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CEW Features

Applying the Right Mist Elimination Physics


Separating liquid droplets from a gas
stream loaded with mist or from a
gas-liquid stream under high pressure,
the selection of the right technology
is essential to achieve the desired
performance and specification. The
article talks about some scenarios
when mist elimination becomes
crucial in petrochemical and chemical
industries, and gives an insight
into many innovative methods and
technologies that have been proven as
a low cost, highly versatile and efficient
while executing mist elimination and
allied separation process.
Computer-aided design of a mist eliminator - Image Courtesy Sulzer

D
uring Mist Elimination, it is very falling film condensers, knock-out vessels, Derating factors are often applied to
important to understand and apply three-phase separators, desalination allow a safety margin for exceptional
the physics properly within various plants, refrigeration plants, gas dehydration conditions such as liquid slugs and gas
applications, e.g. a vane-pack may work plants and compression systems. For surges, and the K-value must be optimised
properly under normal atmospheric best performance, it is important to to suit specific process conditions, and
conditions, but in a high-pressure achieve uniform gas flow distribution challenging physical properties such as low
hydrocarbon system, the physical properties and maximum effective area. The most surface tension systems. The selection of
of the system completely change, thus appropriate positioning is critical, in terms K-value is therefore critical. A summary of
rendering conventional mist elimination of disengagement distances from vessel the relative performance characteristics for
devices practically useless at times. Also, inlet, outlet and other vessel internals. mist elimination is listed in Table 1.
in many debottlenecking and revamp cases
within the gas, petrochemical and chemical For equipment based on direct and/or inertial Sulzer KnitMesh TM
industry, one comes across situations interception, gas stream velocity affects Wire Mesh Mist Eliminators
where capacity and separation performance all three principles involved in separation Sulzer KnitMesh mist eliminators have an
are limited by the type of separation (impingement, coalescence and drainage). excellent track record as a low cost, highly
device chosen. This calls for innovative Flooding, or reentrainment of liquid, can versatile and efficient method of removing
technologies; say for instance, separation occur if the flow of gas prevents drainage. liquid entrainment from gas streams. They
of liquid droplets from the gas-liquid mixture The effective area of the mist eliminator are produced as a bed of knitted mesh,
by imparting higher centrifugal forces. is therefore established by determining which presents a tortuous path and large
an appropriate superficial velocity for the surface area to the droplets entrained in
Liquid entrainment in a process gas stream equipment using the well-known Souders the gas stream. Separation is achieved
can be formed by either dynamic processes Brown equation (1). by impingement on, and capture by, the
such as contact between gas and liquid filaments of the mesh where the droplets
phases in a mass transfer operation or ...........................(1) coalesce and drain (Figure 1). Installation
thermal processes such as condensation. can be made in a variety of ways but gas flow
Sulzer mist eliminators provide an v = maximum superficial gas velocity is usually either vertically upwards, with the
effective solution to liquid entrainment l = liquid density liquid draining counter current to gas flow,
problems in many types of equipment v = gas density or horizontal, with the liquid draining in a
including scrubbing, absorption, stripping K = a constant which is specific to the direction perpendicular to the gas flow. They
or distillation columns, evaporators, selected type of separation equipment provide excellent separation efficiency down

54 August 2012 Chemical Engineering World


Features CEW

Vane packs Vane packs Axial Knitted mesh mist


simple vanes with drainage cyclones eliminators
channels
Gas handling High High Very high Moderate
capacity
Turndown 30% - 50% 30% - 50% 30% 25%
capacity Higher with
preconditioner
Efficiency High down to High down to High down to Very high
Figure 3: Higher capacity with Sulzer KnitMesh V-MISTER
approx. 25 m approx. 25 m approx. 10 m down to 2-5 m
Liquid load Moderate High High Moderate gas velocity is so low that re-entrainment
capacity is limited. This simple enhancement
to a standard mesh pad improves mist
Solids handling Moderate Low Moderate-high Low
elimination because the higher velocities
capability
increase the droplets inertial impaction
Liquid viscosity Suitable for Prone to fouling Suitable for Prone to fouling with with the wires or filaments. In addition, the
high viscosities/ with high liquid high viscosities/ high liquid viscosities/ strategically placed collecting channels
waxes viscosities/ waxes waxes provide higher operational gas and liquid
waxes flow capacity (Figure 3).
Pressure drop Low Low Moderate Low
Table 1: Summary of relative performance characteristics for mist elimination Sulzer Mellachevron TM Mist Eliminator
Sulzer Mellachevron vane mist eliminators
are high capacity inertial separators
constructed as banks of parallel, chevron
profiles, which cause the gas to change
direction several times from inlet to outlet.
Momentum forces entrained liquid droplets
to impinge on the vane surfaces where they
form a liquid film and drain. The Sulzer
Mellachevron range is divided into a number
of categories depending on direction of gas
flow and the complexity of the vane p r o f i l e .

Simple Sulz er Mellac hev ro n profiles


separate liquid by impingement,
coalescence and drainage on the vane
surface with no disengagement of the liquid
Figure 1: Gas-liquid separation using Sulzer KnitMesh Wiremesh Mist Eliminator from the gas stream. They are particularly
suitable for applications with a significant
Sulzer KnitMesh V-MISTER TM risk of fouling due to solid particles or
The Sulzer V-MISTER provides high high viscosity liquids in the feed but have
performance wherever liquid entrainment relatively low gas handling capacity. More
must be removed from a vertically sophisticated designs provide special
flowing gas stream. Mist eliminators with separation channels to allow disengagement
Sulzer V-MISTER technology employ the of liquid and drainage from the vane surface.
mechanism of a von Karman Roll around This increases the capacity of the separator
a bluff body (Figure 2) to obtain high and gas load factors of up to 0.45 m/s are
vapour and liquid handling capacity. A possible. This makes them an excellent
vortex develops in a low-pressure zone choice when equipment size is critical, for
down-stream of the channel that has been example, in offshore applications or for
attached to the bottom of the mesh pad. de-bottlenecking existing equipment.
Collected droplets deposit in the trough
and form a flowing liquid stream there. The Combined Systems
Figure 2: Von Karman Roll (V-MISTER) effect high capacity channels of the V-MISTER Increasing gas capacities and higher
shield the collected liquid and then drain performance requirements in mass transfer
to droplet sizes as small as 2 m, and with a it in steady streams from two sides of the equipment are challenging the capabilities
pressure drop typically less than 2.5 m bar. mist eliminator at the column wall, where of conventional mist eliminator equipment.

Chemical Engineering World August 2012 55


CEW Features

Figure 5: Combining different technologies to enhance performance


Figure 4: Gas-liquid separation using Sulzer Mellachevron
Mist Eliminator
bottom cassette and drained. Above ancillary equipment as well. In these
To solve this, Sulzer Chemtech offers the cyclone, the gas, still carrying the applications, the droplet size is in the range
combined systems, which optimise the remaining entrained droplets, is distributed of 525m. To minimise the carryover,
benefits of individual types of equipment radially outward to the cassettes. Each a glycol mist eliminator is required at
and improve overall performance. cassette is equipped with several layers the top of the column in order to satisfy
For example (Figure 5), KnitMesh mist of wire mesh packing which efficiently the stipulated standard of no more than
eliminators can be used in combination separates the remaining droplets by both 13.7 litres loss of glycol per million standard
with Sulzer Mellachevron vane packs direct interception (barrier effect) and cubic metres of gas (0.1 USgal/MMSCF).
or Shell Swirltubes to produce very high inertial interception. The liquid collected in This loss expressly concerns only the
separation efficiencies at high gas loadings. each cassette is drained to the next lower glycol present in liquid form. As a result,
By using the KnitMesh mist eliminator as a cassette by a piping system. Finally, all the a column equipped with high performance
pre-conditioner for the Mellachevron, it is liquid is collected at the bottom cassette packing requires a suitably sized high
operated above its normal entrainment or and then drained downwards out of the capacity mist eliminator to meet design
flooding point and consequently liquid is device through pipes. gas flow rates. The MKS Multi Cassette
stripped away from the downstream surface. mist eliminator ideally combines with
The liquid dispersion reentrained from the Sulzer MellapakPlus in glycol dehydrators
mesh mist eliminator has a larger mean to provide proven performance in natural
diametre and is suitable for subsequent gas drying columns.
separation by secondary, high capacity
equipment. Additional benefits of combined MSK - Application in Separators
systems include: the ability to design the The separation of hydrocarbon liquids
equipment to provide very high turndown from natural gas under high process
capabilities because at low gas velocities, pressure is always a challenge for
where high capacity separators tend to be mist eliminators. Until now, designs for
ineffective, the KnitMesh preconditioners high-capacity separators required axial
behave as conventional mist eliminators. cyclone or vane pack mist eliminators.
However, vane pack mist eliminators are
Sulzer MKS Multi Cassette TM
Figure 6: Principle of the MKS
The Sulzer MKS Multi Cassette separator
was designed to provide higher droplet MKS - Application in Gas Drying Column
removal efficiency and capacity with lower (Glycol Contractor)
costs. The MKS consists of an axial inlet The drying of natural gas in glycol (often
cyclone with a succession of separating TEG) dehydrators is a widely used and
cassettes mounted above it. The inlet well-established process. However, the
cyclone swirls the gas, thereby causing use of modern, high-capacity packing such
some of the droplets to be separated as Sulzer MellapakPlus TM in absorption
initially. This liquid is collected in the columns has increased the demands on Figure 7: Sulzer MKS Multi Cassette

56 August 2012 Chemical Engineering World


Features CEW
generally not recommended for high-pressure
applications containing hydrocarbon liquids
and tend to have relatively low separation
efficiency. Axial cyclones are often the first
choice and are optimally designed for these
tough conditions, but they also require a
higher minimum available installation height
in the separator. When converting separators
to higher capacity, the available installation
height is often limited. Also, modifications
inside the column can be restricted because,
in general, no additional attachments can be
welded directly to the column wall. With the
MKS Multi Cassette mist eliminator, Sulzer
provides an optimal addition to the category
Figure 9: Various vessel arrangements
of high-capacity mist eliminator internals.
is also bled through these slits. This gas When a high capacity and high separation
Shell Swirltube TM leaves the liquid collection chamber via the efficiency is required, SMS (M) technology
Axial flow cyclonic mist eliminators have secondary outlets at the top of the Swirldeck is the lowest weight and volume solution
been widely adopted in hydrocarbon systems assembly. Performance can be improved by for phase separation offshore and onshore.
where high capacity is important. They are using a secondary KnitMesh mist eliminator It gives up to 2.5 times more capacity
often used in high-pressure applications to separate entrainment from the gas leaving compared to a conventional KnitMesh mist
where the performance of vane packs the secondary outlets. The main fraction of eliminator without vessel replacement.
tends to deteriorate and where mesh mist the gas leaves the Swirltube via the primary Shell SMS, SMSM and SMMSM gas/liquid
eliminators are also undesirable because gas outlet at the top. Drain pipes guide separators (Figure 7) are named after the
of their limited capacity and therefore large the liquid, collected in the space between configuration of the different internals used
vessel sizes. The Shell Swirltube (Figure 8) the tubes and on the upper cover of the for each type of separator:
is, in essence, a stainless steel tube with Swirldeck, to below the liquid level. Schoepentoeter or Schoepentoeter Plus
a swirler at the inlet and longitudinal slits (S) - used as feed inlet device for vapour
in the tube wall. Liquid is separated by Scaling-up of a separator equipped with distribution with bulk liquid removal
impaction of droplets and on the tube wall a Swirldeck is done simply by increasing KnitMesh (M) - which acts as coalescer and
by the centrifugal forces induced by the number of Swirltubes proportional to the separator, depending on the gas flow rate
swirling gas flow. gas flow in the separator. D o u b l e P r i m a r y K n i t M e s h ( M M ) -
specially developed for applications
with two immiscible liquid phases in the
Selection of separation technologies is function of the dispersed feed to the separators (such as glycol/
liquid phase concentration, droplet size and the required separation condensate in Dew-Point Separators)
efficiency. Their typical application window is for separation of Swirldeck (S) - comprising multiple Swirltubes.
liquid/gas or three-phase liquid/liquid/gas mixtures. A second KnitMesh (M) is used downstream
of the Swirldeck in SMSM gas/liquid
separators for demisting secondary gas.
Re-entrainment of this liquid is prevented Shell High Capacity Separators In fouling or waxy service, the KnitMesh
by draining the film via the slits to the Shell proprietary high-capacity gas/liquid can be replaced by a Sulzer Mellachevron
liquid collection chamber outside the tube. separators, such as Shell SVS, SMS, vane pack (SVS systems).
To ensure the proper functioning of the SMSM and SMMSM separators,
Swirltube, it is essential that some gas combine the best features of the separation
products from Sulzer Chemtech portfolio.
Shell gas/liquid separators combine
Schoepentoeter, KnitMesh and Swirldeck Author Details
separation technologies in a single vertical Daniel R Egger
vessel drum. Global Product Manager Separation
Sulzer Chemtech Ltd
Selection of separation technologies is Email: daniel.egger@sulzer.com
function of the dispersed liquid phase Vinit Kale
concentration, droplet size and the required Deputy Manager Sales/APT
separation efficiency. Their typical application Sulzer India Ltd.
Email: vinit.kale@sulzer.com
window is for separation of liquid/gas or
Figure 8: Principle of the Shell Swirltube three-phase liquid/liquid/gas mixtures.

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