A study to investigate the performance of the Benfield-HiPure process of natural gas sweetening using computer simulations

  • Richard Ochieng

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The removal of CO2 and H2S from natural gas is currently a global issue. Apart from meeting the customer's contract, pipeline, and LNG specifications; it is also a measure for reducing the global environmental emissions. The aim of this study is to investigate the performance of ADGAS' Train#3 plant through process simulations. ADGAS' Train#3 plant uses the Benfield HiPure design commissioned by Universal Oil Product (UOP Honeywell) in 1993. The Benfield HiPure process uses two independent but compatible circulating solutions in series to achieve high product purity in terms of acid gas concentrations that meet the LNG industry specifications. The ability to remove contaminants up to very low levels (1ppm H2S, 50ppm CO2 and 2ppm COS) makes the HiPure process an excellent choice for purifying natural gas for LNG requirement. At Das Island, ADGAS' Train#3 facility receives sour gas containing about 6-7 mole % acid gas content. This gas is first contacted with hot potassium carbonate (30wt% K2CO3) promoted with diethanolamine solution (3wt% DEA) followed by a contact with aqueous amine solution (20wt% DEA) alone as the second solvent. In this thesis, ADGAS Train#3 model was developed using the simulator tool ProMax®. Simulation outputs were found to match reasonably well the design and plant operating data. Based on the model predictions, the carbonate absorber seemed to be over designed with much of the acid gases being absorbed at the bottom of the packing. With the confidence that the model is a reliable replicate of the real plant facility, a parametric sensitivity analysis was carried out to develop a strategy of controlling operational uncertainties and enable plant optimization. The parametric sensitivity analysis showed that the liquid circulation rates, solvent concentrations, trim cooler temperatures, feed gas flow rate, and feed gas H2S/CO2 ratio have a considerable effect on the performance of the plant with respect to acid gas removal, gas production capacity and plant energy efficiency. Due to the complexity and high investment cost of the Benfield HiPure process, potential alternatives are evaluated. The alternatives are basically MDEA based solvents with promoters to enable the simultaneous removal of H 2S and CO2. BASF's MDEA, MDEA/DEA or MDEA/DGA processes seem to be the best alternatives to the Benfield HiPure process. Using MDEA/DEA or MDEA/DGA process will reduce the capital costs of ADGAS by 50% , and up to 48% will be saved on the annual power consumption (0.33 million dollars per years) . BASF's MDEA has slightly higher capital costs due to the additional units required on the high pressure flash and the quenching units used to generate the semi-lean solution. However, BASF's MDEA process still stands as one of the best alternatives with a savings of about 102 million dollars (48%) on the capital costs and up to 36% (3.96 USD per ton of acid gas removed) on the cost stripping.
Date of AwardDec 2012
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorAbdallah Berrouk (Supervisor)


  • Applied sciences
  • Desulfurization
  • Natural gas sweetening
  • Chemical engineering
  • Energy
  • 0542:Chemical engineering
  • 0791:Energy

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