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What is Natural Gas?

An odorless, colorless, gaseous hydrocarbon mixture made up of methane (CH4)

and a small percentage of other light hydrocarbons. Natural gas is found
naturally underground or produced by gasification of coal. Natural gas is the
cleanest burning fossil fuel.

What is a Hydrocarbon?

A hydrocarbon is a substance consisting of both Hydrogen and Carbon atoms

What is Methane?

Methane (CH4) the simplest hydrocarbon that constitutes

one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. It is the primary
constituent of natural gas. It is colorless, odorless and

What are the Sources of Natural Gas?

Offshore Production Platform Drilling a Gas Well

Natural gas occurs naturally in deep formations of the

earth. These formations contain nonporous traps that
contain the natural gas and are often called reservoirs.
Natural gas is also found associated with crude oil
reservoirs and may be produced commercially along
with oil. Natural gas is considered a fossil fuel as it was
produced along millions of years as a result of the
degradation of plant and animal decomposition in the
soil that has been covered by rocks and sand for
millions of years. The animals and plants being buried

A Three Dimensional Gas Reservoir View Based on Seismic Analysis

under huge sand and rock formations for extended periods, thus subjected to
extended temperatures and pressures, decomposed to give up crude oil and
natural gas.

The Main Constituents of Natural Gas:

As described before hydrocarbons are the main constituents of natural gas,

mainly straight chain hydrocarbons or aliphatic compounds extending from
methane (CH4) as a main constituent up to heavier hydrocarbons as hexane and
heavier compounds which are little in amount in a manner that makes them
dispersed in the gas phase although if alone they would be in the liquid phase.
In the natural gas industry the constituents are referred to as follows:

Component Formula
Methane CH4 (CH4)
Ethane CH3-CH3 (C2H6)
Propane CH3-CH2-CH3 (C3H8)
Normal Butane (N-Butane) N-CH3-CH2-CH2-CH3 (N-C4H10)
Iso Butane (I-Butane) I- CH3-CH2-CH2-CH3 (I-C4H10)
Normal Pentane (N-Pentane) N-CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3 (N-C5H12)
Iso Pentane (I-Pentane) I- CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3 (I-C5H12)

Some Other Constituents of Natural Gas:

Some other components can be found in natural gas. Some of which are
hydrocarbons and some are not. As for hydrocarbons, components heavier than
pentane are present as hexane, heptane and heavier, also some cyclic
compounds as benzene, toluene and xylene may be present. These compounds
are normally of liquid nature but as they are of little percent of the gas mix, they
are dispersed in the gas phase and they only liquefy under certain conditions.
The main non-hydrocarbon components are nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water,
hydrogen sulfide and mercury.

Component Formula
Hexane CH3-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3(C6H14)
Heptane C7H16


Toluene CH3

Carbon dioxide CO2
Nitrogen N2
Water H2O
Hydrogen Sulfide H2S
Mercury Hg

1 Claus process
1.1.1 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Claus process is the most significant gas desulfurizing process, recovering elemental
sulfur from gaseous hydrogen sulfide. First invented over 100 years ago, the Claus
process has become the industry standard.

The multi-step Claus process recovers sulfur from the gaseous hydrogen sulfide found in
raw natural gas and from the by-product gases containing hydrogen sulfide derived from
refining crude oil and other industrial processes. The by-product gases mainly originate
from physical and chemical gas treatment units (Selexol, Rectisol, Purisol and amine
scrubbers) in refineries, natural gas processing plants and gasification or synthesis gas
plants. These by-product gases may also contain hydrogen cyanide, hydrocarbons, sulfur
dioxide or ammonia.

Gases with an H2S content of over 25% are suitable for the recovery of sulfur in straight-
through Claus plants while alternate configurations such as a split-flow set up or feed and
air preheating can be used to process leaner feeds.[1]

Hydrogen sulfide produced, for example, in the hydrodesulfurization of refinery naphthas

and other petroleum oils, is converted to sulfur in Claus plants.[2] The overall main
reaction equation is:

2H2S + O2 S2 + 2H2O

In fact, the vast majority of the 64,000,000 metric tons of sulfur produced worldwide in
2005 was byproduct sulfur from refineries and other hydrocarbon processing plants.[3][4]
Sulfur is used for manufacturing sulfuric acid, medicine, cosmetics, fertilizers and rubber

1.2 Contents
1 History
2 Process description
o 2.1 Catalytic step
3 Process performance
4 See also
5 References

1.3 [edit] History

The process was invented by Carl Friedrich Claus, a chemist working in England. A
British patent was issued to him in 1883. The process was later significantly modified by
a German company called I.G.Farbenindustrie A.G.[5]

1.4 [edit] Process description

A schematic process flow diagram of a basic 3-Bed Claus unit is shown below:

The Claus technology can be divided into two process steps, thermal and catalytic.

In the thermal step, hydrogen sulfide-laden gas reacts in a substoichiometric combustion

at temperatures above 850 C such that elemental sulfur precipitates in the downstream
process gas cooler.

The H2S-content and the concentration of other combustible components (hydrocarbons
or ammonia) determine the location where the feed gas is burned. Claus gases (acid gas)
with no further combustible contents apart from H2S are burned in lances surrounding a
central muffle by the following chemical reaction:

2H2S + 3O2 2SO2 + 2H2O

Gases containing ammonia, such as the gas from the refinery's sour water stripper (SWS),
or hydrocarbons are converted in the burner muffle. Sufficient air is injected into the
muffle for the complete combustion of all hydrocarbons and ammonia. Air to the acid gas
is controlled such that in total 1/3 of all hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is converted to SO2. This
ensures a stoichiometric reaction for the Claus reaction (see next section below).

The separation of the combustion processes ensures an accurate dosage of the required air
volume needed as a function of the feed gas composition. To reduce the process gas
volume or obtain higher combustion temperatures, the air requirement can also be
covered by injecting pure oxygen. Several technologies utilizing high-level and low-level
oxygen enrichment are available in industry, which requires the use of a special burner in
the reaction furnace for this process option.

Usually, 60 to 70% of the total amount of elemental sulfur produced in the process are
obtained in the thermal process step.

The main portion of the hot gas from the combustion chamber flows through the tube of
the process gas cooler and is cooled down such that the sulfur formed in the reaction step
condenses. The heat given off by the process gas and the condensation heat evolved are
utilized to produce medium or low-pressure steam. The condensed sulfur is removed at
the gas outlet section of the process gas cooler.

A small portion of the process gas can be routed through a bypass inside of the process
gas cooler, as depicted in the figure. This hot bypass stream is added to the cold process
gas through a three-way valve to adjust the inlet temperature required for the first reactor.

1.4.1 [edit] Catalytic step

The Claus reaction continues in the catalytic step with activated aluminum(IV) or
titanium(IV) oxide, and serves to boost the sulfur yield. The hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
reacts with the SO2 formed during combustion in the reaction furnace, and results in
gaseous, elemental sulfur. This is called the Claus reaction:

2H2S + SO2 3S + 2H2O

The catalytic recovery of sulfur consists of three substeps: heating, catalytic reaction and
cooling plus condensation. These three steps are normally repeated a maximum of three
times. Where an incineration or tail-gas treatment unit (TGTU) is added downstream of
the Claus plant, only two catalytic stages are usually installed.

The first process step in the catalytic stage is the process gas heating. It is necessary to
prevent sulfur condensation in the catalyst bed, which can lead to catalyst fouling. The
required bed operating temperature in the individual catalytic stages is achieved by
heating the process gas in a reheater until the desired operating bed temperature is

Several methods of reheating are used in industry:

Hotgas bypass: which involves mixing the two process gas streams from the
process gas cooler (cold gas) and the bypass (hot gas) from the first pass of the
Wasteheat boiler.
Indirect Steam reheaters: the gas can also be heated with high pressure steam in a
heat exchanger.
Gas/Gas Exchangers: whereby the cooled gas from the process gas cooler is
indirectly heated from the hot gas coming out of an upstream catalytic reactor in a
gas-to-gas exchanger.
Direct-fired Heaters: fired reheaters utilizing acid gas or fuel gas, which is burned
substoichiometrically to avoid oxygen breakthrough which can damage Claus

The typically recommended operating temperature of the first catalyst stage is 315C to
330C (bottom bed temperature). The high temperature in the first stage also helps to
hydrolyze COS and CS2, which is formed in the furnace and would not otherwise be
converted in the modified Claus process.

The catalytic conversion is maximized at lower temperatures, but care must be taken to
ensure that each bed is operated above the dewpoint of sulfur. The operating temperatures
of the subsequent catalytic stages are typically 240C for the second stage and 200C for
the third stage (bottom bed temperatures).

In the sulfur condenser, the process gas coming from the catalytic reactor is cooled to
between 150 and 130C. The condensation heat is used to generate steam at the shell side
of the condenser.

Before storage, liquid sulfur streams from the process gas cooler, the sulfur condensers
and from the final sulfur separator are routed to the degassing unit, where the gases
(primarily H2S) dissolved in the sulfur are removed.

The tail gas from the Claus process still containing combustible components and sulfur
compounds (H2S, H2 and CO) is either burned in an incineration unit or further
desulfurized in a downstream tail gas treatment unit.

1.5 [edit] Process performance

Using two catalytic stages, the process will typically yield over 97% of the sulfur in the
input stream. Over 2.6 tons of steam will be generated for each ton of sulfur yield.