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Pressurized Feed Air Expansion in Air Separation Processes

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000019364D
Publication Date: 2003-Sep-12
Document File: 9 page(s) / 64K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

An air separation process separates ambient or synthetic mixtures comprising primarily nitrogen, oxygen and argon into one or more streams that are enriched in one or more of the feed components. A typical example is the production of oxygen from air for use in a chemical process such as the conversion of a hydrocarbon into a synthetic gas stream comprising of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. A second example is the production of nitrogen from air for use as an inert gas for injection into oil or gas fields to enhance hydrocarbon production. A third example is the co-production of oxygen, nitrogen and argon streams in relatively pure form, as liquids and/or gases, for use in a variety of industrial applications.

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Pressurized Feed Air Expansion in Air Separation Processes

         An air separation process separates ambient or synthetic mixtures comprising primarily nitrogen, oxygen and argon into one or more streams that are enriched in one or more of the feed components. A typical example is the production of oxygen from air for use in a chemical process such as the conversion of a hydrocarbon into a synthetic gas stream comprising of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. A second example is the production of nitrogen from air for use as an inert gas for injection into oil or gas fields to enhance hydrocarbon production. A third example is the co-production of oxygen, nitrogen and argon streams in relatively pure form, as liquids and/or gases, for use in a variety of industrial applications.

Air Separation Processes

         Air can be separated into its constituents by a variety of methods. Major categories of air separation processes include adsorption, cryogenic, membrane, and others such as chemical absorption. Within each major category of separation process, many individualized flowsheets or "cycles" have been developed for the manufacture of a specific product or combination of products for different optimization criteria. Examples of optimization criteria include capital cost, power consumption, flexible product manufacture (varying the amount of one or more of the products), schedule to erect the plant, and ease of operation. Recently, air separation processes have begun to be more highly integrated with other industrial equipment and processes. An example is the integration of an air separation process in a facility that gasifies hydrocarbon feedstocks for use as fuel gas in a gas turbine based, combined power cycle for the production of electricity. In this type of facility pressurized air from the gas turbine can be sent to the air separation unit to supply all or a portion of the total air feed requirement. Sources of pressurized air for standalone or integrated air separation processes include, but are not limited to: dedicated air compression devices, the air compressor section of gas turbines, stored high pressure air sources (e.g. Compressed Air Energy Storage processes), and other equipment or processes requiring pressurized air. Pressurized air can also be produced as a byproduct of the recovery of work, available from the expansion of a fluid in a process. An example would be the expansion of a high pressure synthesis gas or pressurized natural gas to the pressure required for gas turbine combustion, with the work of expansion recovered in a device that compressed ambient air.

Feed Air Expansion To An Air Separation Process

         Depending on the number of products, their respective purities and phases (liquid or gas), and the type of air separation process selected for a given project, one or more pressure levels of feed air may be required. An example is a cryogenic air separation process producing pressurized gaseous oxygen and employing a liquid oxygen pump...