to be reviewed Gas dehydration unit required Decides the amount of ethane and heavier components in residue gas. gas Recovery efficiency will be limited by the CO2 freeze out temperatures. Lean Gas Requires more severe processing conditions (lower temperatures) to achieve high recovery efficiencies CO2 in feed > 2. Typically. larger heat exchange Richness surfaces and higher project lifecycle cost for a given recovery but more product to sell.4-42. • Mercury removal unit/ Mercury guard bed required.0 mol% • CO2 Freezing in low temperature sections. LPG products are required to pass Copper Strip corrosion test.

OHR process more suitable Desired ethane Ethane recovery rejection in sales gas Low Ethane Conventional turboexpander processes recovery ~ 60-85% >90% Increased complexity of process design. GSP process or its modifications most suitable Desired LPG 80-95% No concern if only LPG recovery is desired. any of recovery the processes could be suitable >95% Increased complexity of process design     Page 7  .

The specifications for the Sales gas were to achieve a cricondentherm of -10 Deg C and Heating Value between 35.400 and 45. Quality-Propane w/w Quality-Butane w/w C2 and lighter <2% C3 and lighter <1% C3 >95% C4 >98% C4 <5% C5 and heavier <1% Process Selection Important consideration for process selection were • Main objective was to meet the Sales gas specifications • Ethane was to be rejected to Sales gas • No concern for recovery level of propane and butane • Feed gas was treated for CO2 removal and moisture removal at the upstream of gas plant • Feed gas pressure of 65 barg was ideal for a turbo-expander based process • Sales gas compression was necessary to meet battery limit pressure of 75 barg Two processing schemes were considered for the NGL recovery unit: • Scheme 1 : conventional expander with a de-ethanizer and • Scheme 2 : conventional expander with a refluxed de-ethaniser     Page 8  . Table 2 Gas Feed Composition Component Nitrogen Methane Ethane Propane Isobutane N-Butane C5 Mole % in feed gas 2 74 11 9 1 2 1 Propane and butane as products were required with the following specifications.000 kJ/m3 supplied at a pressure of 75 barg.CASE STUDY 1 : SALES GAS DEW POINT CONTROL This was a 200 MMSCFD gas plant with feed gas inlet pressure of 65 barg with feed composition as shown in Table 2.

2 97. With this process relatively higher recovery of Propane and Butane is obtained. kW     Page 9  . The reflux stream rectifies the vapor stream leaving the column by absorbing heavier components. MMSCFD NGL unit inlet Pressure.8 80. the overhead vapors from deethaniser are partially condensed and used as reflux.7 99.8 74. mol % Butane Quality.6 42180 97. Table 3 : Case 1 Result Summary Conventional Expander with Conventional Refluxed Expander Deethaniser Process 200 60 -32. so vapors from the turboexpander are not rectified.2 13 3974 11730 200 60 -40. deg C Sales Gas heating Value. barg Deethaniser reboiler Duty. In scheme 2. Scheme 2 provides better recovery efficiency with marginal increase in capital and operating cost. In scheme 1. kJ/m3 Propane Quality. mol% Deethaniser Pressure. reflux is not available for deethaniser column. barg Sales gas cricondentherm. This lowers the recovery of Propane and Butane. w/w Butane Recovery.Process flow scheme were similar to the schematic shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2 respectively.6 98. w/w Propane Recovery.7 13 3264 11970 Process Gas Feed Rate.16 41580 97.4 93. kW Sales Gas Compression power. Results Summary A comparison of achievable recovery is presented in Table 3.

Unfortunately. lower column pressure increases the recompression power requirement. At higher column operating pressure. operating temperature is also higher. Process parameters were optimized to minimize energy consumption and to improve the recovery efficiency. column reboiler duty increases. Over 80 mol% propane recovery and 97 mol % butane recovery was achievable. Desired Sales gas specifications were met. As a result. Conclusions: Refluxed deethaniser process provides improved hydrocarbon recovery compared to conventional expander process.     Page 10  . Effect of deethaniser operating pressure on Sales gas compressor power requirement and propane recovery is presented in Figure 5. Final process selection should be based on detailed cost benefit analysis considering CAPEX/OPEX for the facility and the value of the products. This lowers the temperature differential available in the heat exchangers and hence the heat integration is less efficient. Lower column operating pressure is desired from separation viewpoint as it increases differential pressure across turbo expander resulting in lower temperatures in column overhead section.Optimization of Recompression power Operating pressure of deethaniser column is an important parameter for NGL recovery processes.

0 62.5 1.0 2. For the normal and lean case the plant was required to handle 500 MMSCFD of feed gas.0 3. Table 4 Feed Gas Composition Design Case Flow rate. Three different feed cases were identified based on the various stages of the reservoir development. 2.0 2.0 18.0 1. Residue gas was used for reinjection back into the wells at 340 barg pressure.CASE STUDY 2: HIGH LPG RECOVERY. In the rich case.0 16.4 mol% max A residue gas compressor was used to recompress the gas upto 70 barg.0 1.0 0.5 75. Process Selection Important consideration for process selection were • Main objective was to recover min 90% (mol) of LPG components present in feed gas • Ethane was to be rejected to residue gas • No concern for heating value of residue gas since it is to be used for reinjection • A molecular sieve dehydration unit at the upstream of gas plant was used to remove moisture present in feed gas. The pressure drop in the initial section of the plant including dehydration and associated frictional loss was estimated to be about 5 bar • Feed gas pressure of 69 barg was ideal for a turbo-expander based process     Page 11  .0 1.0 10.0 0. This was followed by a gas reinjection compressor. Ethane Iso & Normal Pentane 2.6 mol% max 0.5 0.0 1.0 84.0 1. ETHANE REJECTION This was a 500 MMSCFD gas plant with feed gas available at 74 barg at gas plant inlet. the feed gas was about 220 MMSCFD.0 Lean 500 Normal 500 % mol 1 1. MMSCFD Composition Nitrogen CO2 Methane Ethane Propane i-Butane n-Butane i-Pentane n-Pentane 1 2.5 0.0 1.0 4.0 Rich 220 LPG recovery of minimum 90% (mol) was required to be achieved with the following specifications of the LPG product.0 7.

Table 5: Case 2 Results Summary Rich (without Recycle) Overhead Recycle Process Rich (with recycle) Overhead Recycle Process Design Case Normal Conventional Expander with Refluxed Deethaniser 500 68 97.6 -58. Results Summary A comparison of achievable recovery is presented in Table 5. deg C Deethaniser reboiler duty. MMSCFD NGL Unit Inlet Pressure. kW Gas Compression power.6 -75.1 2436 21.8 69 2333 14 NA 12620 19923 Normal Overhead Recycle Process Lean Overhead Recycle Process Process Gas Feed Rate. barg Absorber overhead temperature.7 3101 21. mol% LPG Recovery.3 10339 13424     Page 12  . OHR process was selected as a viable option for NGL recovery unit.8 11243 14285 220 68 97.2 3422 21. kW 500 68 97.3 9688 13072 500 68 97.7 91.Two processing schemes were considered for the NGL recovery unit: • Scheme 1 : conventional expander scheme with a refluxed de-ethaniser • Scheme 2 : Overhead recycle (OHR) process Process flow schemes for NGL recovery unit were similar to the schematic shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3 respectively. desired LPG recovery of 90% can be obtained with OHR process. % LPG product Rate Sm3/day Deethaniser pressure.6 -47. As seen from the results. Therefore. barg LPG Quality.7 64.3 5736 9670 500 68 97.7 2191 21.7 91.7 94.6 -29.

Column operating pressure of 20 barg was selected as the LPG recovery drops below 90% at higher pressures. As seen from Figure 6. However heat integration is more effective as column operating temperature is lower. reducing the temperature differential available in heat exchangers. Effect of Absorber operating pressure on compression power requirement and Propane recovery is presented in Figure 7. For rich gases. However. only 64% LPG recovery was achieved.As seen from Table 5. Lean feed gas requires lower temperatures to achieve high recovery efficiencies. in this case sales gas flow rate was low and excess compression capacity was available. higher recovery of LPG is obtained. Conclusions: ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ Desired LPG recovery was achieved with OHR process Absorber operating pressure was optimized to minimize energy cost CO2 in feed gas was not a concern as all the CO2 was rejected to sales gas and adequate margin over CO2 freezing temperature was available For Rich gas feed. operating changes such as residue gas recycle are required to achieve desired LPG recovery     Page 13  . higher LPG product rate) on the reboiler duty. the operating temperature is higher. A fraction of the residue gas was recycled back to the inlet of NGL recovery unit and mixed with heavier feed gas. as the packing height is increased. This resulted in lower temperature when the gas was expanded through the turbo expander. for Rich Case (without recycle). Figure 8 also demonstrates the effect of feed gas richness (i. With this arrangement desired LPG recovery of 90% was achieved for Rich case (with recycle). As a result the heat integration is less effective as is seen in Figure 8 where lower heat is recovered from the cold streams in the deethaniser. Effect of feed gas richness As seen from Table 5 Rich gas with a greater quantity of liquefiable hydrocarbons produces a greater quantity of product and hence greater revenue for gas processing facility. Absorber packing height has significant effect on the recovery of LPG components. As a result molecular weight of the mixed gas was lowered.e.

0 1.0 2.0 1.0 15.0 2.1%     Page 14  .3 Rich # Liquid content is defined as m3 of recoverable liquid hydrocarbon per 1000 m3 of feed gas Ethane product was sent for further processing in downstream Ethane recovery units.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 10.0 84. USE OF MECHANICAL REFRIGERATION & FEED GAS COMPRESSION This was a 700 MMSCFD gas plant with 40 barg pressure at the inlet of the gas plant and feed composition as shown in Table 6: Table 6 Feed Gas Composition Design Case Flowrate Liquid Content # Composition Nitrogen H2S CO2 Methane Ethane Propane i-Butane n-Butane i-Pentane n-Pentane 1 0.0 3. KJ/m3 Gross (Min) Pentane & Heavier mole % < 2% 36000 < 0. 0.CASE STUDY 3: LOW PRESSURE FEED GAS.0 74.0 0. Desired product specifications were as follows: Residue Gas Specification CO2 content mole % Calorific value.5 Lean Normal 700 MMSCFD 0.0 1.0 18.87 % mol 1.0 3.0 2.0 7.0 2.0 1.0 62.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 1.

Feed gas contained on average 2 mol% CO2. Wide variation in hydrocarbon content in feed gas. 3. This stream is then flashed to the tower operating pressure and used as reflux to the Demethaniser. Selected process should be tolerant to CO2. 6. it was decided to eliminate residue gas compressor by maintaining higher operating pressure for demethaniser column. This was followed by cooling the gas using propane refrigerant. High recovery of ethane and LPG products desired. A part of the vapor from the low temperature separator is condensed and subcooled using demethaniser overhead vapors. Use of mechanical refrigeration was necessary to provide additional cooling duty in NGL separation unit. cooling medium for deethaniser overhead condenser. This was followed by dehydration using molecular sieve bed and a mercury guard bed. Feed gas compression was used to boost the inlet gas pressure. 5. Boosting the feed gas pressure was necessary considering low pressure of feed gas and high required recovery of ethane. mol % LPG Product Specification Vapour Pressure @ 37 Deg C (Max) C5+ mol % (max) 10 bar < 2% < 7% < 1% < 6% >85% Ethane recovery above 75% and LPG recovery over 96% was desired.     Page 15  . Feed gas was initially cooled by rejecting heat to process streams. Process selection Important considerations in process selection of NGL recovery unit included: 1. Therefore. Sales gas battery limit pressure was relatively low at 30 barg. mol % C2 content. The selected process should provide greater operational flexibility. 4.Ethane Product Specification C1 mol % C3 and heavier mol% CO2 Content. Gas Sub-cooled process coupled with mechanical refrigeration was selected. 2. Process flow scheme for NGL recovery unit was similar to the schematic shown in Figure 4.

7 2% 87.96 -117 614.6 468. mol % Ethane Recovery. 0C CO2 freeze out temperature. Demethaniser operating pressure was fixed so as to meet the residue gas battery limit pressure of 30 barg. colder or higher reflux flowrate will provide improved stripping of demethaniser column vapors.1 Rich 700 78. MMSCFD NGL unit inlet pressure.2 77.     Page 16  .48 131.4 Higher differential pressure across expander results in lower temperatures and therefore higher recovery.7 2% 85.1  93. As seen from Figure 9.3 26420 17600 ‐66.4 -118 551. oC Sales gas product Flowrate MMSCFD Ethane Product Flowrate. Part of the inlet gas is used to generate reflux so maximum recovery achievable is limited by the vapor-liquid equilibrium in top section of the column.7 97.1 97. Table 7 Results Summary Design Case Gas Feed Rate. boosting the feed gas pressure improves the recovery of ethane. With this process over 75% (mole) Ethane and 97% (mole) LPG recovery was achieved.7 2% 85.7 98 97.9 25580 3794 ‐85. A reflux stream that is lighter.0  44.8 98.9  114.6 197.8 97.4 Normal 700 78.3 -118. kW Refrigeration Duty. Std M3/hr Lean 700 77. mol% Ethane Quality. mol% LPG Recovery. kW Demethaniser overhead temp. barg CO2 in feed gas. % Feed Gas Compression Power.Results Summary: Simulation results are summarized in Table 7. % LPG Quality.7 479.4 77.5 26260 10190 ‐76. MMSCFD LPG Product Flowrate.7 77. This will improve ethane and LPG recovery.

operating temperatures with rich gas will be relatively higher. For some of the cases this resulted in minor loss of efficiency due to higher operating temperature and pressure. 10 Rich gas with a greater quantity of liquefiable hydrocarbons produces a greater quantity of product. Conclusions: Use of mechanical refrigeration helps in achieving higher recoveries GSP has better tolerance for CO2 in feed gas Specifications and quality of both residue gas and ethane products are affected by the CO2 content of feed gas Although CO2 freezing was not a concern for the process under consideration. higher CO2 in feed gas results in lower quality of Ethane product. In this case there is adequate margin between the operating temperature and the CO2 freezing temperature. Also expansion of rich gas in the turboexpander produces relatively higher temperature compared to the expansion of lean gas. available margin over CO2 freezing temperature is also reduced. Effect of CO2 in feed gas It was observed that carbon dioxide in the feed gas splits between the recovered ethane product and the residue gas. Lean feed gas requires lower temperatures to achieve high recovery efficiencies. However heat integration is more effective as column operating temperature is lower. Higher refrigeration duty is required as the quantity of liquid to be condensed is more. Also. As a result. CO2 can also freeze in the low temperature sections of the process such as turboexpander outlet or demethaniser overhead section. As seen from Figure 11. In cases where adequate margin is not available. Higher CO2 content had effect on specifications for both products. Figure 12 demonstrates the impact of increasing the reflux flow by additional cold separator vapor or cold separator liquid to increase the margin of the operating temperature over CO2 freezing temperature. Process operating conditions were specified so as to ensure the product specifications are met. This results in lower temperature differential in process heat exchangers and therefore larger heat exchangers and higher equipment cost for a given recovery efficiency. this can be obtained by increasing the CO2 recovery in demethaniser bottom stream or by increasing heavier content in liquid in demethaniser overhead sections.Effect of Feed Gas richness As seen from Table 7 and Fig. Less refrigeration duty is required as the quantity of liquid to be condensed is less. it was identified that reflux flow rate can be optimized to improve recovery and to maintain adequate margin over CO2 freezing temperature     Page 17  .

and Wilkinson. Campbell.S.N. Patent 4. REFERENCES: 1. R.. H. L. For high ethane recovery in the range of 80-90% GSP is to be considered. reducing the reflux temperature or by making the reflux stream lighter. U. Selection and optimization of compressor function is important for overall economics of the processing facility.. High CO2 in feed gas can affect specifications of residue gas as well as ethane product.D.904     Page 18  . This recovery can be improved by increasing reflux flow.. The process should operate in a region that avoids CO2freezing in low temperature sections. OHR process provides more efficient recovery of propane and heavier hydrocarbons (>90%) than the conventional expander design. Wilkinson J. 4.E. Buck. D. L.157.CONCLUSIONS Typical configurations of the gas plant using turbo expander based process are described. Operating pressure of light ends separation column is an important parameter for turbo expander based NGL recovery processes and is a tradeoff between the hydrocarbon recovery and the recompression power requirement. Three case studies are presented to illustrate the design principles and the considerations for process selection. GPSA Engineering Databook. More than 90% recovery of ethane will necessitate opting for licensed designs that are modifications of the GSP process.039 4. Conventional expander process with refluxed deethaniser is suitable for LPG recovery of the order of 70-85%. Split vapor processes like the GSP have better tolerance for CO2 in feed. R. Proceedings of the 77th GPA Annual Convention.617. Nigel Paton and Mr. 3. 11th Edition 2. “Next generation processes for NGL/LPG recovery”... Maximum recovery achievable with split vapor processes like GSP is limited by the vaporliquid equilibrium in the top section of the column. U. Compressors constitute 30-40% of total equipment cost and major portion of operating cost of a gas processing facility. Final process selection should be based on detailed cost benefit analysis considering CAPEX/OPEX for the proposed facility and the value of the products. J. Hudson.M. Important parameters that impact the process selection and design of a NGL recovery unit are discussed. Pitman. Feed gas compression or mechanical refrigeration may be required to achieve the ethane recovery. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We take this opportunity to thank Mr.. Patent No. Barend Vljoen for their assistance in reviewing the paper and giving valuable comments.S.

FIGURES Figure 1: Conventional Expander process     Page 19  .

Figure 2: Conventional Expander process with Refluxed deethaniser     Page 20  .

Figure 3: Overhead Recycle (OHR) Process Figure 4: Gas Sub-cooled Process (GSP)     Page 21  .

5 11.5 10. mol % LPG Recovery. mol % Absorber P Packed bed h height. % m mol Sales gas compressor  W Power.5 8. kW 75 70 65 60 : A acked Bed H Height on LPG Recover ry Figure 6: Effect of Absorber Pa 92.5 8 9. % mol  P R % l 80 14000 13000 12000 Propane Recovery. m   Page 2 22  .Figure 5: Effect of Deethaniser Pressure o Compres 5 on ssion Power and Propa Recover r ane ry 85 16000 15000 Propane Recovery.5 91 90.5 LPG Recovery.5 92 91.5 90 5.5 12. barg De Compression Power.5 7.5 6. KW 11000 10000 9000 9 8000 8 8 10 12 14 16 18 eethaniser  Col lumn Pressure e.

 kW 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 2500 35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 1500 LPG produc ct flow rate s std m3/day  3500 4500 5500   Page 2 23  LPG Recovery. mol % Exchanger Duty. kW . mol % LPG R l% 14200 13700 13200 12700 LP PG recovery mo ol % 12200 11700 11200 10700 18 19 90 88 86 84 82 80 78 Co ompression pow wer Absorbe er pressure. kW E h D kW 40000 Compression Power . barg 20 21 22 23 24 Figu 8: Effect of Feed Ga Richness ure t as 50000 45000 Deeth haniser reboile er  duty.k kW Total cooling  duty.Fi igure 7: Effe of Absor ect rber operati pressure on LPG R ing Recovery & Power 96 94 92 15200 14700 LPG Recovery.

 mol % 85.0 60. kW Refrigeration  Duty.0 80. MMSCFD     Demethaniser Overhead Temp. deg C ‐55 Page 24  .Figure 9: Feed Gas Compression Power Vs Ethane Recovery 90. kW ‐60 ‐65 ‐70 ‐75 ‐80 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 37 57 77 97 117 ‐85 ‐90 Ethane Product Rate.0 C2 Recovery.0 70.0 23000 24000 25000 26000 27000 28000 29000 30000 Feed Gas Compressor Power kW Figure 10: Effect of Feed Gas Richness 20000 18000 16000 ‐50 Refrigeration Duty.0 65.0 75.

00 31.0 87.5 3 3.00 27.0 89.00 9000 10500 12000 13500 Reflux Flow.5 1 1.00 25. mol % Page 25  .0 20.00 33.0 85.00 29.Figure 11: Effect of CO2 content in feed gas Margin over CO2 freezing Temp.00 35.0 CO2 in Feed.0 60.0 10.0 83. mol % Figure 12: Effect of Reflux flow on CO2 freezing CO2 Freezing  Temperature Margin 41.0 30.0 0 0.00 39.5 2 2.0 84.0 40.0 70.0 50.0 88. kgmol/h     Ethane Product Quality.5 CO2 Freezing  Margin 91.0 82. deg  C 80.0 86.0 90.00 37.

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