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Publication > Issue > Articles

Biofuels update

Summary

The biofuel industry has the potential to affect not just the supply of sulphur, by displacing conventional gasoline and diesel fuels, but also the demand, by increasing use of fertilizer. Sulphur takes a look at recent and potential future developments in this sector.

Abstract

Interest in biofuel as part of the transport fuel mix has been considerable in recent years, with the US and EU attemp­ting to mandate up to 10% of transport fuel to come from renewable sources over the next decade. While this will displace use of conventional fuels, reducing the need for refinery derived fuels, it does also have the potential to increase sulphur demand via agriculture.

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Low cost and reliable sulphur recovery

Summary

By combining a selective oxidation process with a wet gas scrubber technology, Jacobs and MECS have developed a cost effective alternative to amine-based Claus tail gas treating. Sulphur recovery and SO2 emission reduction requirements can be met at significantly lower capital and operating costs. This article compares the capital and operating costs of a typical 140 t/d SRU with an amine-based TGTU versus a SUPERCLAUS® /DynaWave®.

Abstract

Selection of an appropriate and cost effective tail gas treatment process to follow existing Claus plants is a challenge facing refiners and natural gas plant owners around the world. New emission regulations, interest in increasing sulphur recovery and processing of higher sulphur crudes are the main drivers.

The most common approach is to install an amine-based Tail Gas Treatment Unit (TGTU) however lower installed cost and higher reliability can be achieved by combining two well established processes, Jacobs SUPERCLAUS® selective oxidation process and MECS’ DynaWave® wet gas scrubber technology. Owners can lower capital and operating costs significantly with this solution.

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Better acid gas enrichment

Summary

D. Perry, R.B. Fedich and L. E. Parks of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company discuss the advantages of FLEXSORB solvents for acid gas enrichment. Substantial savings in investment cost and operating costs have been demonstrated in both new plants and retrofits in numerous AGE units around the world.

Abstract

Many natural gas fields contain more CO2 than H2S. When these acid gases are removed from the methane sales gas, the resulting acid gas stream is likely to contain low H2S concentrations (<20 mol-%) making it unsuitable for sulphur recovery using the conventional Claus process. Acid gas enrichment (AGE) has become an enabling technology to economically produce these natural gas reserves. As the name implies, an AGE unit enriches the H2S content of the acid gas stream making it practical to recover sulphur in a Claus unit. Alternatively, AGE technology can also be used to minimise the volume of acid gas for re-injection or to debottleneck existing facilities if new, sourer fields are developed. There are a limited number of these AGE units in operation (some report as few as 25 worldwide). FLEXSORB® SE or SE PLUS solvents have been specified for 20 AGE units including the QatarGas II LNG Project (Trains 4 and 5) gas treating facilities which were successfully started in 2009.

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The global oil supply

Summary

The received wisdom of heavier and sourer crude inputs to refineries looks to be turned on its head – at least over the next few years, as increasing volumes of condensates and enhanced supply from Atlantic basin areas offset sourer feeds from the Middle East and Canadian oil sands.

Abstract

Crude oils are generally classified by their density – measured in terms of API gravity – and sulphur content. Lighter crudes generally have a higher share of light hydrocarbons, which are usually regarded as higher value products, which can be recovered more easily and cheaply, via simple distillation. Conversely, the heavier crude oils produce a greater share of lower-valued products using only simple distillation and hence require additional processing, often quite expensive, to produce the desired range of products. Figure 1 shows typical distillation products from some of the more common crudes.

The quality of the crude oil dictates the level of processing and re-processing necessary to achieve the optimal mix of product output. Hence, price and price differentials between crude oils also reflect the relative ease of refining. As Figure 1 shows, a premium crude oil like West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, has a relatively high natural yield of desirable naphtha and straight-run gasoline. Another premium crude oil, Nigeria’s Bonny Light, has a high natural yield of middle distillates. By contrast, almost half of the simple distillation yield from Saudi Arabia’s Arabian Light, the historical benchmark crude, is a heavy residue (“residuum”) that must be reprocessed or sold at a discount to crude oil. Even West Texas Intermediate and Bonny Light have a yield of about one-third residuum after the simple distillation process.

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Next generation SRU control with ABC+

Summary

Gerton Molenaar and Aernout Henning of Jacobs Nederland B.V. discuss the superior SRU performance achieved with the new Jacobs Advanced Burner Control+ (ABC+) and report on the first full year of commercial operating experience at the Suncor Simonette Gas Plant in northern Alberta, Canada.

Abstract

The operation of sulphur recovery units (SRUs) is faced with many challenges with respect to environmental compliance on the one hand and continuously changing acid gas feed streams on the other. Reliable and efficient sulphur recovery is not only very essential, it’s even critical for many operating companies. Not complying with the regulatory emission limits and efficiency requirements can, apart from safety concerns and bad publicity, result in significant fines and ultimately in loss of production.

Nowadays, many SRUs, if not all, must be able to process acid gas feed stocks that vary in both composition and flow rate due to fluctuating upstream operating conditions. Especially in refinery applications it is common to process acid gas from multiple sources as well as sour water stripper gas containing NH3. In gas plants the raw gas composition entering the plant regularly varies as well due to the many different gas wells that feed into the main pipelines.

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Improved gas treating with Sulfinol-X*

Summary

Sulfinol-X is a new, patented solvent for acid gas removal that is suitable for removal of H2S, CO2, mercaptans, COS and organic sulphide. It can be applied to new designs as well as revamping of existing plants to increase capacity, reduce energy consumption, lower chemicals consumption/waste disposal and achieve tighter CO2, H2S and COS specifications. Its development is based on the long-term design and operational experience with both traditional hybrid solvents such as Sulfinol-D and accelerated MDEA solvents.

Abstract

The production, processing and use of natural gas is well established in industry, providing a clean, reliable, safe and secure energy source. Gas development projects have evolved, from the simple exploitation of sweet gas reserves directly into domestic and industrial supply networks, to exploitation of remote gas deposits through liquefaction, marine transport and regasification. Gas to Liquids (GTL) technology allows the clean properties of natural gas to be utilised in a liquid form allowing the well-established infrastructure of oil products markets to aid in value generation.

Contaminants in natural gas typically include CO2, H2S, H2O, mercaptans (RSH) and carbonyl sulphide (COS ). These contaminants need to be removed if they are present in quantities above the level specified for the intended application. The early gas development projects focused on exploitation of sweet gas reserves, which requires CO2 and H2O removal only and is relatively simple. A typical treating process line-up is shown in Fig. 1. It consists of an acid gas removal unit (AGRU) for CO2 removal and a dehydration unit for drying of the gas. The acid gas from the AGRU, containing CO2 and minor amounts of hydrocarbons (HC) may be vented, incinerated, or compressed and subsequently sequestered.

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Sulphur and its value to society

Summary

Our regular column from the Sulphur Institute continues with a view on sulphur's benefits by Catherine A. Randazzo, president and CEO of the Sulphur Institute.

Abstract

As we embark on a new year, a new decade in fact, the sulphur industry is poised for further change. We know that we will see more sulphur production from a host of countries, additional fertilizer consumption, either produced from sulphur, or as a nutrient in itself. But, we can anticipate that we will be hearing a lot more about sulphur in a manner that may be new to many of us – sulphur as a benefit to society.

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Sulphur recovery plant

Summary

Sulphur's survey of recent, current and future construction projects maps the developing shape of brimstone production from fuel processing plants worldwide.

Abstract

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