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Gas Conditioning

g & Processing
(Glycol & Adsorption Dehydrations)


Prof.Dr.Ir.. Slamet, MT
p of Chemical Engineering
g g
Faculty of Engineering, University of Indonesia, Depok 16424
January 2011
O tli
t d ti
Basic Glycol Dehydration Unit
B i Process
Basic P Design
D i Factors
F t
- Minimum lean TEG concentration
- Absorber Design
- TEG Regeneration
Adsorption Dehydration
- Basic System
- The Nature of Adsorption
- Adsorber Design
- Regeneration Design 2
y is the pprocess of removingg water from a ggas and/or liquid
q so that
no condensed water is present in the system.
Inhibition is the process of adding some chemical to the condensed water so
hydrates cannot form.
Water is the source of both hydrates and corrosion/erosion problems.
In some instances, inhibition may be the preferred process, particularly in
sweet systems employing moderate refrigeration( -40 C).
Natural gas is commercially dehydrated in one of three ways: (???)
– Absorption Glycol Dehydration
– Adsorption Mol Sieve, Silica Gel, or Activated Alumina
– Condensation Refrigeration with Glycol or Methanol Injection
Glycol dehydration(( absorption)) is the most common dehydration process
used to meet pipeline sales specifications and field requirements (gas lift, fuel,
dso pt o pprocesses
ocesses aaree used too ob
a very
e y low
o water
a e co
e s (0(0.1 pp
ppm oor
less) required in low temperature processing such as deep NGL extraction
and LNG plants. 4
Condensation is commonly used as a dehydration process
when moderate levels of refrigeration are employed or in
pipeline transportation. An inhibitor such as ethylene glycol
((EG)) or methanol is used to pprevent hydrate
y formation.
Four glycols are used for dehydration and/or inhibition:
1. Monoethylene glycol (MEG) – often referred to as ethylene glycol
2. Diethylene glycol (DEG)
3. Triethylene glycol (TEG)
4. Tetraethylen
y gglycol
y ((TREG))
TEG is the most common glycol used in absorption systems.
MEG ((EG)) is the most common glycol
g y used in glycol
g y injection
Compared to TEG, DEG has a larger carry-over loss, offers
lower ddewpoint
i t ddepression,
i andd regeneration
ti tot high
hi h
concentrations is more difficult. For these reasons, it is difficult to
justify a DEG unit, although a few are built each year.
TREG is more viscous and more expensive than the other
processes. The only real advantage is its lower vapor pressure
which reduces absorber carry-over loss. It may be used in those
l ti l rare cases where
h glycol
l l ddehydration
h d ti will ill bbe employed
l d
on a gas whose temperature exceeds about 50 C. o

In recent
ece t years
yea s some
so e units
u ts have
a e employed
e p oyed ppropylene
opy e e glycol
g yco
(PG). PG is the least toxic glycol and has a lower affinity for
aromatics, but PG has a much higher vapor pressure than TEG,
and a much lower flash point.
TEG is the most common glycol used in absorption systems.
Criteria of water absorbent
Highly hygroscopic
Do no solidify in a concentrated solution
Do not form precipitates with gas constituents
Easily regenerated to a high concentrtation
Can be separated easily
Essentially nonsoluble in liquid hydrocarbon
Relativelyy stable in the ppresence of sulfur compounds
p and CO2 under normal
operating condition.
DEG (diethylene glycol)
TEG (triethylene glycol) Possess suitable traits
traits, but TEG
TREG (tetraethylene glycol) is most suitable
The following Figure (Fig. 18.1) shows the basic glycol unit.
Th entering
The i wet gas enters theh b bottom off the
h absorber
b b and d fl
flows counter-
current to the glycol. The dried gas leaves the top of the absorber.
The lean glycol enters onto the top tray and flows downward, absorbing
water as it goes.
Glycol-gas contact occurs on trays or packing. Bubble cap trays have been
used historically but structured packing is more common today.
The rich glycol then enters a flash tank where most of the volatile
components (entrained and soluble) are vaporized. Flash tank pressures are
typically 44-102 psia.
Leaving the flash tank the rich glycol flows through the glycol filters and the
lean-rich exchanger where it exchanges heat with the hot lean glycol. The
rich glycol then enters the still column where the water is removed by
The regeneration unit is designed to operate at atmospheric pressure.
pressure The
initial thermal decomposition temperatures of the glycols are described in
the following Table. 8
Fig. 18.1. Basic Glycol Dehydration Unit
Normally, no air (oxygen), it has been found that one can operate the
reboiler veryy close to the above temperatures
p without noticeable
Maximum concentrations achievable in an atmospheric regenerator opera-
ting at decomposition temperature are also shown in the above table.
Sulfur compounds & CO2 are very soluble in water & react to some degree
with the glycols.
Degassing in the flash tank prior to the stripping column reduces their
concentration and minimizes high temperature corrosion.
corrosion This degassing is
more efficient if the rich glycol is preheated first.
TEG Regeneration Alternatives
A typical
yp stripping
pp g ggas system
y is shown in Figure
g 18.2(a).
( ) Anyy inert ggas is
suitable. A part of the gas being dehydrated, or exhaust from a gas-powered
glycol pump (if used), is suitable. The quantity required is small.
The stripping gas may be introduced directly into the reboiler or into a packed
stripping column"
"stripping column between the reboiler and surge tank. In theory, adding gas
to a packed unit between the reboiler and surge tank is superior and will result
in lower stripping gas rates.
If introduced directly to the reboiler, it is common to use a distributor pipe
along the bottom of the reboiler.
A second stripping gas alternative is to close the stripping gas loop and use a
material like iso-octane, as shown in Figure 18.2(b). It vaporizes at reboiler
temperature but can be condensed and separated from the water in a three-
phase separator
separator. The stripping solvent is then pumped back to the regenerator
to complete the stripping loop.
Sold under the trade name DRIZO, this unit has the advantage of providing
very high stripping gas rates with little or no venting of hydrocarbons. Glycol
i in
i excess off 99
99 wt%% hhave bbeen achieved
hi d withi h the
process. It has an added advantage of condensing and recovering aromatic
hydrocarbons from the still column overhead. 11
Fig. 18.2.
TEG Regeneration
R ti

TEG Regeneration Alternatives
In practice, these units often operate with a stripping solvent which is not iso-
octane but a mixture of aromatic, naphthenic and paraffin hydrocarbons in the
C5-C10 range.

Figure 18.2(c) shows a third regenerator alternative called a COLDFINGER

process, that achieves glycol enrichment by passing a cooling medium (often
the rich glycol) through a cool "finger" inserted in the surge tank vapor space.
This condenses a water-TEG mixture which is rich in water. This mixture is
drawn out of the surge tank by means of a trough below the "coldfinger" and is
recycled back to the regenerator.
Thee H2O pa
t a pressure
p essu e in tthee su
ge ta
tank vapor
apo space iss tthus
us lowered
o e ed
and the lean glycol concentration increased.
It is claimed that lean TEG concentrations of 99.5-99.9 wt% have been
achieved in COLDFINGER units without the use of stripping gas, although a
small amount of gas is introduced into the surge tank for pressure balancing.

Offshore Glycol Dehydration Installation
Fig. 18.3:
Fig 18 3: Three
phase separation is required.
required The gas rises through a
"chimney tray" to the absorber. The hydrocarbon and water are separated as
Three phase separation saves on deck space and is less expensive,
Three-phase expensive but many
of the existing units are unsatisfactory because they provide inadequate
separation. This is particularly true when the absorber utilizes structured
The rich TEG from the chimney tray goes to a degassing pot (flash tank) which
is operated at a high enough pressure to send the gas to fuel or
The purpose of this is several fold: (1) use or dispose safely any volatile
components picked up by the TEG in the absorber, and (2) minimize the
presence of corrosive sulfur compounds and carbon dioxide in the high
temperature reboiler.
Fig 18.3.
Fig. 18 3 Example Offshore Glycol Dehydration Installation

Degassing in flash tank
The true solubility of paraffin hydrocarbons is very low in the glycols. But, separator
carryover and entrainment does introduce hydrocarbons into the rich glycol. glycol Many of
these are "heavier“ than air and can be a safety problem unless disposed of
In addition, aromatic components are very soluble in TEG. These can also be a
f t andd environmental
i t l concern when
h di discharged
h d tto atmospheric
t h i att th
the ttop off th
Both sulfur compounds and CO2 are soluble in water and react to some degree with
the gglycols.
y The degassing
g g in the flash tank pprior to the stripping
pp g column reduces
their concentration in the glycol. This degassing is more efficient if the rich glycol is
first preheated, usually in the rich-lean glycol exchanger.
The glycol cooler is a gas-TEG exchanger in Figure 18.3, as opposed to cooling
medium in Figure 18.1.
18 1 This is a common method of cooling the lean glycol. glycol It is
simple and inexpensive and ensures the glycol enters the contactor warmer than the
gas. The gas-glycol exchanger can result in excessively high lean TEG
temperatures at low gas flowrates.
The rich-lean
rich lean exchanger in Figure18
Figure18.33 is a coil in the surge tank
tank. This is inexpensive
to build but often results in poor heat transfer and higher reboiler duties. Pipe-in-pipe
exchangers are widely used in this service 16

TEG is one of the simpler absorption process being employed in

the gas & petroleum industry.
In order to properly design a unit one needs to know:
Maximum gas flow rate,
Maximum temperature & pressure,
Gas composition,
composition and
Required water dew point or content of the outlet gas.
Basic calculations that should be done:
1. Minimum concentration of TEG in the lean solution entering the top
of the absorber to meet outlet gas water specification
2. Lean TEG circulation rate required to pick up from the gas needed
amount of water to meet the outlet gas water content specification
3 Amount of absorber contact
3. to produce the necessary approach to
equilibrium required in (1).
Minimum lean TEG concentration
Fig 18.4 is a reliable correlation to determine the minimum
lean TEG concentration.
Example 1: what equilibrium water dew point could be
obtained at 40oC with a lean glycol solution containing 99.5 wt
% TEG ?
In Fig. 18.4 locate 40oC on the abscissa, go vertically to the 99.5 wt % line
and then horizontally to the ordinate.
19oC as the equilibrium water dew point.
Read -19 point
The actual water dew point = 5-10 oC (9-18 oF) higher than the
equilibrium dew point. This “approach” can be used to specify
minimum lean glycol concentration,
concentration with the following
1. Establish the desired outlet water dew poiont (use Appendix 18C, if needed)
2. Substract the approach from (1) to find the corresponding equilibrium water
dew point
3. Use Fig. 18.4 to evaluate the minimum lean TEG concentration. 18
Mi i
Minimum lean
l TEG concentration
Example 2: The gas sales contract specifies an outlet water content
of 100 kg/106 std m3 at a pressure of 6.9 MPa. The inlet gas
temperature is 40oC. What minimum lean TEG concentration required?
For 100 kg/106 std m3 and 6.9
6 9 MPa,
MPa the equivalent dew point from a
correlation is -2oC (Appendix 18C).
If we use an 8oC approach the equilibrium dew point is -10oC.
From Fig. 18.4 at -10oC and 40oC contact temperature, wt % TEG = 99
The dashed line in Fig 18.4 at about 98.5 wt% represents the
concentration of lean TEG that can be produced routinely in a
regenerator operating at standard atmospheric pressure and 204oC
F) Concentration of 98
7 – 98.8
98 8 wt% are common,
common some to 99 99.1
wt% have been reported for a special case.
If the concentration obtained is < 98.5 wt%, use 98.5 wt% for the
calculation unless you plan to reduce the reboiler temperature below
204oC. A higher concentration of lean TEG than the minimum value
may be specified to minimize circulation rate and optimize cost. 19
Fig 18.4.
Fig. 18 4 Equilibrium H2O Dewpoint vs Temp
Temp. at
various TEG Concentration

Appendix 18C

Absorber Design
The absorber (contactor) is where the water is removed from the
gas by the process of physical absorption. The amount of water
removed depends on three factors:
– gglycol
y concentration
– glycol circulation rate
– number of contacts in absorber
The effect of gglycol
y concentration on water removal is illustrated in
Figure 18.4. As the TEG concentration increases, the equilibrium
water dewpoint decreases a lower water concentration in the
gas at the absorber outlet higher water removal.
The theoretical outlet water dewpoint (water content) is set by the
lean glycol purity.
The actual water dewpoint depends on the circulation rate and
b off trays
t or height
h i ht off packing
ki ( Fi
Figure 18
Economic optimum

Absorber Design

Absorber Design

Figure 18.6 a plot of Equation 18.2 and is convenient for manual calculations
L0 is the rate of lean TEG entering the top tray,
VN+1 is the gas rate entering the bottom tray

Calculation of Lean TEG Rate (L0) & N
Calculation of Lean TEG Rate for a Given Absorption
p Efficiencyy & N:
1. Calculate y0 (or W0)
2. Determine absorption efficiency
3. Use Equation 18.2 or Figure 18.6 to find absorption factor A for a given value of N.
4. Knowing VN+1 and K, solve A for L0, the lean TEG circulation rate.

Calculation of N for a Given Lean TEG Rate & Absorption Efficiency:

1. Calculate y0 (or W0)
2. Determine absorption efficiency
3. Calculate absorption factor A.
4. Determine N from Equation 18.2 or Figure 18.

The overall tray efficiency in a well-designed TEG unit will vary from 25-40%. It is
recommended that 25% be used for most applications. This provides an affordable
safety factor to help compensate for the inherent errors in the design specifications.
Equilibrium Relationships



(18.6) 30
Graphical Solutions

Appendix 18B (Fig 18B

N = 1.5

Appendix 18B (Fig 18B

N = 2.0

Contactor Diameter

Contactor Diameter

Contactor Diameter

Contactor Height

A minimum
minim m spacing of 610 mm [24 in] is recommended.
recommended It is essential that a
stable foam not fill the gas space between trays to prevent excessive glycol
loss. This spacing also allows a suitable liquid level in the downcomers.
A minimum weir length of 50% of the tower diameter is required to ensure
adequate liquid distribution across the tray.
For packed towers, equilibrium stages are converted to packing heights using
an HTU (Height of a Transfer Unit) or HETP (Height Equivalent to a
i l Pl
Plate (S
Contactor Height

Contactor Height

Contactor Height

Contactor Height

Liquid Distributor Design

The distance between
the top of the distributor
& the mist eliminator
0.6 m (2 ft)

TEG Regeneration
The required lean TEG concentration is produced in the regenerator. The
regenerator consists of a reboiler, still column and in some cases a gas stripping
The lean TEG concentration is controlled by adjustment of reboiler temperature,
pressure and the possible use of a stripping gas.
So long as no stripping gas is used, the concentration of the lean TEG leaving the
reboiler is independent of the rich TEG entering

Regeneration Parameters
Figure 18.12 has been calculated to predict regenerator performance.
Th minimum
The i i wt%
% lean
l TEG on the
h top abscissa
b i is
i ffoundd ffrom Figure
Fi 18
The wt% of rich TEG on the bottom abscissa is found from Equation 18.16.
The diagonal lines in the lower left portion of Figure 18.12 represent various
amounts of stripping gas for units where the stripping is sparged into the reboiler.
Three temperature lines are shown. Where high concentrations are desired, the
specification of 204 C (400 F) is normal unless the gas being dehydrated contains
oxygen. This is close to the thermal decomposition temperature (in air).
I th
In the usuall case where
h th the natural
t l gas oxygen ffree, th the use off 204 C (400 F) hash
proven satisfactory.
The diagonal lines at upper right in Figure 18.12 represent he effect of regeneration
ppressure in mmHg. g
Unless a vacuum is being used, it is customary to use the 760 mmHg line for design
Notice that at 760 mmHg pressure & a reboiler temperature of 204 C, Figure 18.12
shows a lean TEG concentration of 98 98.77 wt%
wt%. lf in using Figure 18.418 4 you obtain a
concentration less than this, use 98.7 wt% as the desired concentration when
utilizing Figure 18.12 49
Regeneration Parameters

Heat input
p to the regenerator
g is pprovided in the reboiler. The heat source is
usually direct fired with the fire-tubes immersed in a glycol bath.
Other heat sources include hot oil (or other heat transfer fluid) steam, or
electric resistance heating.
In any event,
event the temperature of the glycol in the reboiler should not exceed
204 C (400 F) due to the degradation of TEG at higher temperatures.
However, in order to maintain the glycol bath at a temperature at or slightly
below 204 C it is necessaryy to maintain the heat transfer surface at a
temperature above this value. This can lead to some degradation of the glycol
in contact with the heat transfer surface.
For this reason the following maximum flux rates should not be exceeded.
These flux rates,
rates in turn,
turn will set the heat transfer area.

Most glycol reboilers maintain the bath temperature near 204 C. C
Lower temperatures may reduce degradation but result in lower lean TEG concentrations
which, in turn, necessitate higher circulation rates or higher stripping gas rates.
Pressure effects on regenerator operation are not often fully appreciated. Lean TEG
concentrations are reduced by backpressure on the regenerator.
regenerator Typical backpressure for
venting to a LP flare system or condenser system may be as much as 3.5-7 kPa (0.5 to 1
For a regenerator operating at 204 C with no stripping gas, the effect of pressure in lean
TEG concentration is about 0.014
0 014 wt% /kPa ([0.1
([0 1 wt % /psi).
The reboiler duty depends on the TEG circulation ratio (liters TEG/H2O), the efficiency of
the rich-lean TEG exchanger, the reflux ratio, stripping gas rates and effectiveness of the
Heat balances indicate a required reboiler duty of 250-300 kJ/liter (900-1075 Btu/US gal). gal)
The reboiler duty should actually be sized to deliver 130-140 % of the expected duty to
provide for start-up, insulation losses, etc. A design value of 400 kJ/liter (1430 Bfu/US gal)
will typically provide sufficient heat input flexibility to meet any expected operating condition.
The reboiler duty should always be sized based on circulation pump capacity,
capacity not the
expected circulation rates.
Still Column
The still column is the "fractionator" portion of the regenerator. The column may be
packed or trayed.
Packed columns are more common and the packing is typically a random packing such
as stainless steel slotted rings.
g Packingg sizes range g from 16- 51 mm depending
p g on the
still column size with the larger packing used in the larger diameter columns.
Structured packing has also been used, and in very large units (diameters > 1 m), trays
have been installed.
The still column is sized based on standard ppacked tower sizingg correlations. Since the
vapor loading is often tied to the glycol circulation rate many correlations have been
developed which estimate the still column diameter as a function of TEG circulation rate.
One such correlation is shown below and is based on 25 mm (1 in) slotted ring packing.

Still Column
The reflux
Th fl ratio i employed
l d iin TEG systems iis very small. ll L/D values
typically range from 0.1 to 0.2 mols/mol. This is equivalent to
condensing 10-20 % of the total overhead vapor stream.
The reflux rate should be the minimum required to maintain the still
overhead temperature at the boiling point of water for the partial
pressure of water at the top of the regenerator.
When stripping
pp g gasg is used,, the water ppartial ppressure will be less than
1 atm. In fact, this is the principle which results in lower water
concentrations in the lean TEG.
Consequently, when stripping gas is used, the partial pressure of H2O
will be less than 1 atm
atm, hence the boiling point of water will be lower as
Figure 18.14 shows the recommended still column overhead
temperature as a function of the TEG circulation ratio and stripping gas
rate for a still column operating at 1 atm.
Glycol--Glycol HE

Lean Glycol Cooler


Operating Problems
One common symptom
O t off many problems
bl iis excess glycol
l l lloss. Thi
This lloss iis ddue tto one,
or a combination, of the following:

Glycols can react with sulfur compounds materials tend to
polymerize very corrosive & the glycol pH becomes lower.
Corrosion inhibitors alone cannot solve the problem satisfactorily.
The real solution is good mechanical design and good filtration
supplemented by a corrosion inhibitor.
Corrosion inhibitors which plate out on metal surfaces and form a film
can be effective in minimizing corrosion.
Judicious use of stainless steel can also be effective in minimizing
When the CO2 partial pressure is high,
high the rich TEG pH can be < 55. It
is often more effective to use stainless steel on the "rich" side of the
unit than to try to combat corrosion with inhibitors.
g 18.16 shows the solubilityy of H2S in TEG & Figure g 18.17 shows
solubility of CO2 in a 96.5 wt% TEG solution.
Figure 18.16 Solubility
of Hydrogen Sulfide in
TEG at Various Partial

g 18.17 CO2 Solubilityy in TEG 3.5 wt% H2O

Aromatic Absorption
In gas dehydration service, TEG will absorb limited quantities of
aromatic hydrocarbons BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene
and xylene) from the gas.
Figure 18.18 shows approximate absorption percentages for
BTEX components vs. TEG circulation rate and contactor
temperature at 6900 kPa (1000 psia).
The bulk of absorbed aromatics will be vented with the water
vapor at the top of the regenerator.
In some cases these aromatics can be condensed and
recovered, however the effectiveness of condensation declines
rapidly with increasing stripping gas rates.

Figure 18.18
18 18
Approximate BTEX
Absorption in TEG


Solid bed dehydration (also called dry desiccant or adsorption dehydra-
tion) is often the superior alternative in applications such as:
1. Dehydration to water dewpoints less than -40 to -50 C (-40 to -
58 F),
F) such as those required upstream of NGL extraction plants
utilizing expanders and LNG plants.
2. Hydrocarbon dewpoint control units where simultaneous
extraction of water and hydrocarbon is required to meet both of
the respective sales specifications - well suited for hydrocarbon
dewpoint control on lean, high pressure gas streams.
3. Simultaneous dehydration and sweetening of natural gas.
4. Dehydration of gases containing H2S where H2S solubility in
glycol can cause emission problems at the regenerator.
5 Dehydration and trace sulfur compound (H2S
5. (H2S, COS
mercaptan) removal for LPG and NGL streams.
Characteristics of Adsorbent Material
Large surface area for high capacity.
Possesses "activity" for the components to be removed.
Mass transfer rate is high.
Easily and economically regenerated.
Good activity retention with time.
S ll resistance
Small i t tto gas flflow.
High mechanical strength to resist crushing and dust formation.
Inexpensive, non-corrosive, non-toxic, chemically inert and
possesses a hi
highh bbulk
lk ddensity.
No appreciable change in volume during adsorption and
desorption, and should retain strength when "wet.,'

Characteristics of Adsorbent Material
Most commercial adsorbents will have a total surface area of 500-800
500 800
The materials which have a high surface area may be divided into
several general categories:
1. Bauxite - naturally occurring mineral composed primarily of Al2O3
2. Alumina - a purer, manufactured version of bauxite.
3. Gels – composed largely of SiO2 or alumina gel; manufactured by
chemical reaction.
4. Molecular Sieves - a calcium-sodium alumino-silicate (zeolite).
5. C b (charcoal)
Carbon ( h l) - a carbon
b product
d t ttreated
t d and
d activated
ti t d tto
have adsorptive capacity.
All but carbon are used for dehydration. Carbon has desirable
ti for
f hydrocarbon
h d b removall andd adsorption
d ti off certain
t i iimpurities
but possesses negligible water capacity 71
Desiccant Properties

Desiccant Properties

Desiccant Selection
The selection of a desiccant for a pparticular application
pp depends
p on
several factors:
– water dewpoint specification,
– presence of contaminants (especially sulfur compounds),
– coadsorption of heavy hydrocarbons, and
– cost.
All commercial desiccants are capable of producing water dewpoints
b l -60
below 60 C.C
In a well designed and properly operated unit, the following
dewpoints are achievable:

Desiccant Selection

Basic System

200-315 C

Flow directions
In gas dehydration, adsorption flow is almost always downward
because of the higher allowable velocity in this direction.
Most bed contamination occurs at the top.
top By regenerating
upward, the "steam" produced from the lower part of the bed
helps remove the contamination without spreading it throughout
the bed.
The flow direction for cooling is optional. Upflow cooling saves
two switching valves per tower (since unheated regeneration gas
may be
b used),
d) but
b t requires
i ddry gas.
Downflow cooling (same direction as adsorption) is preferred if
the cooling gas contains water.

Multiple Towers
There are several ways to use multiple towerstowers. As
shown in the illustration at left using three towers,
two are operating in adsorption in parallel with the
third being regenerated and cooled.
In this illustration,
illustration the shaded area inside towers 1
and 2 shows the progress of water adsorption in the
bed or the portion of the bed which is essentially
saturated with water.
Th adsorption
The d ti ffrontt in
i bed
b d 1 is
i llower th
than in
i bed
b d2
because it has been on-stream longer.
When the leading edge of this front reaches the
outlet, bed 1 will be switched to regeneration, and
beds 2 and 3 will be on adsorption.
A similar arrangement could be used with four
towers, with three on stream at a time.
Obviously the flow arrangement affects the cycle
time chosen.
Multiple Towers
The adsorption beds could also be arranged in series, with the
fresher bed (lag bed) downstream of the partially saturated bed
(lead bed).
This allows longer adsorption cycles and fully utilizes the
equilibrium capacity of the desiccant; however, at a given
flowrate,, larger
g diameter towers would be required
q and the
system pressure drop would be greater.
Another variation on the 3-tower system is shown in Figure 19.2.
In this system one bed is in adsorption,
adsorption one in heating
heating, and one
in cooling. This scheme is often used in Short Cycle (< 1 h) or
Hydrocarbon Recovery Units when simultaneous adsorption of
C5+ hydrocarbons
y and water is required.
Desiccant Capacity
The capacity of a desiccant for water is expressed normally in mass of water
adsorbed per mass of desiccant.
There are three capacity terms used:
1. Static Equilibrium Capacity (Fig. 19.5) - the water capacity of new,
unused desiccant as determined in an equilibrium cell with no fluid flow.
2. Dynamic Equilibrium Capacity - the water capacity of new, unused
desiccant where the fluid is flowing through the desiccant at a
commercial rate.
3 Useful Capacity - the design capacity that recognizes loss of desiccant
capacity with time as determined by experience and economic
considerations and the fact that the desiccant bed never can be fully
Th static
The t ti equilibrium
ilib i capacityit hhas no di
directt use iin ddesign
i although
lth h it shows
h th
effect of P, T and water saturation on capacity.
As later calculations will illustrate, dynamic and useful capacity are used directly
in calculations. Dynamic capacity
p y is typically
yp y 50-70% of static equilibrium
All desiccants degrade in service (Figure 19.6) 84
Figure 19.5 Static
Equilibrium Curves for
i commercial
i l

Desiccant Capacity

Effect of Temperature

MTZ Length
Equation 19.2 is a simple relationship and is based on MTZ
(mass transfer zone) values for air drying. It can be used to
estimate MTZ lengths for natural gas dehydration.
MTZ can vary from 0.1 to 0.2 meters up to 1.5 to 2.0 meters.
For silica gel
gel, the MTZ length may be estimated from
Equation 19.2.
In natural
a u a gas se service,
ce, when
e us
usingg Eqn.
q 19.2,
9 , thee following
oo g
multipliers are suggested for alumina & molecular sieves:
– Alumina - 0.8 times hz for gel
– Molecular
M l l Si Sieve - 0.6
0 6 times
i hz for
f gell
MTZ Length

Adsorber Design

Most designs are based on a P/L of about 7-10 kPa/m [0.3-0.44 psi/ft]
Bed Height


mw =

Desiccant bulk density

(max. desiccant useful capacity)

Regeneration Design

R f
1. Maddox, Gas Conditioning & Processing, vol. 2,
3. Hydrocarbon Processing (Journal), April 1998
4 R.F.
4. R F Bukacek
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