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DRYING OF NATURAL GAS USING LOW

TEMPERATURE SEPARATION

Semester Project Work

December 27, 2005

Mohammed Mamun Azad


Student No.: 677698

Department of Petroleum Engineering


and Petroleum Geosciences

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)


Abstract

An approach for removal of water from natural gas by using low temperature separation
(LTS) method is presented here. Two types of LTS methods: Joule-Thomson valve and
Turbo-expander were considered. Initial gas composition, temperature and pressure were
used for doing a steady state simulation of dewatering process under process engineering
program Hysys. Hysys made all the analysis by using the provided input data and some
necessary assumptions and the simulation output were used to compare Joule-Thomson
valve and Turbo-expander technically and thermodynamically. The composition of dry
natural gas (in mole %) was obtained from Troll after processing at on-shore process
plant Kollsnes. Hysys mixed this gas with water in a fictitious mixer in order to make it
saturated with water which was considered to be the inlet stream for LTS units. Hysys
helped to estimate the cooling and dewatering capacity, efficiency, advantages and
disadvantages of Joule-Thomson valve and Turbo-expander. On the basis of the above
simulation, an attempt was made to choose a suitable LTS type dehydration method from
small to medium to large scale in a wide range of pressure and temperature condition,
technically and thermodynamically efficient, easy to operate, at a reasonable installation,
operating and maintenance cost.
Acknowledgements
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to my supervisor Professor Jon Steinar
Gudmundsson. I am very grateful to him for his support, guidance, assistance, patience
and enthusiasm.

I am especially grateful to Mr. Anwar Hossain Bhuian (PHD student) for his valuable
remarks and comments during the entire project.

I would like to thank Salako Abiodun for providing prompt support and technical
knowledge in working with Hysys simulator.

I appreciate my wife for her great support during the time of creating the project report,
and much longer than that.

Last but not least thanks to my friends and colleagues who helped me in making
numerous improvements not only to its wording but to its technical content.
Nomenclature

cp Specific heat of gas at constant pressure,


cv Specific heat of gas at constant volume,
H Enthalpy of gas,
P, P1, P2 Pressure of gas,
Q, q Heat flow,
R Molar gas constant,
s, s1, s2 Entropy of gas,
T Temperature of gas,
U Internal energy of gas,
V Volume,
w Work done by the gas,
JT Coefficient of Joule-Thomsons effect.
List of contents
1 Introduction.................................................................................................................... 1
1.1 Objective ................................................................................................................... 1
1.2 Methodology ............................................................................................................. 1
1.3 Data Type.................................................................................................................. 1
2 Literature Review .......................................................................................................... 2
2.1 Absorption................................................................................................................. 2
2.2 Adsorption................................................................................................................. 3
2.3 Gas Permeation ......................................................................................................... 4
2.4 Low Temperature Separation.................................................................................... 5
2.4.1 Joule-Thomson Valve ........................................................................................ 5
2.4.2 Turbo expander: ................................................................................................. 7
2.4.3 Thermodynamic description of Joule-Thompson Process:................................ 8
2.4.4 Thermodynamic description of Turbo Expander (Isentropic) Process:........... 10
2.4.5 Comparison between J-T Process and Turbo Expander Process ..................... 11
3 Data Analysis and Results........................................................................................... 12
3.1 Hysys Simulation Package...................................................................................... 12
3.2 Joule-Thomson Method .......................................................................................... 13
3.3 Turbo Expander Method ......................................................................................... 13
4 Discussion ..................................................................................................................... 27
4.1 Joule-Thomson Method .......................................................................................... 27
4.1.1 Advantages of Joule-Thomson Method ........................................................... 27
4.1.2 Limitations Joule-Thomson Method................................................................ 28
4.2 Turbo Expander Method ......................................................................................... 28
4.2.1 Advantages of Turbo Expander Method.......................................................... 28
4.2.2 Limitations of Turbo Expander Method .......................................................... 28
5 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 29
6 References..................................................................................................................... 30
List of figures

Figure 2.1: Simplified flow diagrams for a glycol dehydration unit ------------------- 3

Figure 2.2: Dehydration by adsorption ------------------- 3

Figure 2.3 Gas Permeation Modules ------------------- 5

Figure 2.4 Typical LTS system without hydrate inhibitor ------------------- 6

Figure 2.5 Typical LTS system with hydrate inhibitor ------------------- 7

Figure 2.6 Typical Turbo Expander ------------------- 8

Figure 2.7 Effect of Joule-Thompson Coefficient ------------------- 9

Figure 2.8 Isenthalpic and isentropic cooling ------------------- 11

Figure 3.1 Process flow diagram of Joule-Thomson Method ------------------- 18

Figure 3.2 Process flow diagram of Turbo Expander Method ------------------- 18

Figure 3.3 Enthalpy-Entropy diagram of Joule-Thomson method ------------------- 19

Figure 3.4 Pressure-Entropy diagram of Joule-Thomson method ------------------- 19

Figure 3.5 Pressure-Temperature diagram of Joule-Thomson method ------------------- 20

Figure 3.6 Temperature-Enthalpy diagram of Joule-Thomson method ------------------- 20

Figure 3.7 Temperature-Entropy diagram of Joule-Thomson method ------------------- 21

Figure 3.8 Pressure-Enthalpy diagram of Joule-Thomson method ------------------- 21

Figure 3.9 Pressure-Entropy diagram of Turbo-Expander method ------------------- 22

Figure 3.10 Pressure-Temperature diagram of Turbo-Expander method ------------------- 22

Figure 3.11 Temperature-Enthalpy diagram of Turbo-Expander method ------------------- 23

Figure 3.12 Temperature-Entropy diagram of Turbo-Expander method ------------------- 23

Figure 3.13 Enthalpy-Entropy diagram of Turbo-Expander method ------------------- 24


Figure 3.14 Polytropic efficiency at different pressure in turbo expander ------------------- 24

Figure 3.15 Polytropic efficiency at different temperature in turbo expander ------------------- 25

Figure 3.16 Energy production at different pressure in turbo expander ------------------- 25

Figure 3.17 Energy production at different temperature in turbo expander ------------------- 26

Figure 3.18 Water removal in Joule-Thomson and turbo expander methods ------------------- 26

Figure 3.19 Water removals in Joule-Thomson and turbo expander methods ------------------- 27
List of tables

Table 1.1 Table for gas composition ------------------------------- 1

Table 1.2 Table for normalized gas composition data ------------------------------- 2

Table 3.1 Thermodynamic properties for Joule-Thomson method ------------------------------- 15


(At different temperature)
Table 3.2 Thermodynamic properties for Joule-Thomson method ------------------------------- 15
(At different pressure)
Table 3.3 Outlet gas composition in Joule-Thomson method ------------------------------- 16
(At different temperature)
Table 3.4 Outlet gas composition in Joule-Thomson method ------------------------------- 16
(At different pressure)
Table 3.5 Thermodynamic properties for Turbo Expander method ------------------------------- 17
(At different temperature)
Table 3.6 Thermodynamic properties for Turbo Expander method ------------------------------- 17
(At different pressure)
Table 3.7 Outlet gas composition in Turbo Expander method ------------------------------- 18
(At different temperature)
Table 3.8 Outlet gas composition in Turbo Expander method ------------------------------- 18
(At different temperature)
1 Introduction

Natural gas needs to be dried before pipeline transport, because the water molecules
present in gas in both vapor and liquid state form hydrates which cause flow restrictions,
pressure drops, lower the heating value of gas and corrode pipelines and other
equipments. Several methods are used world-wide to dry gas, including absorption
method, adsorption method and low temperature separation (LTS) method.

1.1 Objective

Two methods are used in LTS: Joule-Thompson (J-T) expansion through valve or choke
and expansion through turbine. Here my aim was to compare the two LTS methods with
focus both technically and thermodynamically on their advantages and disadvantages in
gas dehydration plants.

1.2 Methodology

We need composition of gas to analyze any gas dehydration process because gas
properties are highly influenced by the composition of gas. Gas composition (mole
fraction) data of Troll (1), Norway were taken from the Home Page of Professor Jn
Steinar Gudmundsson in order to start the analysis of LTS methods.

HYSYS simulator was the main tool of my analysis. Gas composition and some other
relevant assumptions were the main inputs for HYSYS. Natural gas coming from
subsurface reservoirs is saturated with water but here we started with dry gas. To avoid
this problem, we introduced a fictitious mixer at the beginning of HYSYS which made
the gas saturated with water. Then HYSYS analyzed that gas to give me the desired
output data.

1.3 Data Type

Mole fraction in percent of Troll (1) gas, Norway is given below:


Table 1.1 Table for gas composition

Component Troll (1)


Methane 93.070
Ethane 3.720
Propane 0.582
Iso-Butane 0.346
N-Butane 0.083
C5+ 0.203
Nitrogen 1.657
Carbon-dioxide 0.319
Total 99.98
(1) After processing at Kollsnes (on-shore processing plant), average for Nov, 2000. Kollsnes is one of the
largest systems in the world. Kollsnes receives the gas from Troll A, the largest gas field in Norway.

Since total summation of mole fractions must be 100%, these data were normalized into
following table:

Table 1.2 Table for normalized gas composition data

Component Mole %
Methane 93,1024
Ethane 3,7041
Propane 0,5806
Iso-Butane 0,3504
N-Butane 0,0801
C5+ 0,2002
Nitrogen 1,6618
Carbon-dioxide 0,3204
Total 100 %

2 Literature Review

The water present in natural gas may, depending on the temperature and pressure
prevailing in an installation, condense and cause the formation of hydrates, solidify, or
favor corrosion if the gas contains acid components. To avoid such situations, natural gas
must be dehydrated (Rojey A. et. al.., 1997). Four types of processes are currently being
used which are:
a) Absorption,
b) Adsorption,
c) Gas Permeation and
d) Low Temperature Separation.

2.1 Absorption

The most common method for dehydration in the natural gas industry is the use of a
liquid desiccant contactor-regeneration process. In this process, the wet gas is contacted
with a lean solvent (containing only a small amount of water). The water in the gas is
absorbed in the lean solvent, producing a rich solvent stream (one containing more water)
and a dry gas. In case of absorption based natural gas dehydration processes the gas is
dried by countercurrent scrubbing with a solvent that has a strong affinity for water. The
solvent is usually a glycol, although other liquid desiccants are met which are calcium
chloride, lithium chloride, zinc chloride, etc. The dehydrated gas leaves at the top of the
column. The glycol leaving the bottom is regenerated by distillation and recycled. Before
undergoing the actual dehydration process any free liquids in the natural gas stream are
removed. A separator should be included upstream of the contactor to separate any
hydrocarbon liquids and free water. The separator could be a two-phase or three-phase
separator depending on the amount of free water expected.

Figure 2.1: Simplified flow diagrams for a glycol dehydration unit (reprinted from
unpublished diploma thesis of Artur Ryba, 2005)

2.2 Adsorption

Separation processes by adsorption uses a solid phase with large surface area, which
selectively retains the components to be separated. The adsorbents are generally
characterized by a micro porous structure which affords a very large specific surface
Adsorption processes are generally applied when a high purity is required for the
processed gas. Adsorbents are naturally unsuitable for continuous circulation, owing to
mechanical problems and also due to the risks of attrition (erosion of adsorbent particles
due to friction and collisions during movement). This is why adsorbents are normally
used in fixed beds with periodic sequencing. The flow scheme of a dehydration operation
by adsorption in a fixed bed is shown in Figure 2.2.
Figure 2.2: Dehydration by adsorption (reprinted from Rojey A. et. al., 1997)
The process is conducted alternately and periodically, with each bed going through
successive steps of adsorption and desorption. During the adsorption step, the gas to be
processed is sent on the adsorbent bed which selectively retains the water. When the bed
is saturated, hot natural gas is sent to regenerate the adsorbent. After regeneration and
before the adsorption step, the bed must be cooled. This is achieved by passing through
cold natural gas. After heating, the same gas can be used for regeneration. In these
conditions, four beds are needed in practice, two beds operating simultaneously in
adsorption, one bed in cooling and one bed in regeneration (Rojey A. et. al., 1997).
The desorption step is carried by different methods, such as:
a) Lowering the pressure, sometimes even under vacuum
b) Sweeping by an inert natural gas to lower the partial pressure of the component to be
desorbed
c) Sweeping by a displacement agent, which, by being adsorbed, allows more effective
desorption than with a simple evolution gas
d) Heating, in which the temperature rises, facilitates desorption in a fixed-bed operation.
The most widely used adsorbents are: Activated Alumina, Silica Gel and Molecular
Sieves (Zeolites).

2.3 Gas Permeation

In the process of dehydration by permeation, the dried natural gas is going through a
membrane leaving particles of water and impurities on its surface. Industrial applications
of dehydration by gas permeation are currently very limited. However, many
investigations have demonstrated the potential value of such a process which, in
comparison with a glycol dehydration unit, could prove to be more economical and more
compact, which is extremely important for offshore production. These advantages only
appear clearly in the case of single-stage operation without recycle or recompression of
the permeate.
For the separation to be effective, the membrane must be very permeable with respect to
the contaminant to be separated, which passes through the membrane driven by pressure
difference, and it must be relatively impermeable to methane. The permeability of
methane must be accepted to avoid an excessively large membrane area nevertheless
means a significant loss of methane in the permeate.
Membrane separation processes require large membrane areas, which are generally
expressed in thousands of square meters. The membrane surface is dependent on the
amount of gas permeating through it. Compact permeation modules with a high
membrane area are therefore needed (Rojey A. et. al., 1997). The most widely used
industrial modules belong to two types are (Figure 2.3):
a) Modules with plane membranes wound spirally around a collector tube
b) Modules with a bundle of hollow fibers

Figure 2.3 Gas Permeation Modules (Reprinted from Rojey A. et. al., 1997)

2.4 Low Temperature Separation

In LTS type dehydration process, the pressure of incoming gas is reduced by using choke
or expander in order to reduce temperature. This temperature drop makes the water in the
gas condense and come out in liquid form from gas. Two methods are used in LTS:
(a) Joule-Thomson Valve
(b) Turbo Expander
2.4.1 Joule-Thomson Valve

The Joule-Thompson Expansion (Constant Enthalpy) systems use the refrigeration effect
that results from a pressure drop taken on a high pressure well stream. This expansion
occurs across a choke and the resulting refrigeration effect is dependent on the
temperature of the upstream side of the choke, the pressure differential across the choke,
and the amount of liquid formed. For obtaining the maximum removal of liquids from the
gas stream for a given pressure differential and sales-gas pressure, the lowest possible
temperature within reasonable limits should be attained in the separator. This in turn
means the lowest possible temperature upstream of the choke.

Two basic methods commonly used for dehydration purpose are:


(a) LTS without hydrate inhibitor,
(b) LTS with hydrate inhibitor.
(a) LTS without hydrate inhibitor

The basic unit for low-temperature separation without hydrate inhibitor includes
essentially a choke, separator, and heat exchange coils. It is assumed that the inlet well
stream contains a minimum amount of free water and is of sufficient temperature to
prevent formation of hydrates upstream of the choke. The complete system is shown in
figure 2.3. The well stream flows through the coil in the low temperature separator where
it is slightly chilled, then to the inlet high pressure liquid separator where free liquids are
separated from the gas. The gas then flows through the gas-gas heat exchanger, through
the choke and into the low-temperature separator. The cold gas flows from the separator,
through the gas-gas heat exchanger, and into the sales gas line. The liquids from the of
the low temperature separator are dumped to some form of stabilization before going to
storage.
Figure 2.4 Typical LTS system without hydrate inhibitor (Reprinted from Petroleum
Engineering Handbook, Third Printing)

(b) LTS with hydrate inhibitor

The formation of hydrates can be prevented by changing the character of the water in
such way that it will not form hydrates with natural gas. This is accomplished through the
use of a substance known as Hydrate Inhibitor. The most commonly used inhibitors are
glycols and alcohols. A typical system is shown in figure 2.5. The inhibitor is injected
between the inlet high pressure separator and the regenerative heat exchanger. The
inhibitor mixes with free water for cooling and prevents hydrate formation.

Figure 2.5 Typical LTS system with hydrate inhibitor (Reprinted from Petroleum
Engineering Handbook, Third Printing)

The low temperature separation system with hydrate inhibitor eliminates the formation of
hydrates and allows the gas to be cooled below the hydrate temperature before expansion.
This results in an increase in the amount of condensate removed from the well stream.
The operating costs are higher than the system without inhibitor, but the increased
recovery will normally be more than offset this.

2.4.2 Turbo expander:

The turbine expansion low temperature dehydration system differs from choke expansion
is that the turbine turns a shaft from which a work is extracted. A typical turbo-expander
process is shown in figure 2.6.
Figure 2.6 Typical Turbo Expander (Reprinted from Petroleum Engineering
Handbook, Third Printing)

The gas enters through an inlet separator with any liquid separated at this point being
introduced to a low point in the stabilizer tower. The gas then goes through heat exchange
with the cold gas leaving the stabilizer. Another separator is installed if sufficient liquid
is formed in the gas-gas heat exchanger with the liquid being introduced at an
intermediate point in the stabilizer. The cold gas then flows to the expander where the
pressure is reduced and low temperature is achieved. The gas and liquid mixture leaves
the expander and flows to the separator that normally is on the top of the stabilizer
column. Sales gas flows back through the exchanger and may be compressed in the direct
connected centrifugal compressor before being put into the sales gas line. Since
extremely low temperatures are achieved in a typical turbo expander plant, dehydration is
normally the first step though some plants do use alcohol injection. The gas frequently is
expanded below sales gas pressure and then recompressed to make use of the work that
must be extracted from the shaft of the turbine (Bloch H. P. and Soares C., 2001).

A fairly recent development in gas processing, the turbo expander process, is one of the
simplest and easy of operable. The favourable operating characteristics allow the plant to
run unattended through long periods and its simplicity and relatively low investment cost
make it an attractive option (I. Ross and T. Robinson, 1981).

2.4.3 Thermodynamic description of Joule-Thompson Process:

Consider a sample of gas initially at P1, V1 and T1 was forced into a system at constant
pressure P1. The gas came out of the system at P2, V2 and T2. The system is insulated such
that q=0. The work has two terms, work done on the system to force the gas through the
system and the work done by the system on the surroundings as it came out the other side
of the plug.
The total work is:
w = P1 (0 V1 ) P2 (V2 0 )
= P1V1 P2V2
Since q =0, the change in internal energy of the gas is, U= q+w
= 0+P1V1-P2V2
= P1V1-P2V2
The enthalpy is then given by,
H= U+(PV)= P1V1-P2V2 +P2V2- P1V1= 0
So Joule-Thompsons effect (Throttling process) is a constant enthalpy process.
Co-efficient of Joule-Thompsons effect, JT can be defined as,
T
JT =
P H
H

T P T
=
P H H

T P
H

P T
JT =
cP

(www.chem.arizona.edu/~salzmanr/480a/480ants/jadjte/jadjte.html, 12.12.2005)

Figure 2.7 Effect of Joule-Thompson Coefficient (Reprinted from Equipment Modules,


Volume-2)

The coefficient of J-T effect is important in the cooling operation of gas for the purpose
of liquefaction or dehydration. It tells whether a gas cools or heats on expansion. It turns
out that this coefficient is a decreasing function of temperature and it passes through zero
at the Joule-Thompson inversion temperature. In an expansion dp<0, whether dT is
positive or negative depends on the sign of JT. It can be seen that if JT is positive then
dT negative upon expansion so that the gas cools. On the other hand, if JT is negative
then dT is positive so that the gas warms upon expansion (Campbell J. M., 1994).

2.4.4 Thermodynamic description of Turbo Expander (Isentropic) Process:

An isentropic process is a constant entropy process. If a control mass undergoes a process


which is both reversible and adiabatic, then the second law specifies the entropy changes
to be zero. A steady state reversible flow through an adiabatic controlled volume also has
no entropy change from inlet to outlet. Both are isentropic processes. Although an
isentropic process might be an idealization of an actual process, it serves as a limiting
case, for particular applications.

The entropy change for an ideal gas can be presented as:


T2
dT v
s 2 s1 = cv + R ln 2
T1
T v1
T2
dT P
s 2 s1 = c P R ln 2
T1
T P1
For such isentropic process, s2-s1=0
T2
dT v
0 = cv + R ln 2
T1
T v1
T2
dT P
0 = cP R ln 2
T1
T P1
The final form used depends on the approximation made for the temperature dependence
of the specific heats.
Assuming that the specific heats are accurately approximated by constant values
eliminates the integrals in the above equations. The constant specific equations are:
T v T v R cP v1 R cP
0 = cv ln 2 + R ln 2 2 = 2 =
T1 v1 T1 s v1 s v2 s
R cP
T P T P
0 = c P ln 2 R ln 2 2 = 2
T1 P1 T1 s P1
Where, the subscript s indicates that the process occurs at constant entropy. The power on
each expression is rewritten in terms of k = cP/cv by noting that cP-cv = R,
so R/cP = (k-1)/k. Thus we get,
T2 v
= 1 k 1
T1 s v 2 s
k 1
T2 P k
= 2
T1 s P1
These equations are specified relations that are used for an ideal gas undergoing ideal
process if the specific heats are considered to be constant. If the specific heat can not be
assumed as constants then the temperature dependence of the specific heats must be
included. The variable specific heat solution for an ideal gas undergoing an isentropic
P
process is obtained as: s 2 s1 = 0 = s 0 (T2 ) s0 (T1 ) R ln 2 . (Holman J.P., 1988)
P1

2.4.5 Comparison between J-T Process and Turbo Expander Process

The turbo expander is a mechanical device that produces work by expanding the feed gas
stream from its initial high pressure to a lower pressure level. In the ideal case the
expansion is isentropic. As mechanical work is produced the enthalpy of the gas is
decreased. In reality, the expansion can not completely approach the isentropic case but
produce a high percentage of the ideally possible work. The expansion and reduction in
enthalpy lowers the temperature of the gas which results in partial liquefaction (I. Ross
and T. Robinson, 1981.).

By contrast, expansion across a valve is isenthalpic producing no work. Resulting


temperatures are not as low as those achieved by the expander and less liquefaction takes
place.

In a work producing expansion, the temperature of the process fluid is always reduced;
hence cooling does not depend on being below the inversion temperature prior to
expansion. Additionally, the work producing results in a larger amount of cooling than in
an isenthalpic expansion over the same pressure difference. This is illustrated
diagrammatically in figure 2.8, where TA-TB is the isentropic cooling and TA-TC is the
isenthalpic cooling for adiabatic expansion between the same pressure limits (Perry R.
H., 1984).
Figure 2.8 Isenthalpic and isentropic cooling (Reprinted from Chemical Engineers
Handbook, Perry)
3 Data Analysis and Results

I started my simulation with Troll gas composition data, considering 1000 Kgmole/hr gas
and 20 Kgmole/hr water being mixed in a fictitious mixer. The thermodynamic properties
of gas were analyzed at different temperature and pressure levels by using HYSYS
simulator. These properties were the key to make comparison between the low
temperature separation processes: Joule-Thomson and Turbo Expander process.

3.1 Hysys Simulation Package

Aspen Hysys 3.2 is a process modeling tool for steady state simulation, design,
performance monitoring, optimization and business planning for oil and gas production,
gas processing and petroleum refining industries. The program is built upon proven
technologies, with more than 25 years experience supplying process simulation tools to
the oil, gas and refining industries. It proves an interactive process modeling solution that
enables engineers to create steady state models of plant design, performance monitoring,
troubleshooting, operational improvement, business planning and asset management.
Hysys helps process industries improve productivity and profitability throughout the
plant lifecycle. The powerful simulation and analysis tools, real-time applications and the
integrated approach to the engineering solutions enable the user to improve designs,
optimize production and enhance decision-making (Aspen Tech, 2004). Hysys offers a
high degree of flexibility because there are multiple ways to accomplish specific tasks.
This flexibility combined with consistent and logical approach to how these capabilities
are delivered makes Hysys a versatile process simulation tool (Aspen Tech, 2004).

Another Hysys feature is that modular operations are combined with non-sequential
solution algorithm, so not only is information processed as it is supplied, but the results
of any calculation are automatically produced throughout the flow sheet, both forwards
and backwards. The modular structure of the operation means they can be calculated in
either direction, using information in an outlet stream to calculate inlet conditions (Aspen
Tech, 2004).

In Hysys, all necessary information pertaining to pure component flash and physical
property calculations is contained within the Fluid Package, therefore choosing the right
Fluid Package for given compounds is substantial. For the given composition of natural
gas flowing through LTS unit, different Fluid Packages were checked, but finally the
Peng-Robinson equation of state was chosen, as an ideal model for process calculations.

Material streams are used to simulate the material traveling in and out of the simulation
boundaries and passing between unit operations. For the material stream the user has to
define their main properties and composition so Hysys can solve the stream. The
parameters necessary are the temperature, pressure, flow based for example on molar
flow, and composition (Aspen Tech, 2003). Energy streams are used to simulate the
energy traveling in and out of the simulation boundaries and passing between unit
operations. The energy stream property view contains of fields allowing user to define
stream parameters, view objects to which the stream is attached and specify dynamic
information. The main parameter for energy streams is heat flow (Aspen Tech, 2003).

Separator is a unit with one or multiple feeds, one vapor and one liquid product stream.
The separator divides the vessel contents into its constituent vapor and liquid phases.
Every separator may be provided with some common features like for example the
geometry of the vessel and heat loss model which accounts for the convective and
conductive heat transfer that occurs across the vessel wall. The user can choose between
various heater types, which determine the way in which heat is transferred to the vessel
operation (Aspen Tech, 2003).

In both Joule-Thomson and Turbo Expander processes, the gas is allowed to expand and
consequently a certain temperature drop is obtained which is very useful to separate
water from gas. Hysys simulator can be used to analyze the processes if sufficient inputs
are provided. In my analysis, the inputs were gas composition, gas flow rate, temperature,
pressure and few assumptions. There is a provision of using hypothetical component with
proper input of some of its properties say molecular weight, liquid density or boiling
point. Aspen tech recommended hypothetical component is minimum C7+. But in my
analysis, C5+ was hypothetical component and its boiling point was assumed 96oC. Initial
gas flow rate was assumed 1000 Kgmole/hr. Then Hysys analyzed the inputs and gave a
series of output data such as outlet temperature, pressure, composition, molar enthalpy,
molar entropy, heat flow etc.

3.2 Joule-Thomson Method

1000 Kgmoles of gas and 20 Kgmoles of water were mixed together in a mixer in order
to make the gas saturated with water. Then saturated gas was allowed to pass through the
Joule-Thomson valve. The pressure was dropped down to 65 bar which is assumed to be
slightly higher than the pipeline pressure. Consequently the gas became cold due to
Joule-Thomson effect. A separator was installed immediately after the downstream of the
valve. Water was removed from the gas at the separator. The top product from the
separator is the dry gas ready to deliver into the pipeline (Figure 3.1).

Hysys analyzed the entire process at varied conditions of inlet temperature and pressure
to get the desired outputs such as outlet temperature, molar enthalpy and molar entropy.
All the inputs and outputs were given in following tables and some figures were plotted
by using those data.

3.3 Turbo Expander Method

Here the saturated gas passed through an expander, which allowed the pressure to drop
down to 65 bar (Figure 3.2). The temperature drop achieved was more than that in Joule-
Thomson method. Similar to Joule-Thomson method, Hysys was used to analyze the
entire process at varied conditions of inlet temperature and pressure to get the desired
outputs such as outlet temperature, molar enthalpy, molar entropy and apart from Joule-
Thomson method certain amount of energy was recovered. This energy recovery was
calculated in terms of heat. All the inputs and outputs are given in following tables and
some figures were plotted by using those data.

Table 3.1 Thermodynamic properties for Joule-Thomson method


(At different temperature)

Table 3.2 Thermodynamic properties for Joule-Thomson method


(At different pressure)
Table 3.3 Outlet gas composition in Joule-Thomson method
(At different temperature)

Table 3.4 Outlet gas composition in Joule-Thomson method


(At different pressure)
Table 3.5 Thermodynamic properties for Turbo Expander method
(At different temperature)

Table 3.6 Thermodynamic properties for Turbo Expander method


(At different pressure)
Table 3.7 Outlet gas composition in Turbo Expander method
(At different temperature)

Table 3.8 Outlet gas composition in Turbo Expander method


(At different temperature)
Figure 3.1 Process flow diagram of Joule-Thomson Method

Figure 3.2 Process flow diagram of Turbo Expander Method


Enthalpy-Entropy Diagram

1,92

1,91
Enthalpy, H, Kcal/Kgmole, (*10 )
4

HS Curve
1,9

1,89

1,88

1,87

1,86

1,85

1,84
149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158
o
Molar Entropy, S, KJ/Kgmole C

Figure 3.3 Enthalpy-Entropy diagram of Joule-Thomson method

Pressure-Entropy Diagram

200

180 PS Curve

160

140
Pressure, P, bar

120

100

80

60

40

20

0
152 152,5 153 153,5 154 154,5 155
o
Molar Entropy, S, KJ/Kgmole C

Figure 3.4 Pressure-Entropy diagram of Joule-Thomson method


Pressure-Temperature Diagram

190

180

170 PT Chart

160
Pressure, P, bar

150

140

130

120

110

100

90
50 55 60 65 70 75 80
o
Temperature, T, C

Figure 3.5 Pressure-Temperature diagram of Joule-Thomson method

Temperature-Enthalpy Diagram

120

TH Curve
100
Temperature, T, C
o

80

60

40

20

0
1,84 1,85 1,86 1,87 1,88 1,89 1,9 1,91 1,92
4
Molar Enthalpy, H, Kcal/Kgmole, (*10 )

Figure 3.6 Temperature-Enthalpy diagram of Joule-Thomson method


Temperature-Entropy Diagram

120

TS Curve

100
Temperature, T, C
o

80

60

40

20

0
149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158
o
Molar Entropy, KJ/Kgmole C

Figure 3.7 Temperature-Entropy diagram of Joule-Thomson method

Pressure-Entropy Diagram

200

180

160 PS Curve

140
Pressure, P, bar

120

100

80

60

40

20

0
147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154

Molar Entropy, S, KJ/kgmoleoC

Figure 3.8 Pressure-Enthalpy diagram of Joule-Thomson method


Pressure-Entropy Diagram

200

180

160 PS Curve

140
Pressure, P, bar

120

100

80

60

40

20

0
147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154

Molar Entropy, S, KJ/kgmoleoC

Figure 3.9 Pressure-Entropy diagram of Turbo-Expander method

Pressure-Temperature Diagram

200

180 PT Curve

160

140
Pressure, P, bar

120

100

80

60

40

20

0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
o
Temperature, T, C

Figure 3.10 Pressure-Temperature diagram of Turbo-Expander method


TH Diagram

120

TH Curve

100
Inlet Temperature, T, C
o

80

60

40

20

0
1,856 1,857 1,858 1,859 1,86 1,861 1,862 1,863 1,864 1,865
4
Molar Enthalpy, H, Kcal/Kgmole, (*10 )

Figure 3.11 Temperature-Enthalpy diagram of Turbo-Expander method

Temperature-Entropy Diagram

120

TS Curve

100
Inlet Temperature, C

80
o

60

40

20

0
146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154
o
Molar Entropy, S, KJ/Kgmole C

Figure 3.12 Temperature-Entropy diagram of Turbo-Expander method


Enthalpy-Entropy Diagram

1,865

1,864
Molar Enthalpy, H, Kcal/Kgmole, (*10 )
4

HS Curve
1,863

1,862

1,861

1,86

1,859

1,858

1,857

1,856
146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154

Molar Entropy, S, KJ/KgmoleoC

Figure 3.13 Enthalpy-Entropy diagram of Turbo-Expander method


Polytropic Efficiency at different pressure

74,2

74 efficiency-P curve

73,8
Polytropic efficiency,%

73,6

73,4

73,2

73

72,8

72,6

72,4
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200

Pressure, P, bar

Figure 3.14 Polytropic efficiency at different pressure in turbo expander


Polytropic efficiency at different temperature

73,35

73,3 efficiency-T curve

73,25

73,2
Polytropic Efficiency,%

73,15

73,1

73,05

73

72,95

72,9
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
o
Temperature, T, C

Figure 3.15 Polytropic efficiency at different temperature in turbo expander

Energy production at different pressure

600

500 Q-P curve


Energy production, Q, KW

400

300

200

100

0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200

Pressure, P, bar

Figure 3.16 Energy production at different pressure in turbo expander


Energy production at different temperature

500

450 T-Q curve

400
Energy production, Q, KW

350

300

250

200

150

100

50

0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
o
Temperature, T, C

Figure 3.17 Energy production at different temperature in turbo expander

Comparison of water removal

J-T Method
Turbo Expander Method
Water removal rate, Kgmole/hr.

0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200

Pressure, P, bar

Figure 3.18 Water removal in Joule-Thomson and turbo expander methods


(At different pressure)
Comparison of Water Removal

10

J-T Method
9
Turbo Expander Method
Water Removal rate, Kgmole/hr

0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
o
Temperature, T, C

Figure 3.19 Water removal in Joule-Thomson and turbo expander methods


(At different temperature)

4 Discussion

Joule-Thomson and Turbo Expander methods were analyzed to compare their


dehydration performance, operating efficiency and thermodynamic properties. These
could finally give a conclusion on selecting a proper method for gas dehydration.

4.1 Joule-Thomson Method

All the calculations were based upon 1000 Kgmole of gas and 20 Kgmole of water
initially. At first, the whole process was analyzed with initial pressure of 150 bar and
final pressure 65 bar. Initial temperatures were varied from 70oC to 120oC. In each case,
outlet properties e.g. temperature, enthalpy, entropy and gas composition were observed.
Then the same observation was made by changing pressure from 100 to 175 bar keeping
the temperature constant at 90oC.

4.1.1 Advantages of Joule-Thomson Method

This method is very simple and operation is very easy. It can operate efficiently.
Isenthalpic operation is possible what was obtained from Hysys. It is shown in Table 3.1
and 3.2. It can remove more water at lower temperatures and higher pressures as shown
in figure 3.18 and 3.19.
4.1.2 Limitations Joule-Thomson Method

The major limitation is that, it can not cool the gas as low as Turbo expander can do.
Since it operates isenthalpically, it does not produce any energy. It is not a good choice
when high level of dehydration is required. Controlling of the valve opening may be a
problem; here opening was fixed at 50%. A significant amount of energy may be required
for the plant operation.

4.2 Turbo Expander Method

Similar to Joule-Thomson method, all the calculations were based upon 1000 Kgmole of
gas and 20 Kgmole of water initially. At first, the whole process was analyzed with initial
pressure of 150 bar and final pressure 65 bar. Initial temperatures were varied from 70oC
to 120oC. In each case, outlet properties e.g. temperature, enthalpy, entropy, energy
production and gas composition were observed. Then the same observation was made by
changing pressures from 100 to 175 bar keeping the temperature constant at 90oC. Hysys
fixed its adiabatic efficiency at 75% and polytropic efficiency decreased with the increase
of temperature and pressure.

4.2.1 Advantages of Turbo Expander Method

This is a modern method for gas dehydration. Its mechanical part can produce
considerable amount of energy in the form of heat that can minimize energy cost for the
plant operation. So it can offer higher temperature drop than Joule-Thomson method and
eventually higher water recovery is possible. This method is a good choice when high
water recovery is desired. At higher pressures and temperatures it creates higher
temperature drop and consequently higher energy production and water recovery are
achieved. It offers higher water recovery at high pressure up to 160 bar.

4.2.2 Limitations of Turbo Expander Method

In ideal case, it is an isentropic process. But in reality, the expansion can not completely
approach the isentropic case but produce a high percentage of the ideally possible work.
Table 3.3 and 3.4 showed that entropy was decreasing with the increase of inlet pressure
and it was increasing with increase of temperature. Polytropic efficiency increases with
the increase of temperature and decrease of pressure. It can remove more water at high
temperatures but then water composition at the gas stream of the separator outlet
becomes high. Since this type of plant is expensive, it is not wise to choose when less
water recovery is desired.
5 Conclusion

Gas composition was the key data to start this simulation. Here Troll normalized gas
composition (in mole fraction) data were used. Some input data such as inlet molar flow,
pressure and temperature were assumed to specify the systems. Each system needed some
assumption before they were simulated by Hysys.

Hysys can calculate varieties of chemical, physical and thermodynamic properties by


using some input data. Here Hysys generated outputs were enthalpy, entropy, outlet gas
composition, energy recovery, efficiency etc. which were essential for describing any
process for gas dehydration.

Among many available dehydration processes, Joule-Thomson and Turbo Expander type
processes were compared from both technical and thermodynamic point of view. Both
Joule-Thomson and Turbo Expander methods are LTS type processes. Natural gas is
expanded in these processes and consequently a rapid temperature drop is achieved. Due
to this cooling, some water condenses out from water saturated gas. In Joule-Thomson
method, gas passed through a choke type valve where its pressure dropped rapidly. A
temperature drop was achieved immediately due to isenthalpic Joule-Thomson effect.

The turbo expander is a mechanical device that produces work by expanding the feed gas
stream from its initial high pressure to a lower pressure level. In the ideal case the
expansion is isentropic. As mechanical work is produced the enthalpy of the gas is
decreased. In reality the expansion can not completely approach the isentropic case but
produces a high percentage of the ideally possible work. The expansion and reduction in
enthalpy lowers the temperature of the gas which results in partial condensation of water.
By contrast expansion across a valve is isenthalpic producing no work. Resulting
temperatures are not as low as those achieved by the expander and less condensation of
water takes place.

A Joule-Thomson valve could be installed in parallel with the expander. This could be
used during start-up and times of maintenance on the turbo expander. They might also be
operated in parallel if there is too much gas for the expander. The performance of the
combined Joule-Thomson and Turbo expander type processes can be studied in future
because it may offer better water removal with a safe and uninterrupted operation.
6 References

(1) Ryba A., Reduction in emissions and energy use at makowice natural gas
dehydration facility, Unpublished Diploma Thesis, 2005.

(2) Bloch Heinz P., Soares C., 2001, Turboexpanders and process applications, Gulf
Professional Publishing, PP 3-6, 19-21.

(3) Bradley H. B., Petroleum Engineering Handbook, Third edition, Society of


petroleum engineers, P 14-1, P 14-3, P 14-5, P 14-6, P 14-7, P 14-8.

(4) Campbell J. M., Lilly L. L., Maddox R. N., Gas conditioning and processing
Volume-2: The equipment modules, Seventh edition, Campbell Petroleum Series,
PP 252-258.

(5) Dorsett L. R., 1989, LTX: Reapplication of Proven Technology, SPE 19080, PP
1-3.

(6) Holman J.P., 1988, Thermodynamics, Fourth edition, McGraw-Hill Book


Company, PP 160-162, 195.

(7) General Information About Hysys, Aspen Technology Inc, 2004,


www.aspentech.com,

(8) Perry R.H., 1984, Perrys Chemical Engineers Handbook, Sixth edition,
McGraw-Hill Book Company, P 12-49, P 12-50, P 12-51.

(9) Rojey A., Jaffret C., Cornot-Gandolphe S., Durand B., Jullian S. and Valais M.,
1997, Natural Gas Production processing and Transport, Editions Technip, PP
252-276.

(10) Rose I., Robinson T., 1981, Offshore gas conservation utilizing a turbo-expander
based refrigeration extraction cycle, OEB1 SPE 10391.1, PP 3-7.

(11) Maddox R. N., Bretz E., 1976, Turbo-Expander Applications in Natural Gas
Processing, Journal of Petroleum Technology, PP 611-613.

(12) http://www.chem.arizona.edu/~salzmanr/480a/480ants/jadjte/jadjte.html
(12.10.2005).

(13) http://www.ipt.ntnu.no/~jsg/undervisning/naturgass/GasCompositionExamples.pdf
(18.09.2005).

(14) http://www.rwe-dea.com/en/172.htm (10.09.2005).