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Gas Absorption

Absorption and Stripping

Absorption (or scrubbing) is the removal of a component (the solute or absorbate) from a gas stream via uptake by a nonvolatile liquid (the solvent or absorbent). Stripping (or desorption) is the removal of a component from a liquid stream via vaporization and uptake by an insoluble gas stream. Thus, absorption and stripping are opposite unit operations, and are often used together as a cycle. Both absorption and stripping can be operated as equilibrium stage processes using trayed columns or, more commonly, using packed columns.

Absorber/Stripper Cycle

Absorption operations

Absorption Systems Physical

Examples: CO2 and water Acetylene and acetic acid CO and water NH3 and acetone Ethane and carbon disulfide H2S and water NH3 and water N2 and methyl acetate NO2 and water NO and ethanol Physical absorption relies on the solubility of a particular gas in a liquid. This solubility is often quite low; consequently, a relatively large amount of liquid solvent is needed to obtain the required separation. This liquid solvent containing the solute is typically regenerated by heating or stripping to drive the solute back out. Because of the low solubility and large solvent amounts required in physical absorption, chemical absorption is also used

Absorption Systems Chemical

Chemical absorption relies on reaction of a particular gas with a reagent in a liquid. Examples:
CO2 / H2S and aqueous ethanolamines CO2 / H2S and aqueous hydroxides CO and aqueous Cu ammonium salt SO2 and aqueous dimethyl aniline HCN and aqueous NaOH HCl / HF and aqueos NaOH

This absorption can often be quite high; consequently, a smaller amount of liquid solvent/reagent is needed to obtain the required separation. However, the reagent may be relatively expensive, and it is often desirable to regenerate when possible.

Absorption and Stripping Assumptions

The carrier gas(inert gas) is insoluble (or it has a very low solubility), e.g, N2 or Ar in water. The solvent is nonvolatile (or it has a low vapor pressure), e.g., water in air at low temperatures. The system is isothermal. e.g., the effects of heat of solution or reaction are low or there is a cooling or heating system in the column. The system is isobaric. The concentration of the solute is low, say <10% this is the limit for the use of Henrys Law,

AmmoniaEquilibrium Data for Ammonia-Water System

Equilibrium Data for SO2-H2O System

Material Balance in an Absorption Tray Tower

Material Balance Diagram for Plate Column

Absorption: Design considerations

(mole fraction of A in V)

The driving force for mass transfer

y yb

equilibrium line

ye yn +1


xa xn


x*b x
(mole fraction of A in L)

Operating and equilibrium lines: (a) for gas absorption (b) for for desorption

No. of Theoretical Stages in Plate Absorbers

Graphical Solution Mc Cabe-Thiele Method (a) Using mole fractions (x, y) To determine the theoretical number of stages, plot the equilibrium diagram (EC) and the operating line (OL). From the point (x0,y1) or (xa, ya) draw triangular steps using alternately the OL and EC until the point (xN, yN+1) or (xb, yb) is reached or overrun. The theoretical no. of stages is equivalent to the no. of triangles formed. (b) Using mole ratios ( X, Y)

McCabeMcCabe-Thiele Plot Absorber

McCabeMcCabe-Thiele Plot Stripper

Absorption Factor Method

Concentration Differences

No. of Theoretical Stages in Plate Absorbers

Analytical Solution If OL and EC are both linear use Absorption Factor or Kremser Equation (a) based on the gas phase (V phase)
ln N = yb y* b ya ln A y* a = ln ln yb y* b ya y* a yb ya y* y* b a

where :

N = no. of theoretical stages or plates y* = equilibrium concentration corresponding to x A = absorption factor A = L = y b y a * *

mV yb ya

No. of Theoretical Stages in Plate Absorbers

Analytical Solution If OL and EC are both linear use Absorption Factor or Kremser Equation (a) based on the liquid phase (L phase)
ln N = xa x* a xb ln S x* b = ln ln xa x* a xb x* b xa xb x* x* a b

where :

N = no. of theoretical stages or plates x* = equilibrium concentration corresponding to y S= stripping factor

S= xa xb L mV = = * A L x a x* b

Minimum Absorbent Rate Lmin

Limiting Liquid to Gas Ratio

Minimum Liquid to Gas Ratio for Absorption

Minimum Liquid to Gas Ratio for Absorption

For a given gas flow, a reduction in liquid flow decreases the slope of the operating line As the upper end of the operating line (OL) is shifted in the direction of the equilibrium line the concentration of the strong liquor, xb or xn increases. The maximum possible liquor concentration and the minimum liquid rate (Lmin or Lmin) are obtained when the operating line just touches the equilibrium diagram At Lmin or Lmin an infinite no. of plates or an infinitely deep packed section is necessary. At this condition the concentration difference for mass transfer becomes zero at the bottom of the tower

Minimum Liquid to Gas Ratio for Absorption

In any actual tower the liquid rate must be greater than this maximum to achieve the specified change in gas composition

Problem # 1 Plate Absorber

A tray tower is absorbing ethyl alcohol from an inert gas stream kPa. using pure water at 303 K and 101.3 kPa. The inert gas stream flow rate is 100.0 kg/h and it contains 2.2 mol% alcohol. It is desired to recover 90% of the alcohol. The equilibrium relationship is y = mx = 0.68x for the dilute stream. Calculate the number of trays graphically and analytically for an operaing flow rate of 1.3 times the minimum.

Problem # 2 Plate Absorber

A mixture of 5% butane and 95% air is fed to a sieve-plate absorber containing eight ideal plates. The absorbing liquid is a heavy, nonvolatile oil having a molecular weight of 250 and a specific gravity of 0.90. The absorption takes place at 1 atm, and 15oC. The butane is to be recovered to the extent of 95%. The vapor pressure of butane at 15oC is 1.92, and liquid butane has a density of 580 kg/m3 at 15oC. (a) Calculate the cubic meters of fresh absorbing oil per cubic meter of butane recovered. (b) Repeat, on the assumption that the total pressure is 3 atm and all other factors remain constant. Assume that Raoults Law and Daltons Law apply

Problem # 3 - Plate Absorber

A relatively nonvolatile hydrocarbon oil contains 4.0 mol% propane and is being stripped by direct superheated steam in a stripping tray tower to reduce the propane content to 0.2%. The temperature is held constant at 422 K by internal heating in the tower at 2.026 x 105 Pa pressure. A total of 11.42 kgmole direct steam is used for 300 kgmol of total entering liquid. The vapor-liquid equilibria can be represented by y = 25x, where y is mole fraction propane in the steam and x is the mole fraction propane in the oil. Steam can be considered an inert gas and will not condense. Plot the operating and equilibrium and determine the number of theoretical trays needed.

Notes on Absorbers
Note that the operating line for an absorber is above the equilibrium curve. For a given solute concentration in the liquid, the solute concentration in the gas is always greater than the equilibrium value, which provides the driving force for the separation. The solute is transferred from the gas to the liquid in absorption. In distillation, we plotted the more volatile component, which was transferred from the liquid to the gas. In distillation, if we had plotted the less volatile component, which was transferred from the gas to the liquid, the OL would also lie above the equilibrium curve. Also note that the OL is linear. This results because of the form of the operating line where L/V is a constant. L and V are based upon the nonvolatile solvent and insoluble carrier gas, respectively, which do not change. If we had used mole fractions and total gas and liquid rates, the OL would be curved because the total gas and liquid rates would change since we are removing the solute from the gas and absorbing it into the liquid. One could use mole fractions and the total gas and liquid streams in our calculations only if the solute is in low concentrations, say < 1%, in most systems. Dont confuse this requirement with that for the use of Henrys Law, which requires low solute concentrations, < 10%, to be valid.

Final Notes on Strippers

We use the same assumptions and mole ratio methods that we used for absorbers for the design of strippers. The OL will be the same as that used for absorbers. The difference, compared to an absorber, is that the equilibrium curve will be below the operating line. This is analogous to the stripping section of a distillation column. Just as we stepped up from the bottom of a distillation columns stripping section, we step up from the bottom of the stripper. Thus, one uses the same McCabe-Thiele algorithm method that we used for stepping up in distillation. In the algorithm, the equilibrium relationship is expressed as YEq = YEq(XEq), and the operating line is expressed in the form YOL = XOL(YOL). Otherwise, the design approach for strippers is the same as that for absorbers.