Absorption allows acidic gases to be dissolved

 Absorption allows
acidic gases to be
dissolved in a solvent,
to be released by
regeneration in a later
stage. Amine
absorption (as shown
on the right) is the most
common process for
acid gas removal.
(MEA) dominates for
CO2 removal. Solutions
with inorganic solvents
based on ammonia are
under development. Ill:
A typical amine gas treating process (as shown in the flow diagram) consists
of an absorber unit, a regenerator unit and accessory equipment. In the
absorber, a "lean" amine solution absorbs H2S and CO2 from the upflowing
sour gas to produce a sweetened gas stream as a product. The "rich" amine
solution contains the absorbed acid gases and is routed into the regenerator
(a stripper with a reboiler). The stripped overhead gas from the regenerator
is concentrated H2S and CO2.
Adsorption relies on the molecules to bind to the surface of certain solids.
After a certain time the material must be regenerated to release the gas.
Principles used include pressure swing adsorption (PSA), temperature swing
adsorption (TSA) and electric swing adsorption (ESA).
Cryogenic removal uses a turbo expander: A gas turbine is driven by the
expanding gas which then cools to below the dew point for the gas to be

The inlet gas to the compressor is precooled by the acid gas removed.
Cryogenic removal is most often used when the content of carbon dioxide is
high, typically around 50%.
Membrane based removal is based on certain materials that allow the acid
gases, but not the hydrocarbons, to diffuse through the membrane. This
procedure can be performed alone or in combination with absorption liquid.
Sulfur Unit. The H2S-rich stripped gas stream is then fed to a Claus
process – a multistage process with two main sections: A thermal section
fires H2S with air or oxygen to produce SO2 and elemental sulfur, which is
released when cooled. A catalytic section allows more H2S to react with SO2
with alumina or titanium dioxide (TiO2) to produce water and elemental sulfur
(the Claus reaction: 2H2S + SO2 → 3S + 2H2O). The Claus process can
recover 95-97% of the sulfur in the feed gases.
A tail gas treatment unit serves to reduce the sulfur content to below 250
ppm, corresponding to a total sulfur recovery of 99.9%. More complex
solutions can reduce total sulfur down to 10 ppm. Some important processes
include SCOT (Shell Claus offgas treatment) which removes SO2 by
combustion with hydrogen over catalysts to produce H2S and water. H2S is
recycled to the Claus unit. Other solutions are the Beavon sulfur removal
process (BSR), based on amine solvent and catalysts.
5.3.2 Dehydration
Dehydration is either glycol-based scrubbers as described in chapter 4.3.2 or
based on pressure swing adsorption (PSA). Newer processes also use
5.3.3 Mercury removal
Mercury removal is generally based on molecular sieves. 

A molecular sieve
is a substance containing a material with tiny pores to achieve a large
surface area, such as activated carbon. The surface of the material allows
certain molecules to bind by surface tension. The molecules can later be
extracted and the sieve material regenerated by heating, pressure and/or
purging with a carrier gas.
A molecular sieve is commonly cyclic with one active unit and one (or more)
units in regeneration.
5.3.4 Nitrogen rejection
Excessive nitrogen is removed by cryogenic distillation and higher
concentrations are removed by absorption with lean oil or another special
solvent if a smaller fraction is detected. (See acid gas removal for both
principles). Cryogenic removal also permits production of helium, if present,
as a valuable byproduct.
5.3.5 NGL recovery and treatment
Remaining NGLs are recovered from the gas stream in most modern plants
by a cryogenic turbo expander-based process followed by a fractionating
process. This process leads the cooled NGLs though distillation columns
called de-ethanizer, de-propanizer and de-butanizer, to extract ethane,
propane and butane respectively and leave a residual stream of pentane and
higher hydrocarbons.
The final step is to remove mercaptans (smelly organic gases, e.g., CH3SH)
if present, in a sweetening process based on molecular sieves adsorption or
catalytic oxidization such as Merox mercaptan oxidization or Sulfrex, where
the main difference is the type of catalyst.

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