Poster PO-39

NATURAL GAS LIQUEFACTION PROCESSES COMPARISON COMPARAISON ENTRE PROCEDES DE LIQUEFACTION DE GAZ NATUREL
Pierre-Yves Martin Jérôme Pigourier Axens (France) www.axens.fr Béatrice Fischer IFP (France)

ABSTRACT This paper presents Axens efforts to compare LiquefinTM with the competing process, specially the reputed most efficient ones: C3/MR, C3/MR followed by nitrogen cycle, dual mixed refrigerant process with spiral wound exchangers. To compare properly one process to another, it must be done with the same gas, with the same site conditions, with the same gas turbines and with the same cooling medium temperature (air or water). That done, to compare processes like for like is still not that easy. For instance, it seems fair to take the same efficiencies for the compressors, however, axial and centrifugal compressors do have different efficiencies. Similarly, equal basis leads to have the same temperature approach for the air-cooler (or water coolers), however between mixed refrigerant and propane, the heat exchange area will be much lower for mixed refrigerant if the approach is kept identical. The end flash vapour quantity has also a big influence on the process efficiency, but each process has a different fuel gas consumption. Those added factors may lead to wide differences. Axens has calculated the effect of all those parameters on efficiency. The equipment characteristics play also an important role in the comparison: the limitations of axial compressors, of centrifugal compressors (Mach number) and possibly spiral-wound exchangers maximum size do have to be taken into account. Even the gas turbines or alternative drivers chosen can be well adapted to one process, but not to the other. Another important parameter is the LPG recovery: a large LPG recovery will decrease the efficiency of any process, but not to the same extent. For Liquefin, the efficiency decrease is not very big. This paper shows the detailed results of those comparison studies, and the effect of several parameters on Liquefin efficiency. RESUME Cet article présente le travail d’Axens pour comparer son procédé LiquefinTM aux autres procédés avec lesquels il est en compétition, et spécialement ceux réputés les plus efficaces : C3/MR, C3/MR suivi d’un cycle azote, DMR avec échangeur bobiné. Pour comparer sérieusement un procédé avec un autre, on doit considérer le même gaz, les mêmes conditions ambiantes, les même turbines à gaz , et le même moyen de refroidissement

PO-39.1
SESSIONS CONTENTS

cependant chaque procédé a une consommation de fuel gaz différente. and many factors must be considered to make a proper comparison. Tous ces facteurs combinés peuvent conduire à des différences importantes. The C3/MR process is well known (see figure 1): the MR and natural gas are pre-cooled with propane. La quantité vaporisée dans le flash final est très importante en terme d’efficacité du schéma. il n’est toujours pas si aisé d’avoir une comparaison honnête. ainsi que la taille maximum possible pour un échangeur bobiné doivent être prises en compte. SHELL a DMR process. Les caractéristiques des équipements jouent également un rôle important dans la comparaison : les limitations des compresseurs axiaux et centrifuges (le nombre de Mach). the new projects consider capacities of 5. cependant si on fait cela. LINDE a process with three mixed refrigerant cycles. So now many new processes are appearing: APCI has launched the APX process (C3/MR/N2 cycles). 6. this process is now reaching the technology limits: maximum mach number on the propane compressor. to the exception of Trinidad. Axens a calculé l’effet de chacun de ces paramètres sur l’efficacité. sometimes bigger gas turbines. mais pas dans la même mesure. OLD AND NEW PROCESSES All the natural gas liquefaction baseload plants built during the last twenty years or so are C3/MR units. sometimes 8 MTPA. However. Même les turbines à gaz ou les autres moyens d’entraînement des compresseurs peuvent être bien adaptés à un procédé. The mixed refrigerant is only partially condensed. De même. with small improvements. spiral wound exchanger becoming enormous. on aurait tendance à prendre la même approche thermique entre la température côté procédé et la température de l’air ambiant (ou de l’eau de mer). INTRODUCTION For many years. Liquefin a une baisse d’efficacité qui n’est pas trop importante dans ce cas. The old cascade process has come back in Trinidad. la surface d’échange sera beaucoup plus petite avec un mélange réfrigérant qu’avec du propane. The same process was implemented again and again. il semble normal de prendre la même efficacité pour les compresseurs. Par exemple. et l’effet de différents paramètres sur l’efficacité de Liquefin. and IFP/Axens another DMR with plate-fin heat exchangers. Deciding of the process to be used for a given project is now much more difficult. Nowadays. Ceci fixé.Poster PO-39 (air ou eau). at 3 or now 4 levels of pressure. and anyway bigger capacities along the years. L’article présente les résultats détaillés de ces études de comparaison. and separated before entering the large spiralwound exchanger. with a new concept. cependant les compresseurs axiaux et centrifuges n’ont pas la même efficacité. Un autre paramètre important est la récupération de GPL : une récupération poussée de GPL va faire chuter l’efficacité de tous les procédés. PO-39.2 SESSIONS CONTENTS . there was absolutely no problem to choose the process of a new liquefaction plant: C3/MR was the only choice. whereas the biggest unit in operation is below 4 MTPA. mais pas à l’autre.

with Frame 5 . The process (see figure 2) is arranged so as to have the same power on the three cycles.Poster PO-39 Trinidad plant is built with a cascade process (propane/ethylene/methane). and the restart of the compressor can be done without loss of refrigerant. with also several levels of pressure on each cycle .so as to have a high availability and easier operation: no compressor trip will shut down completely the unit. Another interesting feature is to install parallel lines of compression. Propane cycle CW CW MR cycle CW LNG Feed Gas Figure 1: C3/MR process simplified scheme CW CW C1 C2 2 Frame 5 2 Frame 5 CW C3 2 Frame 5 PFHE Feed gas PFHE PFHE LNG Figure 2: Cascade process PO-39.3 SESSIONS CONTENTS .variable speed gas turbine .

another spiral wound and plate-fin exchanger for the nitrogen cycle. spiral wound for the mixed refrigerant. so as to achieve with existing equipment much higher capacities (7 – 8 MTPA).4 SESSIONS CONTENTS . nitrogen. Compared to the C3/MR process. mixed refrigerant.Poster PO-39 APCI APX process [1] This process (see figure 3) is a three cycle process: propane. Propane cycle MR cycle CW N2 Cycle LNG CW CW CW Feed Gas Figure 3: APX process simplified scheme LNG Natural gas First mixed refrigerant cycle Figure 4: Shell DMR process simplified scheme PO-39. The exchangers used are kettles for the propane. the new third cycle allows to decrease the propane and MR flow-rates.

(see figure 7) LINDE process [3] Liquefaction MR cycle Pre-cooling MR cycle Sub-cooling MR cycle Natural gas Plate-fin Exchangers Spiral-wound heat-exchanger Spiral-wound heat-exchanger LNG Figure 5: LINDE process simplified scheme This process is a three cycle process. Having mixed refrigerant on the first cycle allows to have a smaller condenser. but with mixed refrigerant on all cycles (see figure 5).5 SESSIONS CONTENTS . However. Plate-fin exchangers are used on the first cycle. The lower amount of mixed refrigerant on the cold cycle allows to reach much higher LNG capacities with the existing axial compressors. the compressor size. and also to remove the propane compressor bottleneck: For propane compressors. the efficiency is better. as mixed refrigerants allow to have a closer approach. Plate-fin heat exchanger are used for the whole exchange line. unlike the new cascade. thus the capacity of the unit is limited by the mach number at the tip of the blades. As for all processes with mixed refrigerant on the first cycle. the power is not the same on all three cycles. and spiralwound exchangers on the two colder cycles. with a lower molecular weight. PO-39. Compared to the cascade. and with two spiral-wound exchangers. the main condenser is smaller (see figure 11) and the compressor of the first cycle has a lower mach number (see figure 7). IFP/Axens Liquefin Process [4] [5] This process (see figure 6) is a dual mixed refrigerant process. like the cascade process. Using a mixed refrigerant. with the same power on both mixed refrigerant cycles. allows to push further this limit as the mach number is lower with this gas. with different power on the two cycles.Poster PO-39 SHELL DMR Process [2] This process (see figure 4) is a dual mixed refrigerant process.

14 0.70 0.65 0. Biggest propane compressors 1.08 0.75 0.05 1.02 0.85 0.10 0.16 Peripheral Mach number (Mu) Flow Coefficient (φ1) Tip relative mach number (inlet) Flow Coefficient (φ1) Liquefin MR1 compressors (4. but also to some extend the axial compressor and the spiral-wound exchanger.70 0.Poster PO-39 CW CW Feed gas Heavy mixed refrigerant compression line Scrubber Hot Oil CW Main exchange line Light mixed refrigerant compression line LNG Figure 6 : Simplified Liquefin process scheme All these processes were developed to overcome the technology limits reached by the C3/MR process.40 0.06 0.14 0.55 0.75 0.06 0.85 0.80 0.35 0.50 0.8MTPA) Figure 7 : Mach number vs flow coefficient for the first stage compressor (propane or MR) PO-39.45 0.25 1.60 0.12 0.90 0.6 SESSIONS CONTENTS .65 0.95 0.12 0.02 0.00 0. The main limitations being the propane compressor as explained already .20 1.04 0.55 0.16 1.30 0.15 1.04 0.80 0.45 0.95 0.08 0.90 0.60 0.10 0.40 0.10 1.50 0.00 0.

In many cases however. this is a large decrease of LNG production (but a simplification of the scheme: removing of the end flash compressor).5 % on the LNG production. which can change hugely the result: end flash quantity. already huge. and the efficiency of the plant. the LNG production will be increased by 5% PO-39. Another possibility would be to have 2 spiral-wound exchangers in parallel. So for very high capacities.Poster PO-39 To require proven compressors imposes to fit the light refrigerant flow-rate and pressure ratio to one existing axial compressor. The quantity of end flash usually corresponds to the plant fuel gas consumption (minus some margin). SIMULATION PARAMETERS To compare one process with another. The size of the spiral wound exchanger. In case the process could not accommodate an axial compressor. On LIQUEFIN. This axial compressor will be used on the coolest stage of the refrigeration. but it would increase the cost and the delivery time. the cold end temperature of the main exchange line will increase. If the end flash can be increased by 40%. LNG Production vs End Flash Quantity 106 105 LNG production 104 103 102 101 100 100 110 120 End flash quantity 130 140 Figure 8 : Effect on LNG production of end flash quantity If no end flash is wanted for any reason. cannot be increased forever. If it is possible to increase this quantity (fuel gas export to other plants. The use of axial compressor is also beneficial for operation: the inlet vanes possible angle variation will be very useful for control. etc). there will be an efficiency penalty : one consider usually a polytropic efficiency of 86% for the axial compressors instead of 82% for the centrifugal compressors. the simulations give a difference of about 1. This is another constraint making difficult to increase very much the LNG production with a proven process. it is necessary to be very careful about several parameters. The figure 8 shows the production variation with the quantity of end flash. but with an efficiency penalty. compressor efficiencies.7 SESSIONS CONTENTS . it would be necessary to increase the LMDT of this exchanger to stay within a feasible size. End Flash Quantity. recycle. condenser temperature approach. thus the quantity of LNG produced will increase. the quantity of fuel gas cannot be decreased below a certain quantity because of the nitrogen content of the feed gas. LPG recovery.

8 SESSIONS CONTENTS . LNG Production vs Compressor Polytropic Efficiency 105 104 103 LNG Production 102 101 100 99 98 97 96 95 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 Compressors Polytropic Efficiency Figure 9 : Effect on LNG production of compressor efficiency Temperature Approach on The Main Condenser Whatever the process. the LNG production will be increased. The closer the temperature approach. and thus the overall efficiency. PO-39. With a pure component. or a mixed refrigerant (Liquefin and Linde process). (see figure 11). the condensation is done at a fixed temperature (the dew point temperature is the same as the bubble point temperature). the larger the LNG production. However. the LNG production can vary a lot: the LNG production is increased by nearly 10% when the polytropic efficiency is changed from 79 to 85% (see figure 9). in air-cooling case. a large condenser on the first refrigerant cycle must evacuate the heat produced by the refrigeration compressors. This has to be checked carefully when making comparisons. We have plotted for a Liquefin case the capacity versus the temperature approach of the condenser (see figure 10). the size of this condenser can be a problem. as it governs more or less the size of the plant area. to modify the outlet temperature of this condenser will change the discharge pressure of the corresponding compressor. Depending upon the compressor efficiency considered. or inversely with the same condenser size. The temperature approach of the other coolers will also have an impact on the power. whereas with a mixed refrigerant. so a part of the cost. Compressor Efficiency. Either the condenser will be much smaller with a mixed refrigerant in the first cycle. but less important than this one.Poster PO-39 with the same power on the refrigeration compressors (but of course more power on the fuel gas compressors). The size of the condenser will depend upon whether the refrigerant of the first cycle is a pure component (propane as in the C3/MR and cascade). This also must be checked carefully for process comparison. As the outlet of this condenser is at bubble point. the temperature varies linearly between the dew point temperature and the bubble point temperature. so the power of this compressor.

PO-39. To recover LPG from the gas can help sometimes to make the project economically sound. this recovery will increase the power for LNG liquefaction.0% 100.5% Plant Capacity (%) 102.0% 101. We have simulated for LIQUEFIN the effect on efficiency of different C3 recovery ratios with a very lean gas (1. However. nor for all gas compositions.2% C3 only).5% 101.0% 102.0% 39 40 41 42 °C 43 44 45 Figure 10: Effect on LNG production of condenser temperature approach Inlet temperature 60 MR Condensation 55 50 Temperature °C 45 40 35 30 Air or Water 25 20 0 50 100 150 200 250 DUTY MW 300 350 Larger LMDT (+35%) CONDENSER 35% Smaller Propane Condensation outlet temperature Figure 11: Effect of using propane or mixed refrigerant on the size of the condenser LPG Recovery.5% 100.9 SESSIONS CONTENTS . and not with the same amount for all processes.Poster PO-39 Plant capacity vs MR1 Condenser Outlet temperature 103.

Pek . REFERENCES CITED 1. M.Fischer.Poster PO-39 LNG production vs LPG recovery 100 99 LNG production (%) 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 91 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 C3 recovery (% of C3 in feed) Figure 12 : LNG production decrease with increased LPG recovery CONCLUSION To solve the capacity increase problem.C.LNG13. 2001 4.Fischer .A Novel Concept for Large LNG Baseload Plants . Roberts. Khakoo . J.10 SESSIONS CONTENTS .The Next Generation of LNG plants . compressor efficiency. Qatar 2. taking into account all parameters including site conditions.M. end flash quantity. J. J.A New Process To Reduce LNG Cost . Petrowski . M. Bauer . Kauffman.AICHE Spring National Meeting. B.C. R. B. 2002 PO-39. The comparison of these processes for a specific case must be done with care. the flexibility of Liquefin could make it the right choice in many cases.Large Capacity Single Train AP-X Hybrid LNG Process . temperature approach and LPG recovery.AICHE Spring National Meeting. Nibbelke. The equipment availability and risk factor must also be taken into account.Gastech 2002. S. many new processes have proposed solutions. In this respect. H. Yu-Nan Liu.GPA 81st annual convention. 2002 3.Liquefaction Process Comparison of C3MR and DMR for Tropical Conditions . B. Seoul. 2001 5.Raillard . Korea. Bronfenbrenner.J.

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