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Research Papers: Heat and Mass Transfer

Low-Temperature Distillation Process for CO2/CH4 Separation: A Study for Avoiding CO2 Freeze-Out

[+] Author and Article Information
Ahmed M. Yousef

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering,
Alexandria University,
21544 ElHoriya Street,
Alexandria 21544, Egypt;
Renewable Energy Engineering Department,
Zewail City of Science and Technology,
Giza 12588, Egypt
e-mail: post-ahmed.yousef@alexu.edu.eg

Wael M. El-Maghlany

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering,
Alexandria University,
21544 ElHoriya Street,
Alexandria 21544, Egypt
e-mail: Elmaghlany@alexu.edu.eg

Yehia A. Eldrainy

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering,
Alexandria University,
21544 ElHoriya Street,
Alexandria 21544, Egypt
e-mail: yeldrainy@alexu.edu.eg

Abdelhamid Attia

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering,
Alexandria University,
21544 ElHoriya Street,
Alexandria 21544, Egypt
e-mail: abdelhamid28_eg@yahoo.com

Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF HEAT TRANSFER. Manuscript received November 1, 2016; final manuscript received August 10, 2017; published online December 27, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Ali Khounsary.

J. Heat Transfer 140(4), 042001 (Dec 27, 2017) (14 pages) Paper No: HT-16-1709; doi: 10.1115/1.4038193 History: Received November 01, 2016; Revised August 10, 2017

In published literature, only very limited studies were carried out for low-temperature biogas upgrading for CO2/CH4 mixture separation due to the freeze-out of CO2 under low temperature, which causes several operational problems. Therefore, the present study aims to provide in-depth analysis for a low-temperature distillation process of a typical model of biogas mixture (CH4 + CO2) to tackle the problem of freezing. The process has been optimized by means of varying distillation column feed pressure, temperature and CO2 concentration, reflux ratio, feed stage number, and produced methane purity to lower the risk of CO2 freezing in the column. The modeling results reveal a substantial feature of the low-temperature process that it can capture CO2 in liquid phase with a purity of 99.5 mol % as a valuable byproduct for transport. Additionally, it is found that increasing the column reflux ratio mitigates the risk of CO2 freeze-out allowing the column to reach higher CH4 purities (up to 97 mol %) without CO2 solidification. Moreover, the occurrence of CO2 freeze-out in the column is not affected within a relatively wide range of feed CO2 concentrations. The low-temperature technique can serve as a new promising approach for biogas upgrading overcoming the risk of CO2 frosting.

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Figures

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The principal layout of the low-temperature CO2 separation model

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Fig. 2

Distillation column trays temperature and the corresponding CO2 freeze-out temperature

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Fig. 3

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the temperature difference of column trays (condenser stageand trays 1–4). Temperature difference is the difference between tray temperature and tray CO2 freeze-out temperature.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the minimum temperature difference located in the column between column trays temperature and CO2 freeze-out temperature

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Fig. 5

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the temperature difference of column trays (condenser stage and trays 1–4) at different column CH4 purities (98, 96, 94 and 92 mol %). Temperature difference is the difference between tray temperature and tray CO2 freeze-out temperature.

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Fig. 6

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the minimum temperature difference located in the column between column trays temperature and CO2 freeze-out temperature at different column CH4 purities (98, 96, 94, and 92 mol %)

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Fig. 7

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the temperature difference of column trays (condenser stage and trays 1–3) at several column reflux ratio (0.8, 2.5, 5, and 10). Temperature difference is the difference between tray temperature and tray CO2 freeze-out temperature.

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Fig. 8

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the minimum temperature difference located in the column between column trays temperature and CO2 freeze-out temperature at several column reflux ratio (0.8, 2.5, 5, and 10)

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Fig. 9

Distillation column trays temperature and the corresponding CO2 freeze-out temperature when operating the column at six different CH4 purities (92, 93, 94, 95, 96, and 97 mol %)

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Fig. 10

The energy penalties for CO2 recovery unit in case of operating the column with avoiding CO2 freeze-out at six different CH4 purities (92, 93, 94, 95, 96, and 97 mol %)

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Fig. 11

The effect of changing distillation column reflux ratio on the produced liquid CO2 purity and the specific energy consumption per unit of CO2 captured

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Fig. 12

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the temperature difference of column trays, which are more vulnerable to the risk of CO2 freezing, at different column feed tray (tray 1, 3, 6, and 9). Temperature difference is the difference between tray temperature and tray CO2 freeze-out temperature.

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Fig. 13

The effect of changing distillation column feed pressure on the minimum temperature difference located in the column between column trays temperature and CO2 freeze-out temperature at different column feed tray (tray 1, 3, 6, and 9)

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Fig. 14

The effect of changing distillation column feed CO2 concentration on the temperature difference of column trays (condenser stage and trays 1–6). Temperature difference is the difference between tray temperature and tray CO2 freeze-out temperature.

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Fig. 15

The effect of changing process feed CO2 concentration on the CO2 separation ratio and the specific energy per unit of CO2 captured

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Fig. 16

The effect of changing process feed CO2 concentration on the produced liquid CO2 purity and methane loss of the process

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Fig. 17

The effect of changing distillation column feed temperature on the temperature difference of column trays (condenser stage and trays 1–6) together with the feed stream. Temperature difference is the difference between tray or stream temperature and tray or stream CO2 freeze-out temperature.

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Fig. 18

The effect of changing distillation column feed temperature on the produced liquid CO2 purity and the specific energy consumption per unit of CO2 captured

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