Amine tail gas treatment

Jon Lawson

The largest US-based independent oil and gas producer and one of the largest independent processors of natural gas and natural gas liquids in North America was in search of new technologies to maintain the pollution control efficiency at their natural gas treatment facility.

In typical gas plants, the well head natural gas needs to be treated to remove water, CO2, any sulphur compounds and heavy hydrocarbons before it is sent to the pipeline.

The acid gases formed by CO2 and H2S are normally removed by amine adsorption. The amine must then be stripped of these acid gases in order to be reused.

The amine stripper off gas (tail gas) needs to be treated before discharge to atmosphere to remove residual hydrocarbons and meet EPA regulations.

Gas and oil plants have historically used direct-fired thermal oxidisers with no heat recovery for tail gas treatment.

The existing thermal oxidiser at this facility was using a considerable amount of auxiliary fuel to maintain temperatures of 1,500°F, ensuring all the organics were combusted but costing them a significant amount of money in operating costs.

Dedicated to finding a less expensive means of regulatory compliance, the oil and gas producer challenged several air pollution control manufacturers to provide a system that was not only effective, but also energy efficient.

Anguil Environmental offered a 7,500 SCFM Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) with heat recovery for efficient and effective operation.

With the Anguil two-bed RTO, the contaminated process gas is pre-heated as it passes through beds of ceramic media located in the energy recovery chambers.

The process gas moves from the pre-heat chamber toward the combustion chamber, where the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are oxidised, releasing energy into the second energy recovery chamber before going to atmosphere.

A diverter valve switches the process gas direction so both energy recovery beds are fully utilised, thereby reducing any auxiliary fuel requirement. This system is designed for heat recovery of 85% and is self-sustaining, requiring little auxiliary fuel use. This energy-efficient design offers significantly lower operating costs in comparison to other emission treatment methods.

The RTO is designed to prevent corrosion by the acid gases and to handle the high organic loading with low oxygen levels.

The gas at this facility is ‘sweet’ and does not contain any H2S but precautions were taken to prevent carbonic acid attack due to the CO2.

In addition, Anguil provided a Class 1, Division 2, Group D control package. Heated, fresh air was also introduced into the system, providing supplemental oxygen without condensing moisture in the process stream.

The Anguil RTO is achieving 99% DRE (Destruction Rate Efficiency) and is expected to save the customer $500,000 per year in natural gas cost over the direct-fired thermal oxidiser. 

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