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NATURAL GAS

PROCESSING:
A brief look at the natural gas
industry
By
Undergraduates: Robert VanLeeuwen, Matthew Martinez, Loralie
Faulk
Faculty: Dr. Carl Murphy, Dr. Ali Pilehvari, Mohsen Dirbaz (graduate
student)
Typical Composition of Natural
Gas
 Methane – CH4: 70 – 90%
 Ethane – C2H6 : 0 – 20%
 Propane – C3H8 : 0 – 20%
 Butane – C4H10 : 0 – 20%
 Carbon Dioxide – CO2 : 0 – 8%
 Nitrogen – N2 : 0 – 5%
 Hydrogen Sulfide – H2S : 0 – 5%
 Oxygen – O2 : 0 – 0.2%
 Rare Noble Gases – Ar, He, Ne, Xe : traces

Focus of study
While there is much to discuss in the field of

processing natural gas, this presentation will


focus on three very important steps:

1. Water Removal via Liquid Desiccant


 (TEG Glycol)
2. Cryogenic Turbo Expansion

3. Fractionation of Natural Gas Liquids

Cost analysis will also be used to display the


economical aspect of natural gas processing.



TEG Glycol Dehydration
When taken from the wellhead,
natural gas is partially
saturated with water.
Water left with natural gas

during processing will tend


to form solid hydrates, which
will build up in pipes and
impede the flow of natural
gas in the system.
Liquid desiccant known as

glycol is dispersed through


the top of the tower which
absorbs the water and
dehydrates the gas.

TEG Glycol Dehydration
(Cont.)
The glycol-water solution exits the bottom of
the tower and is ‘flashed’ in a flash tank to
vaporize any trapped methane or associated
gases.
The glycol-water solution is heated to vaporize

the water (boiling point: 212o F) from the


glycol (boiling point: 400oF). This allows
glycol to be recycled in the dehydration
process.
Removing water gets rid of solid hydrates and

lowers the dew point (the temperature at


which condensate first forms) of the natural
gas.
Cryogenic Turbo Expansion
Demethanizationrequires the
natural gas be cooled and then
put into an expansion chamber
to reduce the gas temperatures
to a range of -120 to -150
degrees Fahrenheit.
By reaching these low

temperatures, the heavier


hydrocarbons condense to a
liquid state, while methane
remains gaseous, thus
separating them.
Energy gained from the expansion

process is used to recompress


the gaseous methane which
can then be shipped off. This
process also allows for a high
ethane recovery rate of up to
Fractionation of NGLs
In order to be distributed and
sold to consumers, natural
gas liquids must be broken
up into their components.
This can be easily done

because each component


has different boiling points,
so starting with the
lightest hydrocarbon (and
therefore, easiest to boil),
each is brought to a vapor
while the heavier
hydrocarbons remain
liquids and continue
through the process until
all components are
separated.
Cost Analysis using Capcost
Using the Capcost program,
simulation processing plants can
be accurately modeled financially,
to find out whether or not building
a plant with certain specifications
will be profitable.
Modeling requires plant

manufacturing costs, raw material


costs, maintenance costs and
expected profits from processed
products.

Project simulation rate of return


(over a period of ten years,


discounted profitability) – 14.9%
Cash Flow Diagram
Conclusion
 Natural Gas Processing is an exciting and
rewarding career choice for promising
Chemical Engineers.
 The future of Natural Gas Processing
looks very bright, as consumer demand
grows.