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SPE 87262 Twister Supersonic Gas Conditioning Process

Dr. Fred T. Okimoto, Salim Sibani and Michael Lander, Twister B.V.
Copyright 2000, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Inc.
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 9th Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference held in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., 15-18 October 2000. This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.

This is done without chemicals or rotating equipment, and requiring minimum space and weight, thus saving significant capital and operating costs.

Twister Supersonic Separator is an innovative and revolutionary gas processing system. The Twister technology was developed by Shell. Twister B.V. was launched as a separate company in April 2000 by Shell Technology Investments Partnership, a 50/50 venture between Shell and the Beacon Group. Twister Supersonic Separator is the resulting synergy from combining aero-dynamics with the traditional gas processing concepts of thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. Twister is based on the following concepts (Figure 1): Gas is expanded in a Laval nozzle to supersonic velocities with resulting lower temperatures. Nucleation of water and hydrocarbon occur, followed by growth of liquid droplets. The gas and liquid droplets enter the wing section, where a very high swirl is created and the liquid droplets are centrifuged onto the walls, creating a liquid film. The gas and liquids are separated in the drainage section. Pressure is recovered in the diffuser section, to about 7080% of the initial pressure.

Figure 2 shows the phase envelope of a natural gas and the water concentration curve. Twister is compared with the Joule-Thompson Valve and the TurboExpander. In this example all three processes have the same outlet pressure (sales pressure), which is typical for most applications. Joule-Thompson is an adiabatic process and the least efficient. Turbo-expander is near 85% isentropic efficiency, so it goes deeper into the phase envelope and uses its re-compressor to reach the outlet pressure. However, Twister has about 90% isentropic efficiency, so it goes the deepest into the phase envelope, then recompresses without rotating equipment to the outlet pressure. Twister is effectively a turboexpander/separator/re-compressor all in one static piece of equipment. Thus, from a theoretical point of view, Twister has the most favorable thermodynamics. The challenge is to translate this theoretical advantage into the operations of actual gas plants. There are many potential Twister applications (dehydration, dew pointing, C5+, LPG, C2, LNG, CO2/H2S, etc.), so it is important to focus our technical resources in a limited number of development areas. On this basis,

FRED T. OKIMOTO, SALIM SIBANI, MICHAEL LANDER

SPE 87262

Twister technology development is currently focused on markets for the following applications:

Twister Supersonic Separator simplifies operation as well as having significant space and weight savings. The Twister team has been handling scouting and feasibility studies for Shell operating companies, and since being launched in April 2000 is working with a number of major oil and gas companies to identify the potential for the technology on a Global scale. Initial sales with Shell operating companies are being progressed in Malaysia for offshore dehydration and in Nigeria for onshore dewpointing. As part of the effort in Nigeria, a test unit will be installed in Nigeria by end 2000 to demonstrate the technology under local operating conditions. A feasibility study for Shell Nigeria compared a Twister system with JouleThompson Valve/LTS and mechanical refrigeration. The study was for an associated gas gathering project with a capacity 100 MMSCFD (about 3 MM Sm3/d). Gas is conditioned to meet water and hydrocarbon dew point specifications of 15C at 60 bar. Gas export pressure is 60 bar with condensate and water processed in the oil facilities. Table 1 shows the comparison of results based on the total facilities including a compression train and estimated total life cycle costs.

Gas dehydration (water dew point) Hydrocarbon dew point C5+ recovery

The Twister team has a very extensive and concerted R&D programme with universities and research laboratories to improve the process. Figure 3 shows the air/water test unit. The results from the air/water units are verified in direct natural gas testing in field trials. Another area of development is the simulation of the flow dynamics in Twister in order to predict its performance. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is being applied as an integrated tool in the design. Figure 4 shows the build up of the vortex filament in the Twister wing section. The vectors in these plots represent the tangential velocity component whereas the colors denote the axial velocity component (red is high and blue is low). Figure 5 shows the simplicity of a Twister dewpointing skid compared with a traditional glycol injection, JouleThompson valve and low temperature separation system. Twister device performs both hydrocarbon and water dew pointing in a single unit, which removes the need for multiple processes and associated chemicals such as glycol. In particular, the elimination of glycol regeneration significantly reduces hydrocarbon emissions to the atmosphere. With no moving parts,

SPE 87262

TWISTER SUPERSONIC GAS CONDITIONING PROCESS

Figure 1. Concept of the Twister process

Primary flow (saturated gas)

Throat v = Mach 1

Supersonic wing (v Mach 1-3)

Liquid gas separation

Dry gas

FRED T. OKIMOTO, SALIM SIBANI, MICHAEL LANDER

SPE 87262

Figure 2. Phase Diagram of Twister compared with turbo-expander and JT valve.

DEWPOINT CURVE
100.0

HC CURVE H2O CURVE

80.0

JT-valve separation

PRES, BARA

60.0

JT-valve separation

40.0

Turbo exp. separation


Turbo exp. separation

Twister
20.0

Twister separation separation

0.0 -50.0 -30.0 -10.0 10.0 30.0 50.0

SPE 87262

TWISTER SUPERSONIC GAS CONDITIONING PROCESS

Figure 3. Air/water test facility for verification of Twister concepts.

FRED T. OKIMOTO, SALIM SIBANI, MICHAEL LANDER

SPE 87262

Figure 4. Velocity vector plots of four subsequent wing cross sections showing swirl generation.

SPE 87262

TWISTER SUPERSONIC GAS CONDITIONING PROCESS

Figure 5. Barendrecht Gas Plant in Holland. Simple Twister skid compared with traditional glycol injection JT valve system.

FRED T. OKIMOTO, SALIM SIBANI, MICHAEL LANDER

SPE 87262

Table 1. Comparison of results Twister Inlet pressure, bar Total power required, MW Plot size Equipment weight, metric ton 92 12.6 30m*25m 470 JT-LTS 129 14.7 37m*27m 520 145 Mechanical Refrigeration. 62 12.7 51m*33m 590 145

Total life-cycle cost, $US million 125