IFPEN’s objective is to propose more efficient processes in order to minimize investment and operating costs. The challenge is to be able to offer a global package, including the solvent and its process, as well as column packings and adsorbents.
Mercury removal from natural gas
Today, for reasons related to operator health and safety, the operability of installations as well as protection of the environment, the removal of mercury from natural gas is essential. IFPEN has developed a new generation of AxTrap adsorbents with optimized efficiency.
« The AxTrap range includes adsorbents used in irreversible adsorption processes: an active species is applied to alumina-based supports and interacts with the impurities to form strong chemical bonds. For the past two years, Axens has been marketing a new generation of these adsorbents incorporating a number of improvements:
- active phase impregnation and quantity have been optimized,
- while retaining excellent matter transfer capacities to increase mercury retention.
This new-generation AxTrap is also more robust and tolerates mercury removal at an early stage in the treatment process, when the gas still contains water and the operating pressure is much higher. Since it is more capacitive, it offers the option of being used for longer or designing more compact reactors, a major advantage for offshore operations. Finally, a simulation model has been developed in order to predict its lifespan. Five industrial contracts have already been won, including one in Australia for one of the biggest liquefied natural gas projects in the world. »
Olivier Ducreux, Adsorbents Business Line Manager, Axens
Fillers and packings
One of the challenges facing industrial players is the dimensioning of gas treatment units. IFPEN supports them by proposing equipment with a performance that makes it possible to reduce the size of these units.
« The reduction in the size of the gas treatment units is essential to ensure their economic competitiveness. Since the exchange volume needed to meet the required specifications is related to the technology ensuring contact between the sour gas and the solvent, we are focusing our work on these contactors. We have developed a packing with a hybrid structure, IFPACC 2X™, with a geometric surface area of 200 m2/m3. Marketed by Axens, it makes it possible to:
- guarantee a comparable transfer performance to that of reference packings developing a greater geometric area,
- while at the same time reducing the column diameter.
The result is savings of up to 15% compared to conventional equipment on the market!
To optimize the operation of IFPACC 2X™, we have also developed more efficient liquid and gas distributors. The joint use of simulation (CFD - Computational fluid dynamics) and experimentation in the development of our gas distributor enabled us to obtain an even more compact design, to further improve the economic competitiveness of the process.
Finally, we have extended our research to include offshore applications and developed a dedicated liquid distributor: the concept was validated by CFD calculations and confirmed by a sequence of tests on a hexapod to reproduce the 3D movements of swell. The next step consists in finalizing the design rules and verifying that the criteria have been met for gas and liquid flows, in order to enable significant savings in terms of investments. »
Pascal Alix, project manager, IFPEN
Solvents for natural gas sweetening
Natural gas sweetening consists in removing carbon and sulfur from the crude gas in order to meet the required specifications for its use and to be able to transport or liquefy it. While gas sweetening processes using amines are fully mastered today, IFPEN is now studying a new substance capable of improving their performance.
« The objective of the research being carried out at IFPEN is to reduce the flow rate of the solvent used in order to improve:
- the economic competitiveness: lower investments, smaller units,
- and the energy consumption of the process.
The new AGAT solvent is the result of this research. The objective is to achieve savings of:
- at least 20% for solvent flow rate,
- and more than 15% for energy efficiency.
The next step will be a test performed on a demonstration unit. At this stage in the development, we believe we have a very promising substance that could lead to a genuine technological breakthrough in the market.»
Christian Streicher, Gas Sweetening Sales Director, Axens