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Gas Dehydration Using Glycol

Manning and Thompson, Volume I Chapter 8


Introduction Process Description Design Methods Design Examples Troubleshooting

NATCO Glycol Dehydration Unit

The NATCO glycol dehydration process removes water vapor from natural gas. Removing water vapor prevents hydrate formation and corrosion, and maximizes pipeline efficiency.

1.4 Bscfd Glycol Dehydration Plant

Why Should We Dehydrate Gas?

If left in gas, water can cause:

Solid hydrate formation under certain conditions. Corrosion, especially in the presence of CO2 or H2S. Slugging (two-phase flow) and erosion. Increase in specific volume and decrease in the
heating value of gas. Freezing in cryogenic and refrigerated absorption plants.

Sales gas contracts and/or piping specifications

have a maximum water content (typically 7 lbm per MMscf).

Methods of Dehydration

Liquid Desiccants (glycols):

glycol and solid desiccants. process.

Desiccant is substance that has an affinity for water Usually the choice of dehydration method is between Glycol dehydration is by far the most commonly used

Methods of Dehydration

Solid Desiccants (alumina, silica gel, molecular

sieves): Characterized by porous structure that contains very

large internal surface areas (200-800 m2/g) with very small radii of curvature (0.001-0.2 mm) Strong affinity for water Capacities between 5-15% by weight Can dry gas to less than 0.1 ppm of water or a dew point of 150 F.

Methods of Dehydration

Expansion Refrigeration:

Also known as low-temperature extraction (LTX). Employs Joule-Thompson expansion (isothermal

J-T expansion requires large pressure drops. Because of large pressures drops, LTX is used only
when the prime objective is condensate recovery.

expansion) to dry the gas and recover condensate.

Calcium Chloride:

Anhydrous calcium chloride absorbs 1 lbm H2O per lbm

of CaCl2 before becoming brine.

Glycol vs. Solid Desiccants

Advantages of glycol over solid desiccants:

50% less at 10 MMscfd 33% less at 50 MMscfd

Lower installed cost (Kohl and Riesenfeld, 1979) Lower pressure drop (5-10 psi vs. 10-50 psi for dry Glycol dehydration is continuous rather than batch. Glycol makeup is easily accomplished. Glycol units require less regeneration heat per pound

of water removed. Glycol units can typically dehydrate natural gas to 0.5 lbm H2O/MMscf

Glycol vs. Solid Desiccants

Disadvantages of glycol over solid desiccants:

Water dew points below -25 F require stripping gas

and a Stahl column. Glycol is susceptible to contamination. Glycol is corrosive when contaminated or decomposed.

Comparison Continued

Advantages of solid desiccants:

Dew points as low as 150 F. They are less affected by small changes in gas

pressure, temperature and flow rate. They are less susceptible to corrosion or foaming.

Comparison Continued

Disadvantages solid desiccants:

Higher capital cost and higher pressure drops. Desiccant poisoning by heavy HCs, H2S, CO2, etc. Mechanical breaking of desiccant particles. High regeneration heat requirements and high utility

Bottom Line:

Glycol dehydration is by far the most commonly

Choice of Glycol Ethylene glycol (EG) Diethylene glycol (DEG) Triethylene glycol (TEG) Tetraethylene glycol (TREG) TEG has gained almost universal
acceptance as the most costeffective choice because: TEG is more easily regenerated TEG has a higher decomposition




TEG dew point depressions range from 40 150 oF while inlet pressures and temperatures range from 75 2500 psig and from 55 to 160 oF, respectively.

temperature of 404 F while DEG is 328 F. Vaporization losses are lower than EG or DEG TEG is not too viscous above 70 F.

Flow Diagram for TEG Dehydration

(Typical of Wellhead Unit)

Remove Water Vapor

Reboiler boils water out of Glycol

Remove Liquid and solids

Wet Glycol Needs Reconcentration

Preheat Rich Glycol & Cool Lean Glycol

Flow Diagram for Glycol System

Skimmer Added to Remove Condensate

Additional Heat Exchangers Added to Reduce Fuel Consumption & Protects Glycol Pump

Glycol Absorber with Integral Scrubber

TEG Circulation Rates of 1.5 to 4 gal per lbm water removed

Absorber Section Usually Contains 4 to 12 Bubble Cap Trays

50% of All Dehydration Problems are Caused by Inadequate Scrubbing of Inlet Gas


Skimmer or Flash Tank

Rich Glycol & Condensate Feed

Purpose: Knock Condensate out of Glycol Operating Parameters:

Two-Phase Separator with 5-10
minutes liquid retention time. and 50-75 psig.

Or Three-Phase Separator with 20-30 Optimum Conditions are 100-150 F Better condensate-glycol separation is
obtained with horizontal flash tanks; vertical separators require less platform space.

minutes retention time required.

Rich Glycol to Reboiler

Filters Purpose:
Prevent pump wear, plugging of heat

Operating Parameters:

exchangers, foaming, fouling of contactor trays, cell corrosion and hot spots on the fire tubes.

Keep solids below 100 ppm Sock filter designed to remove 5 Sock filters are designed for an initial
micron and larger particles pressure loss of 3 to 6 psi and change out at 15 to 25 psi. Activated charcoal filters used to remove condensate, surfactants and treating chemicals.

Glycol Pump Purpose:


Returns LP lean glycol to HP contact Contains only moving parts in unit A spare pump should be provided

Operating Parameters:

since dehydration stops when glycol circulation stops. Typically a positive displacement (PD) pump. Can be HP gas, HP liquid, or electric motor driven.

Surge Tank Purpose:

Reservoir to handle a complete drain-

Operating Parameters:

down of TEG from the absorber-tower trays.

Should be designed to operate at half A gas blanket is recommended to

prevent oxygen contamination. full under normal operation.

Reboiler Purpose:
Provides heat necessary to boil the
water out of the rich or wet glycol.

Operating Parameters:

Direct fired heaters often used Indirect heating offshore. TEG does not undergo thermal

decomposition if temperature is kept below 400 F. U-shaped fire tube should be sized for 6000-8000 Btu/hr-ft2. Water comes off as steam.

Instrumentation Lean Design


PC on exit gas line PI on contactor TI on contactor LC on contactor PSV on reboiler shell TSH on glycol in reboiler (to shutdown panel) TI on glycol in reboiler TIC on glycol in reboiler connected to TCV on fuel gas to main burner TSH on stack gas temperature (to shutdown panel) BSL flame sensor on burner (to shutdown panel) PI on fuel line to main burner PCV on fuel line to main burner SDV on fuel line to main burner (activated by shutdown panel) SDV on pilot fuel line (activated by shutdown panel) LAH on glycol level in glycol flash tank LAL on glycol level in glycol flash tank BAL on flame in main burner TAH on glycol temperature in reboiler OR on stack gas temperature LAH on integral scrubber in contactor

Low burner flame alarm Burner flame sensor Level control High liquid level alarm Low liquid level alarm Pressure control Pressure control valve Pressure indicator Pressure shutdown valve Shutdown valve High level temperature alarm Temperature control valve Temperature indicator Temperature indicating controller High temperature shutdown


Shutdown Panel

Operating Temperatures
PROCESS LOCATION Inlet gas Glycol into absorber Glycol into flash separator or skimmer Glycol into filters Glycol into still Top of still Reboiler TEG entering pump TEMPERATURE OR TEMPERATURE RANGE (F) 80 100 5 15 warmer than gas 100 150 (prefer 150) 100 150 (prefer 150) 300 350 210 190 with stripping gas 380 400 (prefer 380) 350 yields 98.5 wt% TEG 400 yields 99.0 wt% TEG <200 (prefer 180)

Process Operation

Contactor or Absorber: Inlet Gas Flow Rate:

Operating efficiency depends on the inlet gas flow

rate, temperature, and pressure and also the lean glycol concentration, temperature, and circulation rate.

Load (lbs water to be removed/hr) varies directly with

feed gas flow rate. Most contactors have been designed conservatively and can handle flow rates 5 to 10% above capacity. Lower flow limit set by 5 to 1 turndown ratio of the bubble caps.

Process Operation

Inlet Gas Temperature:

Inlet gas may be assumed to enter the absorber McKetta and Wehes correlation shows that at 1000
saturated with water vapor. psia, the water content increases from 33 to 62 to 102 lb H2O/MMscf as the temperature increases from 80, to 100 to 120 F. Pressure is not as severe: at 100 F, the water content is 62, 72 and 87 lbm H2O /MMscf at 1000, 800 and 600 psia.

Entering TEG temperature and concentration:

The drying ability of the TEG is limited by the vapor-

liquid equilibrium of water between the gas phase and the liquid TEG phase.

Dew Point Chart

TEG-H2O system

Process Operation (contd)

Glycol Circulation Rate:

The water picked up by the glycol increases with inlet

glycol concentration, decreasing glycol temperature, higher circulation rates, and the number of contactor trays. A glycol circulation rate of 3 gal/lbm water removed is conservative but commonly used in the past. Recent energy conservation practices have lowered the rate to 2 gal/lbm of water removed.

Process Operation (contd)

Dehydration Temperature:

While TEG can dehydrate natural gas at operating

temperatures from 50 F to 130 F, the preferred temperatures range is 80-100 F. Below 70 F, glycol is too viscous. Above 110 F, the inlet gas contains too much water and the drying ability of the glycol is reduced.


Usually operated at atmospheric pressure. Temperature ranges from 350 to 400 F.

Boiling Point of TEG Solutions

Normal range for Reboiler

Stripping Column


Increase glycol concentrations

up to 99.6 wt% by sparging stripping gas directly into the reboiler.

Optimum Values for Glycol Analysis

Design Method

Obtain Design Information Select an appropriate combination of:

Lean glycol concentration Circulation rate Absorber trays Establish the required balances: Material Energy Size Equipment

Required Information

Inlet gas flow rate, pressure & temperature Required water dew point or water content of

exit gas Inlet gas analysis or inlet gas gravity & acid gas content

Required Information

Other important considerations:

stripper overhead

Available utilities Safety & environmental regulations for discharging

TEG-H2O-VLE Comparison

Parrish et. al. (1986) compared existing VLE data for TEG-waternatural gas and found considerable disagreement. Dehydrated natural gas leaving absorber cannot contain less water than that which would be in equilibrium with entering lean glycol. Equilibrium is never reached. In practice, the water dew point of dried gas leaving the absorber is 5-10 F higher than equilibrium dew point. Rule of thumb, dew-point depression is 60 F for first four trays and 7 F for each additional tray.

Glycol Absorber (Contactor) Sizing the absorber involves

specifying: Type and number of trays The TEG circulation rate The column diameter Sizing can be done by charts such as Sivalls (1976) or Worley (1987) or more recently by Olbrich and Manning (1988): Actual trays: 4-12 Lean glycol conc., w/o 98.5-99.9 Circ. rate, gal TEG/lb H2O 1.5-6 Temperature, F 80 and 100 Pressure, psia 300-400

Glycol Absorber Diameter Diameter of Absorber:

Vmax = K SB
Q = Vmax A

rL - rV rV

4Q pVmax

Vmax = maximum gas superficial velocity (ft/hr) Ksb = Souders-Brown coefficient (ft/hr) = 660 ft/hr for towers 30 larger with 18 tray spacing.. rL = Glycol density (lbm/ft3) rV = Gas density at column conditions (lbm/ft3)

Predicted Dew Point Depression

1 & 1.5 Equilibrium Stages, 100 F and 600 psia

Predicted Dew Point Depression

2 & 2.5 Equilibrium Stages, 100 F and 600 psia

Predicted Dew-Point Depression

3 Equilibrium Stages 100 F, 600 psia

Predicted Dew Point Depression

1 & 1.5 Equilibrium Stages 80 F, 600 psia

Predicted Dew Point Depression

2 & 2.5 Equilibrium Stages 80 F, 600 psia

Predicted Dew Point Depression

3 Equilibrium Stages 80 F, 600 psia

Glycol Pump Sizing Pump:


Use Reciprocating pump Assume pump efficiency of Calculate temperature rise

based on converting mechanical work into enthalpy change. Can use quick estimate for pump break horsepower

kW = 1.2 10 -5 (gph )(psig )

BHP = 1.2 10 -5 (gph ) (psig )

gph = gallons TEG per hour

Glycol Flash Separator

Wet glycol is flashed at 50-100 psia and 100150 F. Liquid retention times are 5-10 min. for gasglycol. Liquid retention times are 20-30 min. for gas-condensate-glycol. Vertical Separator:

Horizontal Separator:

Height (ft) = 3.4 + (0.4) (gpm) Where gpm = gal TEG circulated/min Minimum height =4 ft Maximum height =10 ft Minimum diameter =1.5 ft

L/D ratio = 3 Min. length = 3 ft Min. diameter = 2 ft

Glycol Stripping Still

Computer programs usually consider the stripping column as three theoretical trays:

Diameter of stripping column is based on the required vapor and liquid loads at the base of the column. An approximate diameter equation is

Reboiler Packed stripping column Reflux condenser

D=9 Q
where D = Still diameter (in) Q = TEG circulation rate (gpm)

Conservative design and field test data dictate that the packed section should be at least 4 ft high, and that this height be increased to 8 ft for a 1 MMBtu/hr unit (Sivalls, 1976)

Glycol Reboiler Duty can be calculated as:

Q r = 900 + 966 m
where Qr= regenerator duty Btu/lbm H2O m = gal TEG/lbm H2O

A more detailed procedure is illustrated in

the design example below. Design duty is calculated requirement duty
plus 5% of condenser and glycol exchanger duties. Vapor disengagement area is based on 14,000 Btu/hr-ft2 heat flux across the vapor liquid interface. Reboiler shell L/D ratio is 5. Minimum D is 1.5 ft, minimum L = 3.5 ft.

Glycol Heat Exchangers

Reflux condenser Lean-glycol-dry gas


Glycol Heat Exchangers

Reflux Condenser Exchanger: Glycol-glycol:


Design duty plus 5% for fouling. Seider-Tate correlation used for the heat transfer Design duty + 5% for fouling. Entering temperatures Set the approach or lean glycol in rich glycol out = Two or more heat exchangers should be placed in
60 F to minimize preheat of the rich glycol. series to avoid any temperature cross. for the lean and rich streams known.

Lean glycol cooler:

Lean glycol outlet temp. should be 5-10 F hotter than

the inlet gas to absorber. Therefore, the lean glycol is cooled from 180-200 F down to 110 120 F.