An Integrated Heat Pump Cycle for Enhanced Argon Recovery
Publication Date: 2003-Sep-12
The IP.com Prior Art Database
The argon recovery step in an air separation process may be enhanced by employing a heat pump that adds heat at the bottom of the low pressure column and withdraws heat from the argon condenser at the top of the argon sidearm column. Increased argon recovery may be desirable in cases where the air separation unit (ASU) feed is enriched in argon, or in any situation where the value of argon-rich products is high. Typical heat pump configurations would employ an additional stand-alone compressor and possibly a separate heat exchanger for this purpose. This configuration adds substantial capital cost to a standard ASU and negatively impacts the economics of increasing argon recovery. The process described here allows reduction in the capital costs associated with a heat pump by integrating the heat pump with the main air compressor (MAC) and main heat exchanger, and by using the ASU feed stream as the heat pump fluid.