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Inert Gas Generation and Oxygen-enriched Air for Partial Oxidation Processes

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000019377D
Publication Date: 2003-Sep-12
Document File: 4 page(s) / 91K

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Abstract

Partial oxidation of gaseous, liquid and solid hydrocarbon materials is an increasingly important chemical route to the production of clean burning fuel gases and synthesis gases (syngas). Syngas is the precursor to the production of chemical products such as acetic acid, methanol, waxes, synthetic oil derivatives and a host of related higher value end products. The oxidant for the partial oxidation step is usually a purified oxygen stream supplied from an air separation unit (ASU). Oxygen purity typically ranges from 95 to 99.5+ percent by volume. In an effort to reduce capital cost some process developers have proposed substituting air for oxygen in the partial oxidation process. The purpose of this paper is to explore some opportunities for the production of the nitrogen that is always required for inerting and purging, and for the simultaneous production of oxygen for enrichment purposes in the "air blown" partial oxidation processes.

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Inert Gas Generation and Oxygen-enriched Air

for Partial Oxidation Processes

Partial oxidation of gaseous, liquid and solid hydrocarbon materials is an increasingly important chemical route to the production of clean burning fuel gases and synthesis gases (syngas). Syngas is the precursor to the production of chemical products such as acetic acid, methanol, waxes, synthetic oil derivatives and a host of related higher value end products. The oxidant for the partial oxidation step is usually a purified oxygen stream supplied from an air separation unit (ASU). Oxygen purity typically ranges from 95 to 99.5+ percent by volume. In an effort to reduce capital cost some process developers have proposed substituting air for oxygen in the partial oxidation process. The purpose of this paper is to explore some opportunities for the production of the nitrogen that is always required for inerting and purging, and for the simultaneous production of oxygen for enrichment purposes in the "air blown" partial oxidation processes.

Partial Oxidation

Partial oxidation is the controlled "burning" of hydrocarbon materials at temperatures and pressures above atmospheric pressure to produce a stream that contains carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and other constituents. The process can be catalytic or non-catalytic with carbon monoxide, hydrogen and occasionally carbon dioxide the products of interest for downstream processing. The oxidant stream must be pressurized and heated as part of the oxidation process. In most chemical synthesis applications, nitrogen and argon must be rejected from the synthesis gas or in downstream processes, and some fraction of the hydrocarbon feed may be rejected as a low quality fuel gas. Heat from the partial oxidation and other chemical reactions are usually moderated by the production of steam. In order to improve the energy efficiency of these processes, developers often assume the steam and fuel gas byproduct streams are convertible to electric power through gas turbine combined cycle systems.

Inert Gas Generation

High purity nitrogen (99+ percent by volume) is often used in hydrocarbon processing facilities for purging and inerting or in the case of solid fuels, drying and transportation of the fuel. A source of nitrogen is often valuable during construction and commissioning for use in blowing debris from lines and equipment and for pressure testing prior to operation. Nitrogen can be produced by adsorption, cryogenic separation or membrane-based processes. Regardless of the process, a source of pressurized air is required and the product nitrogen may require compression. The integration of the air supply for the inert gas generator with the partial oxidation process or the power generation process can eliminate the need for a separate air compressor.

If an independent air compressor is used to supply oxidant to the partial oxidation step, it may be convenient to supply the nitrogen generator with air from this compress...