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China's sulphur industry

Summary

China has been virtually the last place left in the world using significant amounts of pyrites as a source of sulphur for the country's burgeoning sulphuric acid industry. However, over the next decade, the exploitation of new sour gas fields looks set to dramatically increase recovered sulphur output.

Abstract

As with every other commodity in China, growth in consumption of sulphur has been dramatic over the past decade. However, the credit crunch has put a severe crimp on demand for sulphur over the short term, while longer term China is looking at much greater production of elemental sulphur, primarily from its own sour gas fields, but additionally from increased processing of sour Middle Eastern crude oil at new refineries.

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Titanium dioxide and sulphuric acid

Summary

One major industrial use for sulphuric acid is in the production of titanium dioxide. Although for some years the death of the sulphate route to titanium dioxide has been predicted, it nevertheless continues to be a major sector of that industry.

Abstract

Titanium dioxide is a brilliant white compound with a high refractive index. This means that when it is dispersed in a binding agent, typically a resin of some kind, it tends to have a greater difference from the refractive index of the binder, and hence tends to look whiter and more opaque than other comparable white pigments such as calcium carbonate or zinc sulphate. This gives e.g. paints greater opacity and ‘hiding power’; the ability to cover an underlying coat without the colour showing through, and as such makes titanium dioxide much in demand for paint and ink formulations. Titanium dioxide is also widely used in the paper industry and in plastics for much the same reason, and it is also used as a whitening agent in toothpaste and many other household items. It is also extremely stable with respect to direct sunlight, and so micro-fine grades are used in cosmetics and sunscreens. Overall the paints and coatings industry represents around 60% of the titanium dioxide market, plastics 25% and paper 11%.

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SOGAT 2009

Summary

The Sour Oil and Gas Advanced Technologies (SOGAT) conference was held as usual at the start of April at the Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

Abstract

Now into its 5th year, the SOGAT conference is becoming increasingly important in a region which is starting to see large-scale exploitation of sour gas reserves.

Ismail al-Ramahi, Manager of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)’s Gas Processing Division gave the keynote address, in which he praised the international nature of the conference. The Shah Gas Development (SGD) project will benefit, he said, from the experience and expertise of companies and operators from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Europe, the FSU and China. Sour gas development is a technically challenging topic and he hoped that this meeting would help Abu Dhabi gain knowledge of best practise across the industry.

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GASCO's mega size sulphur complex

Summary

Vincent W. Wong and Thomas K. Chow of Fluor Energy and Chemicals, Salah El Din Madkour of Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Ltd and Mark S. Elkins of ConocoPhillips discuss the 10,000 t/d sulphur recovery and tail gas treating complex for the GASCO Shah Gas Development Project1, designed to minimise an anticipated shortfall of injection and sales gas in Abu Dhabi.

Abstract

ADNOC and ConocoPhillips have created a joint venture to address an anticipated shortage of injection and sales gases in Abu Dhabi by undertaking a project to develop the Shah Arab sour gas reservoir. This project has been designated as the Shah Gas Development (SGD) Project.

The SGD Project is designed to process 1,000 MMscfd of sour gas from 20 production wells. Well fluid from the Shah reservoir is extremely sour, with H2S and CO2 levels as high as 23 mol-% and 10 mol-% respectively. The acid gas removal units in the project are designed to produce a sweet gas containing less than 20 ppmv of H2S. With this level of purification, the licensed sulphur recovery/tail gas treating complex is responsible for the removal of nominally 10,000 t/d of elemental sulphur from the sour acid gas feeds.

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Safe passage to Madagascar

Summary

Project location and infrastructure can present big challenges in the construction of new world-scale sulphuric acid plants. For the Ambatovy nickel project's sulphuric acid facilities, Bateman's strategy of prefabrication and shipment of single complete units resulted in significantly less time required for site erection, improved quality and reduced risk of incidents on site.

Abstract

The construction of the sulphuric acid facilities for the Ambatovy nickel ­project in Tamatave, Madagascar is well underway. Bateman engineering was awarded the $36 million fixed price lump sum contract for the construction of the acid plant facilities in August 2008, following the successful completion of the engineering and procurement phase of the project. The contract covers the erection and commissioning up to handover to the client for hot commissioning of two 2,750 t/d sulphur burning acid plants. This will be the first greenfield sulphuric acid production facility to be designed and supplied by Bateman in 30 years and marks an important re-entry into this significant utility market.

Bateman Engineering provides comprehensive process design and project management skills for establishing new or upgrading existing sulphuric acid facilities utilising sulphur burning, acid regeneration, as well as pyrite roasting, with associated gas cleaning operations to ensure compliance with international environmental ­regulations.

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Maintaining high SRU reliability

Summary

Current technology is continually improving many of the devices used in sulphur recovery units. Jim Hampsten of Principal Technology Engineering, Inc. takes a look at how instrumentation for critical measurements and controls has evolved in sulphur recovery units.

Abstract

It is widely recognised in today’s environmentally conscious world that instrumentation is a key aspect for the smooth operation and reliability of sulphur recovery units. Several of the measurements and controls are critical to the running of the unit and its ability to remain on-line. Adding to the challenge of maintaining high SRU reliability is the fact that many of the important measurements are difficult to make. The key instrumentation discussed in this article includes:

  • reaction furnace temperature measurement;
  • reaction furnace flame scanning;
  • nozzle purging;
  • tail gas analysers;
  • tail gas diverter valves;
  • flow measurement;
  • shutdown systems.

Recent experience has shown that a review of the history of each of these parameters or systems is often useful in addressing problems and challenges associated with each. Revisiting the purposes for each measurement or control element, installation best practices, available instrumentation options, and aspects of each instrument as it relates to unit operation frequently proves to be valuable. This article is not intended to be exhaustive regarding instrumentation in sulphur recovery units. Rather, the focus of this article is to recognise the development of these instruments and systems, to provide a solid basis for evaluating these key measurements and controls, and give direction for installing or upgrading these instruments in most sulphur and tail gas treating units.

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