Canadian Patents Database / Patent 2763698 Summary

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(12) Patent: (11) CA 2763698
(54) English Title: HYDROCARBON GAS PROCESSING
(54) French Title: TRAITEMENT DE GAZ D'HYDROCARBURES
(51) International Patent Classification (IPC):
  • C10L 3/06 (2006.01)
(72) Inventors :
  • JOHNKE, ANDREW F. (United States of America)
  • LEWIS, W. LARRY (United States of America)
  • WILKINSON, JOHN D. (United States of America)
  • LYNCH, JOE T. (United States of America)
  • HUDSON, HANK M. (United States of America)
  • CUELLAR, KYLE T. (United States of America)
(73) Owners :
  • S.M.E. PRODUCTS LP (Not Available)
(71) Applicants :
  • S.M.E. PRODUCTS LP (United States of America)
(74) Agent: GOWLING WLG (CANADA) LLP
(74) Associate agent:
(45) Issued: 2016-08-16
(86) PCT Filing Date: 2010-03-04
(87) Open to Public Inspection: 2010-12-16
Examination requested: 2015-02-13
(30) Availability of licence: N/A
(30) Language of filing: English

(30) Application Priority Data:
Application No. Country/Territory Date
61/186,361 United States of America 2009-06-11
12/689,616 United States of America 2010-01-19

English Abstract




The present invention provides improved recovery of C2 components, C3
components, and heavier hydrocarbon
components or of C3 components and heavier hydrocarbon components per amount
of utility consumption required to operate the
process An improvement in utility consumption required for operating the
process may appear in the form of reduced power
requirements for compression or re-compression, reduced power requirements for
external refrigeration, reduced energy
requirements for supplemental heating, or a combination thereof.




French Abstract

L'invention concerne la récupération améliorée de composants C2, de composants C3 et de composants hydrocarbonés plus lourds par quantité de consommation d'utilitaires nécessaire pour exploiter le procédé. L'amélioration de la consommation d'utilitaires nécessaire pour mettre en oeuvre le procédé peut consister en des besoins réduits en énergie électrique pour la compression ou la recompression, des besoins réduits en énergie électrique pour la réfrigération externe, des besoins réduits en énergie électrique pour un chauffage supplémentaire ou une combinaison de ceux-ci.


Note: Claims are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A process for the separation of a gas stream containing
methane, C2
components, C3 components, and heavier hydrocarbon components into a volatile
residue gas
fraction and a relatively less volatile fraction containing a major portion of
said C2 components,
C3 components, and heavier hydrocarbon components or said C3 components and
heavier
hydrocarbon components wherein
(1) said gas stream is divided into first and second portions;
(2) said first portion is cooled;
(3) said second portion is cooled;
(4) said cooled first portion is combined with said cooled second
portion to form a cooled gas stream;
(5) said cooled gas stream is divided into first and second streams;
(6) said first stream is cooled to condense substantially all of it and is
thereafter expanded to lower pressure whereby it is further cooled;
(7) said expanded cooled first stream is supplied as a feed between
first and second absorbing means housed in a single equipment item processing
assembly, said
first absorbing means being located above said second absorbing means;
(8) said second stream is expanded to said lower pressure and is
supplied as a bottom feed to said second absorbing means;
(9) a distillation vapor stream is collected from an upper region of said
first absorbing means and heated, thereafter discharging said heated
distillation vapor stream
from said processing assembly;
- 27 -

(10) said heated distillation vapor stream is compressed to higher
pressure and thereafter divided into said volatile residue gas fraction and a
compressed recycle
stream;
(11) said compressed recycle stream is cooled to condense substantially
all of it;
(12) said substantially condensed compressed recycle stream is
expanded to said lower pressure and supplied as a top feed to said first
absorbing means;
(13) said heating of said distillation vapor stream is accomplished in
one or more heat exchange means housed in said processing assembly, thereby to
supply at least
a portion of the cooling of steps (2), (6), and (11);
(14) a distillation liquid stream is collected from a lower region of said
second absorbing means and heated in a heat and mass transfer means housed in
said processing
assembly, thereby to supply at least a portion of the cooling of step (3)
while simultaneously
stripping the more volatile components from said distillation liquid stream,
and thereafter
discharging said heated and stripped distillation liquid stream from said
processing assembly as
said relatively less volatile fraction; and
(15) the quantities and temperatures of said feed streams to said first
and second absorbing means are effective to maintain the temperature of said
upper region of
said first absorbing means at a temperature whereby the major portions of the
components in said
relatively less volatile fraction are recovered.
2. The process according to claim 1 wherein
(a) said cooled first portion is combined with said cooled
second
portion to form a partially condensed gas stream;
- 28 -

(b) said partially condensed gas stream is supplied to a separating
means and is separated therein to provide a vapor stream and at least one
liquid stream;
(c) said vapor stream is divided into said first and second streams; and
(d) at least a portion of said at least one liquid stream is expanded to
said lower pressure and is supplied as an additional bottom feed to said
second absorbing means.
3. The process according to claim 2 wherein
(a) said first stream is combined with at least a portion of said at least
one liquid stream to form a combined stream;
(b) said combined stream is cooled to condense substantially all of it
and is thereafter expanded to lower pressure whereby it is further cooled;
(c) said expanded cooled combined stream is supplied as said feed
between said first and second absorbing means housed in a processing assembly;
and
(d) any remaining portion of said at least one liquid stream is
expanded to said lower pressure and is supplied as said additional bottom feed
to said second
absorbing means.
4. The process according to claim 1 wherein
(a) said first portion is cooled and is thereafter expanded to lower
pressure;
(b) said second portion is cooled to condense substantially all of it and
is thereafter expanded to said lower pressure whereby it is further cooled;
(c) said expanded cooled second portion is supplied as said feed
between said first and second absorbing means; and
- 29 -

(d) said expanded cooled first portion is supplied as said
bottom feed
to said second absorbing means.
5. The process according to claim 4 wherein
(a) said first portion is cooled sufficiently to partially condense it;
(b) said partially condensed first portion is supplied to a separating
means and is separated therein to provide a vapor stream and at least one
liquid stream;
(c) said vapor stream is expanded to said lower pressure and is
supplied as said first bottom feed to said second absorbing means; and
(d) at least a portion of said at least one liquid stream is expanded to
said lower pressure and is supplied as an additional bottom feed to said
second absorbing means.
6. The process according to claim 5 wherein
(a) said second portion is cooled and is thereafter combined with at
least a portion of said at least one liquid stream to form a combined stream;
(b) said combined stream is cooled to condense substantially all of it
and is thereafter expanded to lower pressure whereby it is further cooled;
(c) said expanded cooled combined stream is supplied as said feed
between said first and second absorbing means ; and
(d) any remaining portion of said at least one liquid stream is
expanded to said lower pressure and is supplied as said additional bottom feed
to said second
absorbing means.
7. The process according to claim 2 wherein
- 30 -

(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper and lower
regions; and
(2) said expanded at least a portion of said at least one liquid stream is
supplied to said processing assembly to enter between said upper and lower
regions of said heat
and mass transfer means.
8. The process according to claim 3 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper and lower
regions; and
(2) said expanded any remaining portion of said at least one liquid
stream is supplied to said processing assembly to enter between said upper and
lower regions of
said heat and mass transfer means.
9. The process according to claim 5 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper and lower
regions; and
(2) said expanded at least a portion of said at least one liquid stream is
supplied to said processing assembly to enter between said upper and lower
regions of said heat
and mass transfer means.
10. The process according to claim 6 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper
and lower
regions; and
- 31 -

(2) said expanded any remaining portion of said at least
one liquid
stream is supplied to said processing assembly to enter between said upper and
lower regions of
said heat and mass transfer means.
11. The process according to claim 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 wherein said
separating means is housed in said processing assembly.
12. The process according to claim 1 wherein
(1) a gas collecting means is housed in said processing assembly;
(2) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
gas collecting means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including
one or more passes
for an external refrigeration medium;
(3) said cooled gas stream is supplied to said gas collecting means and
directed to said additional heat and mass transfer means to be further cooled
by said external
refrigeration medium; and
(4) said further cooled gas stream is divided into said first and second
streams.
13. The process according to claim 4 wherein
(1) a gas collecting means is housed in said processing assembly;
(2) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
gas collecting means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including
one or more passes
for an external refrigeration medium;
- 32 -

(3) said cooled first portion is supplied to said gas collecting means
and directed to said additional heat and mass transfer means to be further
cooled by said external
refrigeration medium; and
(4) said further cooled first portion is expanded to said lower pressure
and is thereafter supplied as said bottom feed to said second absorbing means.
14. The process according to claim 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 wherein
(1) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
separating means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including one
or more passes for
an external refrigeration medium;
(2) said vapor stream is directed to said additional heat and mass
transfer means to be cooled by said external refrigeration medium to form
additional condensate;
and
(3) said condensate becomes a part of said at least one liquid stream
separated therein.
15. The process according to claim 11 wherein
(1) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
separating means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including one
or more passes for
an external refrigeration medium;
(2) said vapor stream is directed to said additional heat and mass
transfer means to be cooled by said external refrigeration medium to form
additional condensate;
and
(3) said condensate becomes a part of said at least one liquid stream
separated therein.
- 33 -

16. The process according to claim 1 or 12 wherein said heat and mass
transfer means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to
supplement the
heating supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more
volatile components from
said distillation liquid stream.
17. The process according to claim 11 wherein said heat and mass transfer
means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to supplement
the heating
supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more volatile
components from said
distillation liquid stream.
18. The process according to claim 14 wherein said heat and mass transfer
means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to supplement
the heating
supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more volatile
components from said
distillation liquid stream.
19. The process according to claim 15 wherein said heat and mass transfer
means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to supplement
the heating
supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more volatile
components from said
distillation liquid stream.
20. An apparatus for the separation of a gas stream containing methane, C2
components, C3 components, and heavier hydrocarbon components into a volatile
residue gas
fraction and a relatively less volatile fraction containing a major portion of
said C2 components,
C3 components, and heavier hydrocarbon components or said C3 components and
heavier
hydrocarbon components comprising
- 34 -

(1) first dividing means to divide said gas stream into first and second
portions;
(2) heat exchange means housed in a single equipment item processing
assembly and connected to said first dividing means to receive said first
portion and cool it;
(3) heat and mass transfer means housed in said processing assembly
and connected to said first dividing means to receive said second portion and
cool it;
(4) combining means connected to said heat exchange means and said
heat and mass transfer means to receive said cooled first portion and said
cooled second portion
and form a cooled gas stream;
(5) second dividing means connected to said combining means to
receive said cooled gas stream and divide it into first and second streams;
(6) said heat exchange means being further connected to said second
dividing means to receive said first stream and cool it sufficiently to
substantially condense it;
(7) first expansion means connected to said heat exchange means to
receive said substantially condensed first stream and expand it to lower
pressure;
(8) first and second absorbing means housed in said processing
assembly and connected to said first expansion means to receive said expanded
cooled first
stream as a feed thereto between said first and second absorbing means, said
first absorbing
means being located above said second absorbing means;
(9) second expansion means connected to said second dividing means
to receive said second stream and expand it to said lower pressure, said
second expansion means
being further connected to said second absorbing means to supply said expanded
second stream
as a bottom feed thereto;
- 35 -

(10) vapor collecting means housed in said processing assembly and
connected to said first absorbing means to receive a distillation vapor stream
from an upper
region of said first absorbing means;
(11) said heat exchange means being further connected to said vapor
collecting means to receive said distillation vapor stream and heat it,
thereby to supply at least a
portion of the cooling of steps (2) and (6), and thereafter discharging said
heated distillation
vapor stream from said processing assembly;
(12) compressing means connected to said processing assembly to
receive said heated distillation vapor stream and compress it to higher
pressure;
(13) cooling means connected to said compressing means to receive
said compressed distillation vapor stream and cool it;
(14) third dividing means connected to said cooling means to receive
said cooled compressed distillation vapor stream and divide it into said
volatile residue gas
fraction and a compressed recycle stream;
(15) said heat exchange means being further connected to said third
dividing means to receive said compressed recycle stream and cool it
sufficiently to substantially
condense it, thereby to supply at least a portion of the heating of step (11);
(16) third expansion means connected to said heat exchange means to
receive said substantially condensed compressed recycle stream and expand it
to said lower
pressure, said third expansion means being further connected to said first
absorbing means to
supply said expanded recycle stream as a top feed thereto;
- 36 -

(17) liquid collecting means housed in said processing assembly and
connected to said second absorbing means to receive a distillation liquid
stream from a lower
region of said second absorbing means;
(18) said heat and mass transfer means being further connected to said
liquid collecting means to receive said distillation liquid stream and heat
it, thereby to supply at
least a portion of the cooling of step (3) while simultaneously stripping the
more volatile
components from said distillation liquid stream, and thereafter discharging
said heated and
stripped distillation liquid stream from said processing assembly as said
relatively less volatile
fraction; and
(19) control means adapted to regulate the quantities and temperatures
of said feed streams to said first and second absorbing means to maintain the
temperature of said
upper region of said first absorbing means at a temperature whereby the major
portions of the
components in said relatively less volatile fraction are recovered.
21. The apparatus according to claim 20 wherein
(a) said combining means is connected to said heat exchange means
and said heat and mass transfer means to receive said cooled first portion and
said cooled second
portion and form a partially condensed gas stream;
(b) a separating means is connected to said combining means to
receive said partially condensed gas stream and separate it into a vapor
stream and at least one
liquid stream;
(c) said second dividing means is connected to said separating means
to receive said vapor stream and divide it into said first and second streams;
and
- 37 -

(d) a fourth expansion means is connected to said
separating means to
receive at least a portion of said at least one liquid stream and expand it to
said lower pressure,
said fourth expansion means being further connected to said second absorbing
means to supply
said expanded liquid stream as an additional bottom feed thereto.
22. The apparatus according to claim 21 wherein
(a) an additional combining means is connected to said second
dividing means and said separating means to receive said first stream and at
least a portion of
said at least one liquid stream and form a combined stream;
(b) said heat exchange means is further connected to said additional
combining means to receive said combined stream and cool it sufficiently to
substantially
condense it;
(c) said first expansion means is connected to said heat exchange
means to receive said substantially condensed combined stream and expand it to
lower pressure;
(d) said first and second absorbing means is connected to said first
expansion means to receive said expanded cooled combined stream as said feed
thereto between
said first and second absorbing means; and
(e) said fourth expansion means is connected to said separating means
to receive any remaining portion of said at least one liquid stream and expand
it to said lower
pressure, said fourth expansion means being further connected to said second
absorbing means to
supply said expanded liquid stream as said additional bottom feed thereto.
23. The apparatus according to claim 20 wherein
- 38 -

(a) said heat exchange means is further connected to said heat and
mass transfer means to receive said cooled second portion and further cool it
sufficiently to
substantially condense it;
(b) said first expansion means is connected to said heat exchange
means to receive said substantially condensed second portion and expand it to
lower pressure;
(c) said first and second absorbing means is connected to said first
expansion means to receive said expanded cooled second portion as said feed
thereto between
said first and second absorbing means; and
(d) said second expansion means is connected to said heat exchange
means to receive said cooled first portion and expand it to said lower
pressure, said second
expansion means being further connected to said second absorbing means to
supply said
expanded cooled first portion as said bottom feed thereto.
24. The apparatus according to claim 23 wherein
(a) said heat exchange means is connected to said first dividing means
to receive said first portion and cool it sufficiently to partially condense
it;
(b) a separating means is connected to said heat exchange means to
receive said partially condensed first portion and to separate it into a vapor
stream and at least
one liquid stream;
(c) said second expansion means is connected to said separating
means to receive said vapor stream and expand it to said lower pressure, said
second expansion
means being further connected to said second absorbing means to supply said
expanded vapor
stream as said first bottom feed thereto; and
- 39 -

(d) a fourth expansion means is connected to said
separating means to
receive at least a portion of said at least one liquid stream and expand it to
said lower pressure,
said fourth expansion means being further connected to said second absorbing
means to supply
said expanded liquid stream as an additional bottom feed thereto.
25. The apparatus according to claim 24 wherein
(a) an additional combining means is connected to said heat and mass
transfer means and said separating means to receive said cooled second portion
and at least a
portion of said at least one liquid stream and form a combined stream;
(b) said heat exchange means is further connected to said additional
combining means to receive said combined stream and cool it sufficiently to
substantially
condense it;
(c) said first expansion means is connected to said heat exchange
means to receive said substantially condensed combined stream and expand it to
lower pressure;
(d) said first and second absorbing means is connected to said first
expansion means to receive said expanded cooled combined stream as said feed
thereto between
said first and second absorbing means; and
(e) said fourth expansion means is connected to said separating means
to receive any remaining portion of said at least one liquid stream and expand
it to said lower
pressure, said fourth expansion means being further connected to said second
absorbing means to
supply said expanded liquid stream as said additional bottom feed thereto.
26. The apparatus according to claim 21 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper
and lower
regions; and
- 40 -

(2) said processing assembly is connected to said fourth
expansion
means to receive said expanded liquid stream and direct it between said upper
and lower regions
of said heat and mass transfer means.
27. The apparatus according to claim 22 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper and lower
regions; and
(2) said processing assembly is connected to said fourth expansion
means to receive said expanded liquid stream and direct it between said upper
and lower regions
of said heat and mass transfer means.
28. The apparatus according to claim 24 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper and lower
regions; and
(2) said processing assembly is connected to said fourth expansion
means to receive said expanded liquid stream and direct it between said upper
and lower regions
of said heat and mass transfer means.
29. The apparatus according to claim 25 wherein
(1) said heat and mass transfer means is arranged in upper and lower
regions; and
(2) said processing assembly is connected to said fourth expansion
means to receive said expanded liquid stream and direct it between said upper
and lower regions
of said heat and mass transfer means.
- 41 -

30. The apparatus according to claim 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, or 29
wherein
said separating means is housed in said processing assembly.
31. The apparatus according to claim 20 wherein
(1) a gas collecting means is housed in said processing assembly;
(2) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
gas collecting means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including
one or more passes
for an external refrigeration medium;
(3) said gas collecting means is connected to said combining means to
receive said cooled gas stream and direct it to said additional heat and mass
transfer means to be
further cooled by said external refrigeration medium; and
(4) said second dividing means is adapted to be connected to said gas
collecting means to receive said further cooled gas stream and divide it into
said first and second
streams.
32. The apparatus according to claim 23 wherein
(1) a gas collecting means is housed in said processing assembly;
(2) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
gas collecting means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including
one or more passes
for an external refrigeration medium;
(3) said gas collecting means is connected to said heat exchange
means to receive said cooled first portion and direct it to said additional
heat and mass transfer
means to be further cooled by said external refrigeration medium; and
(4) said second expansion means is adapted to be connected to said
gas collecting means to receive said further cooled first portion and expand
it to said lower
- 42 -

pressure, said second expansion means being further connected to said second
absorbing means
to supply said expanded further cooled first portion as said bottom feed
thereto.
33. The apparatus according to claim 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, or 29
wherein
(1) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
separating means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including one
or more passes for
an external refrigeration medium;
(2) said vapor stream is directed to said additional heat and mass
transfer means to be cooled by said external refrigeration medium to form
additional condensate;
and
(3) said condensate becomes a part of said at least one liquid stream
separated therein.
34. The apparatus according to claim 30 wherein
(1) an additional heat and mass transfer means is included inside said
separating means, said additional heat and mass transfer means including one
or more passes for
an external refrigeration medium;
(2) said vapor stream is directed to said additional heat and mass
transfer means to be cooled by said external refrigeration medium to form
additional condensate;
and
(3) said condensate becomes a part of said at least one liquid stream
separated therein.
35. The apparatus according to claim 20 or 31 wherein said heat and mass
transfer means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to
supplement the
- 43 -

heating supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more
volatile components from
said distillation liquid stream.
36. The apparatus according to claim 30 wherein said heat and mass transfer

means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to supplement
the heating
supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more volatile
components from said
distillation liquid stream.
37. The apparatus according to claim 33 wherein said heat and mass transfer

means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to supplement
the heating
supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more volatile
components from said
distillation liquid stream.
38. The apparatus according to claim 34 wherein said heat and mass transfer

means includes one or more passes for an external heating medium to supplement
the heating
supplied by said second portion for said stripping of said more volatile
components from said
distillation liquid stream.
- 44 -

Note: Descriptions are shown in the official language in which they were submitted.

CA 02763698 2011-11-28
WO 2010/144163
PCT/US2010/026185
HYDROCARBON GAS PROCESSING
SPECIFICATION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0001] This invention relates to a process and apparatus for the separation
of a gas
containing hydrocarbons. The applicants claim the benefits under Title 35,
United States
Code, Section 119(e) of prior U.S. Provisional Application Number 61/186,361
which was
filed on June 11, 2009. The applicants also claim the benefits under Title 35,
United States
Code, Section 120 as a continuation-in-part of U.S. Patent Application No.
12/689,616 which
was filed on January 19, 2010. Assignees S.M.E. Products LP and Ortloff
Engineers, Ltd.
were parties to a joint research agreement that was in effect before the
invention of this
application was made.
-1-

CA 02763698 2011-11-28
WO 2010/144163
PCT/US2010/026185
[0002] Ethylene, ethane, propylene, propane, and/or heavier hydrocarbons
can be
recovered from a variety of gases, such as natural gas, refinery gas, and
synthetic gas streams
obtained from other hydrocarbon materials such as coal, crude oil, naphtha,
oil shale, tar
sands, and lignite. Natural gas usually has a major proportion of methane and
ethane, i.e.,
methane and ethane together comprise at least 50 mole percent of the gas. The
gas also
contains relatively lesser amounts of heavier hydrocarbons such as propane,
butanes,
pentanes, and the like, as well as hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and
other gases.
[0003] The present invention is generally concerned with the recovery of
ethylene,
ethane, propylene, propane, and heavier hydrocarbons from such gas streams. A
typical
analysis of a gas stream to be processed in accordance with this invention
would be, in
approximate mole percent, 90.3% methane, 4.0% ethane and other C2 components,
1.7%
propane and other C3 components, 0.3% iso-butane, 0.5% normal butane, and 0.8%
pentanes
plus, with the balance made up of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Sulfur
containing gases are
also sometimes present.
[0004] The historically cyclic fluctuations in the prices of both natural
gas and its
natural gas liquid (NGL) constituents have at times reduced the incremental
value of ethane,
ethylene, propane, propylene, and heavier components as liquid products. This
has resulted
in a demand for processes that can provide more efficient recoveries of these
products and for
processes that can provide efficient recoveries with lower capital investment.
Available
processes for separating these materials include those based upon cooling and
refrigeration of
gas, oil absorption, and refrigerated oil absorption. Additionally, cryogenic
processes have
become popular because of the availability of economical equipment that
produces power
while simultaneously expanding and extracting heat from the gas being
processed.
Depending upon the pressure of the gas source, the richness (ethane, ethylene,
and heavier
-2-

CA 02763698 2011-11-28
WO 2010/144163
PCT/US2010/026185
hydrocarbons content) of the gas, and the desired end products, each of these
processes or a
combination thereof may be employed.
[0005] The cryogenic expansion process is now generally preferred for
natural gas
liquids recovery because it provides maximum simplicity with ease of startup,
operating
flexibility, good efficiency, safety, and good reliability. U.S. Patent Nos.
3,292,380;
4,061,481; 4,140,504; 4,157,904; 4,171,964; 4,185,978; 4,251,249; 4,278,457;
4,519,824;
4,617,039; 4,687,499; 4,689,063; 4,690,702; 4,854,955; 4,869,740; 4,889,545;
5,275,005;
5,555,748; 5,566,554; 5,568,737; 5,771,712; 5,799,507; 5,881,569; 5,890,378;
5,983,664;
6,182,469; 6,578,379; 6,712,880; 6,915,662; 7,191,617; 7,219,513; reissue U.S.
Patent No.
33,408; and co-pending application nos. 11/430,412; 11/839,693; 11/971,491;
and
12/206,230 describe relevant processes (although the description of the
present invention in
some cases is based on different processing conditions than those described in
the cited U.S.
Patents).
[0006] In a typical cryogenic expansion recovery process, a feed gas stream
under
pressure is cooled by heat exchange with other streams of the process and/or
external sources
of refrigeration such as a propane compression-refrigeration system. As the
gas is cooled,
liquids may be condensed and collected in one or more separators as high-
pressure liquids
containing some of the desired C2+ components. Depending on the richness of
the gas and
the amount of liquids formed, the high-pressure liquids may be expanded to a
lower pressure
and fractionated. The vaporization occurring during expansion of the liquids
results in
further cooling of the stream. Under some conditions, pre-cooling the high
pressure liquids
prior to the expansion may be desirable in order to further lower the
temperature resulting
from the expansion. The expanded stream, comprising a mixture of liquid and
vapor, is
fractionated in a distillation (demethanizer or deethanizer) column. In the
column, the
expansion cooled stream(s) is (are) distilled to separate residual methane,
nitrogen, and other
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volatile gases as overhead vapor from the desired C2 components, C3
components, and
heavier hydrocarbon components as bottom liquid product, or to separate
residual methane,
C2 components, nitrogen, and other volatile gases as overhead vapor from the
desired C3
components and heavier hydrocarbon components as bottom liquid product.
[0007] If the feed gas is not totally condensed (typically it is not), the
vapor
remaining from the partial condensation can be split into two streams. One
portion of the
vapor is passed through a work expansion machine or engine, or an expansion
valve, to a
lower pressure at which additional liquids are condensed as a result of
further cooling of the
stream. The pressure after expansion is essentially the same as the pressure
at which the
distillation column is operated. The combined vapor-liquid phases resulting
from the
expansion are supplied as feed to the column.
[0008] The remaining portion of the vapor is cooled to substantial
condensation by
heat exchange with other process streams, e.g., the cold fractionation tower
overhead. Some
or all of the high-pressure liquid may be combined with this vapor portion
prior to cooling.
The resulting cooled stream is then expanded through an appropriate expansion
device, such
as an expansion valve, to the pressure at which the demethanizer is operated.
During
expansion, a portion of the liquid will vaporize, resulting in cooling of the
total stream. The
flash expanded stream is then supplied as top feed to the demethanizer.
Typically, the vapor
portion of the flash expanded stream and the demethanizer overhead vapor
combine in an
upper separator section in the fractionation tower as residual methane product
gas.
Alternatively, the cooled and expanded stream may be supplied to a separator
to provide
vapor and liquid streams. The vapor is combined with the tower overhead and
the liquid is
supplied to the column as a top column feed.
[0009] In the ideal operation of such a separation process, the residue gas
leaving the
process will contain substantially all of the methane in the feed gas with
essentially none of
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the heavier hydrocarbon components and the bottoms fraction leaving the
demethanizer will
contain substantially all of the heavier hydrocarbon components with
essentially no methane
or more volatile components. In practice, however, this ideal situation is not
obtained
because the conventional demethanizer is operated largely as a stripping
column. The
methane product of the process, therefore, typically comprises vapors leaving
the top
fractionation stage of the column, together with vapors not subjected to any
rectification step.
Considerable losses of C2, C3, and C4+ components occur because the top liquid
feed contains
substantial quantities of these components and heavier hydrocarbon components,
resulting in
corresponding equilibrium quantities of C2 components, C3 components, C4
components, and
heavier hydrocarbon components in the vapors leaving the top fractionation
stage of the
demethanizer. The loss of these desirable components could be significantly
reduced if the
rising vapors could be brought into contact with a significant quantity of
liquid (reflux)
capable of absorbing the C2 components, C3 components, C4 components, and
heavier
hydrocarbon components from the vapors.
[0010] In recent years, the preferred processes for hydrocarbon separation
use an
upper absorber section to provide additional rectification of the rising
vapors. The source of
the reflux stream for the upper rectification section is typically a recycled
stream of residue
gas supplied under pressure. The recycled residue gas stream is usually cooled
to substantial
condensation by heat exchange with other process streams, e.g., the cold
fractionation tower
overhead. The resulting substantially condensed stream is then expanded
through an
appropriate expansion device, such as an expansion valve, to the pressure at
which the
demethanizer is operated. During expansion, a portion of the liquid will
usually vaporize,
resulting in cooling of the total stream. The flash expanded stream is then
supplied as top
feed to the demethanizer. Typically, the vapor portion of the expanded stream
and the
demethanizer overhead vapor combine in an upper separator section in the
fractionation
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tower as residual methane product gas. Alternatively, the cooled and expanded
stream may
be supplied to a separator to provide vapor and liquid streams, so that
thereafter the vapor is
combined with the tower overhead and the liquid is supplied to the column as a
top column
feed. Typical process schemes of this type are disclosed in U.S. Patent Nos.
4,889,545;
5,568,737; and 5,881,569, co-pending application nos. 11/430,412 and
11/971,491, and in
Mowrey, E. Ross, "Efficient, High Recovery of Liquids from Natural Gas
Utilizing a High
Pressure Absorber", Proceedings of the Eighty-First Annual Convention of the
Gas
Processors Association, Dallas, Texas, March 11-13, 2002.
[0011] The present invention employs a novel means of performing the
various steps
described above more efficiently and using fewer pieces of equipment. This is
accomplished
by combining what heretofore have been individual equipment items into a
common housing,
thereby reducing the plot space required for the processing plant and reducing
the capital cost
of the facility. Surprisingly, applicants have found that the more compact
arrangement also
significantly reduces the power consumption required to achieve a given
recovery level,
thereby increasing the process efficiency and reducing the operating cost of
the facility. In
addition, the more compact arrangement also eliminates much of the piping used
to
interconnect the individual equipment items in traditional plant designs,
further reducing
capital cost and also eliminating the associated flanged piping connections.
Since piping
flanges are a potential leak source for hydrocarbons (which are volatile
organic compounds,
VOCs, that contribute to greenhouse gases and may also be precursors to
atmospheric ozone
formation), eliminating these flanges reduces the potential for atmospheric
emissions that can
damage the environment.
[0012] In accordance with the present invention, it has been found that C2
recoveries
in excess of 95% can be obtained. Similarly, in those instances where recovery
of C2
components is not desired, C3 recoveries in excess of 95% can be maintained.
In addition,
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the present invention makes possible essentially 100% separation of methane
(or C2
components) and lighter components from the C2 components (or C3 components)
and
heavier components at lower energy requirements compared to the prior art
while
maintaining the same recovery level. The present invention, although
applicable at lower
pressures and warmer temperatures, is particularly advantageous when
processing feed gases
in the range of 400 to 1500 psia 112,758 to 10,342 kPa(a)] or higher under
conditions requiring
NGL recovery column overhead temperatures of -50 F [-46 C] or colder.
[0013] For a better understanding of the present invention, reference is
made to the
following examples and drawings. Referring to the drawings:
[0014] FIG. 1 is a flow diagram of a prior art natural gas processing plant
in
accordance with United States Patent No. 5,568,737;
[0015] FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a natural gas processing plant in
accordance with
the present invention; and
[0016] FIGS. 3 through 9 are flow diagrams illustrating alternative means
of
application of the present invention to a natural gas stream.
[0017] In the following explanation of the above figures, tables are
provided
summarizing flow rates calculated for representative process conditions. In
the tables
appearing herein, the values for flow rates (in moles per hour) have been
rounded to the
nearest whole number for convenience. The total stream rates shown in the
tables include all
non-hydrocarbon components and hence are generally larger than the sum of the
stream flow
rates for the hydrocarbon components. Temperatures indicated are approximate
values
rounded to the nearest degree. It should also be noted that the process design
calculations
performed for the purpose of comparing the processes depicted in the figures
are based on the
assumption of no heat leak from (or to) the surroundings to (or from) the
process. The quality
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of commercially available insulating materials makes this a very reasonable
assumption and
one that is typically made by those skilled in the art.
[0018] For convenience, process parameters are reported in both the
traditional
British units and in the units of the Systeme International d'Unites (SI). The
molar flow rates
given in the tables may be interpreted as either pound moles per hour or
kilogram moles per
hour. The energy consumptions reported as horsepower (HP) and/or thousand
British
Thermal Units per hour (MBTU/Hr) correspond to the stated molar flow rates in
pound moles
per hour. The energy consumptions reported as kilowatts (kW) correspond to the
stated
molar flow rates in kilogram moles per hour.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART
[0019] FIG. 1 is a process flow diagram showing the design of a processing
plant to
recover C2+ components from natural gas using prior art according to U.S. Pat.
No.
5,568,737. In this simulation of the process, inlet gas enters the plant at
110 F [43 C] and
915 psia 116,307 kPa(a)1 as stream 31. If the inlet gas contains a
concentration of sulfur
compounds which would prevent the product streams from meeting specifications,
the sulfur
compounds are removed by appropriate pretreatment of the feed gas (not
illustrated). In
addition, the feed stream is usually dehydrated to prevent hydrate (ice)
formation under
cryogenic conditions. Solid desiccant has typically been used for this
purpose.
[0020] The feed stream 31 is divided into two portions, streams 32 and 33.
Stream 32
is cooled to -26 F [-32 C1 in heat exchanger 10 by heat exchange with cool
distillation vapor
stream 41a, while stream 33 is cooled to -32 F [-35 C1 in heat exchanger 11 by
heat
exchange with demethanizer reboiler liquids at 41 F [5 C1 (stream 43) and side
reboiler
liquids at -49 F [-45 C1 (stream 42). Streams 32a and 33a recombine to form
stream 31a,
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which enters separator 12 at -28 F [-33 C1 and 893 psia 116,155 kPa(a)1 where
the vapor
(stream 34) is separated from the condensed liquid (stream 35).
[0021] The vapor (stream 34) from separator 12 is divided into two streams,
36 and
39. Stream 36, containing about 27% of the total vapor, is combined with the
separator liquid
(stream 35), and the combined stream 38 passes through heat exchanger 13 in
heat exchange
relation with cold distillation vapor stream 41 where it is cooled to
substantial condensation.
The resulting substantially condensed stream 38a at -139 F [-95 C1 is then
flash expanded
through expansion valve 14 to the operating pressure (approximately 396 psia
112,730 kPa(a)1)
of fractionation tower 18. During expansion a portion of the stream is
vaporized, resulting in
cooling of the total stream. In the process illustrated in FIG. 1, the
expanded stream 38b
leaving expansion valve 14 reaches a temperature of -140 F [-95 C1 and is
supplied to
fractionation tower 18 at a first mid-column feed point.
[0022] The remaining 73% of the vapor from separator 12 (stream 39) enters
a work
expansion machine 15 in which mechanical energy is extracted from this portion
of the high
pressure feed. The machine 15 expands the vapor substantially isentropically
to the tower
operating pressure, with the work expansion cooling the expanded stream 39a to
a
temperature of approximately -95 F [-71 C1. The typical commercially available
expanders
are capable of recovering on the order of 80-85% of the work theoretically
available in an
ideal isentropic expansion. The work recovered is often used to drive a
centrifugal
compressor (such as item 16) that can be used to re-compress the heated
distillation vapor
stream (stream 41b), for example. The partially condensed expanded stream 39a
is thereafter
supplied as feed to fractionation tower 18 at a second mid-column feed point.
[0023] The recompressed and cooled distillation vapor stream 41e is divided
into two
streams. One portion, stream 46, is the volatile residue gas product. The
other portion,
recycle stream 45, flows to heat exchanger 10 where it is cooled to -26 F [-32
C1 by heat
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exchange with cool distillation vapor stream 41a. The cooled recycle stream
45a then flows
to exchanger 13 where it is cooled to -139 F [-95 C] and substantially
condensed by heat
exchange with cold distillation vapor stream 41. The substantially condensed
stream 45b is
then expanded through an appropriate expansion device, such as expansion valve
22, to the
demethanizer operating pressure, resulting in cooling of the total stream to -
147 F [-99 C].
The expanded stream 45c is then supplied to fractionation tower 18 as the top
column feed.
The vapor portion (if any) of stream 45c combines with the vapors rising from
the top
fractionation stage of the column to form distillation vapor stream 41, which
is withdrawn
from an upper region of the tower.
[0024] The demethanizer in tower 18 is a conventional distillation column
containing
a plurality of vertically spaced trays, one or more packed beds, or some
combination of trays
and packing. As is often the case in natural gas processing plants, the
fractionation tower
may consist of two sections. The upper section 18a is a separator wherein the
partially
vaporized top feed is divided into its respective vapor and liquid portions,
and wherein the
vapor rising from the lower distillation or demethanizing section 18b is
combined with the
vapor portion of the top feed to form the cold demethanizer overhead vapor
(stream 41)
which exits the top of the tower at -144 F [-98 C]. The lower, demethanizing
section 18b
contains the trays and/or packing and provides the necessary contact between
the liquids
falling downward and the vapors rising upward. The demethanizing section 18b
also
includes reboilers (such as the reboiler and the side reboiler described
previously) which heat
and vaporize a portion of the liquids flowing down the column to provide the
stripping vapors
which flow up the column to strip the liquid product, stream 44, of methane
and lighter
components.
1100251 The liquid product stream 44 exits the bottom of the tower at 64 F
[18 C],
based on a typical specification of a methane to ethane ratio of 0.010:1 on a
mass basis in the
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bottom product. The demethanizer overhead vapor stream 41 passes
countercurrently to the
incoming feed gas and recycle stream in heat exchanger 13 where it is heated
to -40 F
[-40 C1 (stream 41a) and in heat exchanger 10 where it is heated to 104 F [40
C] (stream
41b). The distillation vapor stream is then re-compressed in two stages. The
first stage is
compressor 16 driven by expansion machine 15. The second stage is compressor
20 driven
by a supplemental power source which compresses the residue gas (stream 41d)
to sales line
pressure. After cooling to 110 F [43 C] in discharge cooler 21, stream 41e is
split into the
residue gas product (stream 46) and the recycle stream 45 as described
earlier. Residue gas
stream 46 flows to the sales gas pipeline at 915 psia 116,307 kPa(a)1,
sufficient to meet line
requirements (usually on the order of the inlet pressure).
[0026] A summary of stream flow rates and energy consumption for the
process
illustrated in FIG. 1 is set forth in the following table:
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Table I
(FIG. 1)
Stream Flow Summary - Lb. Moles/Hr [kg moles/Hr]
Stream Methane Ethane Propane Butanes+ Total
31 12,398 546 233 229 13,726
32 8,431 371 159 156 9,334
33 3,967 175 74 73 4,392
34 12,195 501 179 77 13,261
35 203 45 54 152 465
36 3,317 136 49 21 3,607
38 3,520 181 103 173 4,072
39 8,878 365 130 56 9,654
41 13,765 30 0 0 13,992
45 1,377 3 0 0 1,400
46 12,388 27 0 0 12,592
44 10 519 233 229 1,134
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Recoveries*
Ethane 94.99%
Propane 99.99%
Butanes+ 100.00%
Power
Residue Gas Compression 6,149 HP [ 10,109 kW]
* (Based on un-rounded flow rates)
DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
[0027] FIG. 2 illustrates a flow diagram of a process in accordance with
the present
invention. The feed gas composition and conditions considered in the process
presented in
FIG. 2 are the same as those in FIG. 1. Accordingly, the FIG. 2 process can be
compared
with that of the FIG. 1 process to illustrate the advantages of the present
invention.
[0028] In the simulation of the FIG. 2 process, inlet gas enters the plant
as stream 31
and is divided into two portions, streams 32 and 33. The first portion, stream
32, enters a
heat exchange means in the upper region of feed cooling section 118a inside
processing
assembly 118. This heat exchange means may be comprised of a fin and tube type
heat
exchanger, a plate type heat exchanger, a brazed aluminum type heat exchanger,
or other type
of heat transfer device, including multi-pass and/or multi-service heat
exchangers. The heat
exchange means is configured to provide heat exchange between stream 32
flowing through
one pass of the heat exchange means and a distillation vapor stream arising
from separator
section 118b inside processing assembly 118 that has been heated in a heat
exchange means
in the lower region of feed cooling section 118a. Stream 32 is cooled while
further heating
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the distillation vapor stream, with stream 32a leaving the heat exchange means
at -25 F
[-32 C1.
[0029] The second portion, stream 33, enters a heat and mass transfer means
in
demethanizing section 118e inside processing assembly 118. This heat and mass
transfer
means may also be comprised of a fin and tube type heat exchanger, a plate
type heat
exchanger, a brazed aluminum type heat exchanger, or other type of heat
transfer device,
including multi-pass and/or multi-service heat exchangers. The heat and mass
transfer means
is configured to provide heat exchange between stream 33 flowing through one
pass of the
heat and mass transfer means and a distillation liquid stream flowing downward
from
absorbing section 118d inside processing assembly 118, so that stream 33 is
cooled while
heating the distillation liquid stream, cooling stream 33a to -47 F 11-44 C1
before it leaves the
heat and mass transfer means. As the distillation liquid stream is heated, a
portion of it is
vaporized to form stripping vapors that rise upward as the remaining liquid
continues flowing
downward through the heat and mass transfer means. The heat and mass transfer
means
provides continuous contact between the stripping vapors and the distillation
liquid stream so
that it also functions to provide mass transfer between the vapor and liquid
phases, stripping
the liquid product stream 44 of methane and lighter components.
[0030] Streams 32a and 33a recombine to form stream 31a, which enters
separator
section 118f inside processing assembly 118 at -32 F 11-36 C1 and 900 psia
116,203 kPa(a)1,
whereupon the vapor (stream 34) is separated from the condensed liquid (stream
35).
Separator section 118f has an internal head or other means to divide it from
demethanizing
section 118e, so that the two sections inside processing assembly 118 can
operate at different
pressures.
[0031] The vapor (stream 34) from separator section 118f is divided into
two streams,
36 and 39. Stream 36, containing about 27% of the total vapor, is combined
with the
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separated liquid (stream 35, via stream 37), and the combined stream 38 enters
a heat
exchange means in the lower region of feed cooling section 118a inside
processing assembly
118. This heat exchange means may likewise be comprised of a fin and tube type
heat
exchanger, a plate type heat exchanger, a brazed aluminum type heat exchanger,
or other type
of heat transfer device, including multi-pass and/or multi-service heat
exchangers. The heat
exchange means is configured to provide heat exchange between stream 38
flowing through
one pass of the heat exchange means and the distillation vapor stream arising
from separator
section 118b, so that stream 38 is cooled to substantial condensation while
heating the
distillation vapor stream.
[0032] The resulting substantially condensed stream 38a at -138 F [-95 C1
is then
flash expanded through expansion valve 14 to the operating pressure
(approximately 400 psia
112,758 kPa(a)1) of rectifying section 118c (an absorbing means) and absorbing
section 118d
(another absorbing means) inside processing assembly 118. During expansion a
portion of
the stream may be vaporized, resulting in cooling of the total stream. In the
process
illustrated in FIG. 2, the expanded stream 38b leaving expansion valve 14
reaches a
temperature of -139 F [-95 C1 and is supplied to processing assembly 118
between rectifying
section 118c and absorbing section 118d. The liquids in stream 38b combine
with the liquids
falling from rectifying section 118c and are directed to absorbing section
118d, while any
vapors combine with the vapors rising from absorbing section 118d and are
directed to
rectifying section 118c.
[0033] The remaining 73% of the vapor from separator section 118f (stream
39)
enters a work expansion machine 15 in which mechanical energy is extracted
from this
portion of the high pressure feed. The machine 15 expands the vapor
substantially
isentropically to the operating pressure of absorbing section 118d, with the
work expansion
cooling the expanded stream 39a to a temperature of approximately -99 F [-73
C1. The
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partially condensed expanded stream 39a is thereafter supplied as feed to the
lower region of
absorbing section 118d inside processing assembly 118.
[0034] The recompressed and cooled distillation vapor stream 41c is divided
into two
streams. One portion, stream 46, is the volatile residue gas product. The
other portion,
recycle stream 45, enters a heat exchange means in the feed cooling section
118a inside
processing assembly 118. This heat exchange means may also be comprised of a
fin and tube
type heat exchanger, a plate type heat exchanger, a brazed aluminum type heat
exchanger, or
other type of heat transfer device, including multi-pass and/or multi-service
heat exchangers.
The heat exchange means is configured to provide heat exchange between stream
45 flowing
through one pass of the heat exchange means and the distillation vapor stream
arising from
separator section 118b, so that stream 45 is cooled to substantial
condensation while heating
the distillation vapor stream.
1100351 The substantially condensed recycle stream 45a leaves the heat
exchange
means in feed cooling section 118a at -138 F I1-95 C1 and is flash expanded
through
expansion valve 22 to the operating pressure of rectifying section 118c inside
processing
assembly 118. During expansion a portion of the stream is vaporized, resulting
in cooling of
the total stream. In the process illustrated in FIG. 2, the expanded stream
45b leaving
expansion valve 22 reaches a temperature of -146 F I1-99 C1 and is supplied to
separator
section 118b inside processing assembly 118. The liquids separated therein are
directed to
rectifying section 118c, while the remaining vapors combine with the vapors
rising from
rectifying section 118c to form the distillation vapor stream that is heated
in cooling section
118a.
[0036] Rectifying section 118c and absorbing section 118d each contain an
absorbing
means consisting of a plurality of vertically spaced trays, one or more packed
beds, or some
combination of trays and packing. The trays and/or packing in rectifying
section 118c and
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absorbing section 118d provide the necessary contact between the vapors rising
upward and
cold liquid falling downward. The liquid portion of the expanded stream 39a
commingles
with liquids falling downward from absorbing section 118d and the combined
liquid
continues downward into demethanizing section 118e. The stripping vapors
arising from
demethanizing section 118e combine with the vapor portion of the expanded
stream 39a and
rise upward through absorbing section 118d, to be contacted with the cold
liquid falling
downward to condense and absorb most of the C2 components, C3 components, and
heavier
components from these vapors. The vapors arising from absorbing section 118d
combine
with any vapor portion of the expanded stream 38b and rise upward through
rectifying
section 118c, to be contacted with the cold liquid portion of expanded stream
45b falling
downward to condense and absorb most of the C2 components, C3 components, and
heavier
components remaining in these vapors. The liquid portion of the expanded
stream 38b
commingles with liquids falling downward from rectifying section 118c and the
combined
liquid continues downward into absorbing section 118d.
[0037] The distillation liquid flowing downward from the heat and mass
transfer
means in demethanizing section 118e inside processing assembly 118 has been
stripped of
methane and lighter components. The resulting liquid product (stream 44) exits
the lower
region of demethanizing section 118e and leaves processing assembly 118 at 65
F 1118 C1.
The distillation vapor stream arising from separator section 118b is warmed in
feed cooling
section 118a as it provides cooling to streams 32, 38, and 45 as described
previously, and the
resulting distillation vapor stream 41 leaves processing assembly 118 at 105 F
1140 C1. The
distillation vapor stream is then re-compressed in two stages, compressor 16
driven by
expansion machine 15 and compressor 20 driven by a supplemental power source.
After
stream 41b is cooled to 110 F [43 C1 in discharge cooler 21 to form stream
41c, recycle
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stream 45 is withdrawn as described earlier, forming residue gas stream 46
which thereafter
flows to the sales gas pipeline at 915 psia 116,307 kPa(a)1.
[0038] A summary of stream flow rates and energy consumption for the
process
illustrated in FIG. 2 is set forth in the following table:
Table II
(FIG. 2)
Stream Flow Summary - Lb. Moles/Hr [kg moles/Hr1
Stream Methane Ethane Propane Butanes+ Total
31 12,398 546 233 229 13,726
32 8,679 382 163 160 9,608
33 3,719 164 70 69 4,118
34 12,164 495 174 72 13,213
35 234 51 59 157 513
36 3,248 132 46 19 3,528
37 234 51 59 157 513
38 3,482 183 105 176 4,041
39 8,916 363 128 53 9,685
40 0 0 0 0 0
41 13,863 30 0 0 14,095
45 1,475 3 0 0 1,500
46 12,388 27 0 0 12,595
44 10 519 233 229 1,131
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Recoveries*
Ethane 95.03%
Propane 99.99%
Butanes+ 100.00%
Power
Residue Gas Compression 5,787 HP l 9,514 kW]
* (Based on un-rounded flow rates)
[0039] A comparison of Tables I and II shows that the present invention
maintains
essentially the same recoveries as the prior art. However, further comparison
of Tables I and
II shows that the product yields were achieved using significantly less power
than the prior
art. In terms of the recovery efficiency (defined by the quantity of ethane
recovered per unit
of power), the present invention represents more than a 6% improvement over
the prior art of
the FIG. 1 process.
[0040] The improvement in recovery efficiency provided by the present
invention
over that of the prior art of the FIG. 1 process is primarily due to two
factors. First, the
compact arrangement of the heat exchange means in feed cooling section 118a
and the heat
and mass transfer means in demethanizing section 118e in processing assembly
118
eliminates the pressure drop imposed by the interconnecting piping found in
conventional
processing plants. The result is that the portion of the feed gas flowing to
expansion machine
15 is at higher pressure for the present invention compared to the prior art,
allowing
expansion machine 15 in the present invention to produce as much power with a
higher outlet
pressure as expansion machine 15 in the prior art can produce at a lower
outlet pressure.
Thus, rectifying section 118c and absorbing section 118d in processing
assembly 118 of the
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present invention can operate at higher pressure than fractionation column 18
of the prior art
while maintaining the same recovery level. This higher operating pressure,
plus the reduction
in pressure drop for the distillation vapor stream due to eliminating the
interconnecting
piping, results in a significantly higher pressure for the distillation vapor
stream entering
compressor 20, thereby reducing the power required by the present invention to
restore the
residue gas to pipeline pressure.
[0041] Second,
using the heat and mass transfer means in demethanizing section 118e
to simultaneously heat the distillation liquid leaving absorbing section 118d
while allowing
the resulting vapors to contact the liquid and strip its volatile components
is more efficient
than using a conventional distillation column with external reboilers. The
volatile
components are stripped out of the liquid continuously, reducing the
concentration of the
volatile components in the stripping vapors more quickly and thereby improving
the stripping
efficiency for the present invention.
[0042] The
present invention offers two other advantages over the prior art in addition
to the increase in processing efficiency. First, the compact arrangement of
processing
assembly 118 of the present invention replaces five separate equipment items
in the prior art
(heat exchangers 10, 11, and 13; separator 12; and fractionation tower 18 in
FIG. 1) with a
single equipment item (processing assembly 118 in FIG. 2). This reduces the
plot space
requirements and eliminates the interconnecting piping, reducing the capital
cost of a process
plant utilizing the present invention over that of the prior art. Second,
elimination of the
interconnecting piping means that a processing plant utilizing the present
invention has far
fewer flanged connections compared to the prior art, reducing the number of
potential leak
sources in the plant. Hydrocarbons are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some
of which
are classified as greenhouse gases and some of which may be precursors to
atmospheric
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ozone formation, which means the present invention reduces the potential for
atmospheric
releases that can damage the environment.
Other Embodiments
[0043] Some circumstances may favor supplying liquid stream 35 directly to
the
lower region of absorbing section 118d via stream 40 as shown in FIGS. 2, 4,
6, and 8. In
such cases, an appropriate expansion device (such as expansion valve 17) is
used to expand
the liquid to the operating pressure of absorbing section 118d and the
resulting expanded
liquid stream 40a is supplied as feed to the lower region of absorbing section
118d (as shown
by the dashed lines). Some circumstances may favor combining a portion of
liquid stream 35
(stream 37) with the vapor in stream 36 (FIGS. 2 and 6) or with cooled second
portion 33a
(FIGS. 4 and 8) to form combined stream 38 and routing the remaining portion
of liquid
stream 35 to the lower region of absorbing section 118d via streams 40/40a.
Some
circumstances may favor combining the expanded liquid stream 40a with expanded
stream
39a (FIGS. 2 and 6) or expanded stream 34a (FIGS. 4 and 8) and thereafter
supplying the
combined stream to the lower region of absorbing section 118d as a single
feed.
[0044] If the feed gas is richer, the quantity of liquid separated in
stream 35 may be
great enough to favor placing an additional mass transfer zone in
demethanizing section 118e
between expanded stream 39a and expanded liquid stream 40a as shown in FIGS. 3
and 7, or
between expanded stream 34a and expanded liquid stream 40a as shown in FIGS. 5
and 9. In
such cases, the heat and mass transfer means in demethanizing section 118e may
be
configured in upper and lower parts so that expanded liquid stream 40a can be
introduced
between the two parts. As shown by the dashed lines, some circumstances may
favor
combining a portion of liquid stream 35 (stream 37) with the vapor in stream
36 (FIGS. 3 and
7) or with cooled second portion 33a (FIGS. 5 and 9) to form combined stream
38, while the
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remaining portion of liquid stream 35 (stream 40) is expanded to lower
pressure and supplied
between the upper and lower parts of the heat and mass transfer means in
demethanizing
section 118e as stream 40a.
[0045] Some circumstances may favor not combining the cooled first and
second
portions (streams 32a and 33a) as shown in FIGS. 4, 5, 8, and 9. In such
cases, only the
cooled first portion 32a is directed to separator section 118f inside
processing assembly 118
(FIGS. 4 and 5) or separator 12 (FIGS. 8 and 9) where the vapor (stream 34) is
separated
from the condensed liquid (stream 35). Vapor stream 34 enters work expansion
machine 15
and is expanded substantially isentropically to the operating pressure of
absorbing section
118d, whereupon expanded stream 34a is supplied as feed to the lower region of
absorbing
section 118d inside processing assembly 118. The cooled second portion 33a is
combined
with the separated liquid (stream 35, via stream 37), and the combined stream
38 is directed
to the heat exchange means in the lower region of feed cooling section 118a
inside
processing assembly 118 and cooled to substantial condensation. The
substantially
condensed stream 38a is flash expanded through expansion valve 14 to the
operating pressure
of rectifying section 118c and absorbing section 118d, whereupon expanded
stream 38b is
supplied to processing assembly 118 between rectifying section 118c and
absorbing section
118d. Some circumstances may favor combining only a portion (stream 37) of
liquid stream
35 with the cooled second portion 33a, with the remaining portion (stream 40)
supplied to the
lower region of absorbing section 118d via expansion valve 17. Other
circumstances may
favor sending all of liquid stream 35 to the lower region of absorbing section
118d via
expansion valve 17.
[0046] In some circumstances, it may be advantageous to use an external
separator
vessel to separate cooled feed stream 31a or cooled first portion 32a, rather
than including
separator section 118f in processing assembly 118. As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7,
separator 12
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can be used to separate cooled feed stream 31a into vapor stream 34 and liquid
stream 35.
Likewise, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, separator 12 can be used to separate
cooled first portion
32a into vapor stream 34 and liquid stream 35.
[0047] Depending on the quantity of heavier hydrocarbons in the feed gas
and the
feed gas pressure, the cooled feed stream 31a entering separator section 118f
in FIGS. 2 and
3 or separator 12 in FIGS. 6 and 7 (or the cooled first portion 32a entering
separator section
118f in FIGS. 4 and 5 or separator 12 in FIGS. 8 and 9) may not contain any
liquid (because
it is above its dewpoint, or because it is above its cricondenbar). In such
cases, there is no
liquid in streams 35 and 37 (as shown by the dashed lines), so only the vapor
from separator
section 118f in stream 36 (FIGS. 2 and 3), the vapor from separator 12 in
stream 36 (FIGS. 6
and 7), or the cooled second portion 33a (FIGS. 4, 5, 8, and 9) flows to
stream 38 to become
the expanded substantially condensed stream 38b supplied to processing
assembly 118
between rectifying section 118c and absorbing section 118d. In such
circumstances,
separator section 118f in processing assembly 118 (FIGS. 2 through 5) or
separator 12
(FIGS. 6 through 9) may not be required.
[0048] Feed gas conditions, plant size, available equipment, or other
factors may
indicate that elimination of work expansion machine 15, or replacement with an
alternate
expansion device (such as an expansion valve), is feasible. Although
individual stream
expansion is depicted in particular expansion devices, alternative expansion
means may be
employed where appropriate. For example, conditions may warrant work expansion
of the
substantially condensed portion of the feed stream (stream 38a) or the
substantially
condensed recycle stream (stream 45a).
[0049] In accordance with the present invention, the use of external
refrigeration to
supplement the cooling available to the inlet gas from the distillation vapor
and liquid streams
may be employed, particularly in the case of a rich inlet gas. In such cases,
a heat and mass
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*
a CA 02763698 2011-11-28
,
transfer means may be included in separator section 118f (or a gas collecting
means in such
cases when the cooled feed stream 31a or the cooled first portion 32a contains
no liquid) as
shown by the dashed lines in FIGS. 2 through 5, or a heat and mass transfer
means may be
included in separator 12 as shown by the dashed lines in FIGS. 6 though 9.
This heat and
mass transfer means may be comprised of a fin and tube type heat exchanger, a
plate type
heat exchanger, a brazed aluminum type heat exchanger, or other type of heat
transfer device,
including multi-pass and/or multi-service heat exchangers. The heat and mass
transfer means
is configured to provide heat exchange between a refrigerant stream (e.g.,
propane) flowing
through one pass of the heat and mass transfer means and the vapor portion of
stream 31a
(FIGS. 2, 3, 6, and 7) or stream 32a (FIGS. 4, 5, 8, and 9) flowing upward, so
that the
refrigerant further cools the vapor and condenses additional liquid, which
falls downward to
become part of the liquid removed in stream 35. Alternatively, conventional
gas chiller(s)
could be used to cool stream 32a, stream 33a, and/or stream 31a with
refrigerant before
stream 31a enters separator section 118f (FIGS. 2 and 3) or separator 12
(FIGS. 6 and 7) or
stream 32a enters separator section 118f (FIGS. 4 and 5) or separator 12
(FIGS. 8 and 9).
100501 Depending on the temperature and richness of the feed
gas and the amount of
C2 components to be recovered in liquid product stream 44, there may not be
sufficient
heating available from stream 33 to cause the liquid leaving demethanizing
section 118e to
meet the product specifications. In such cases, the heat and mass transfer
means in
demethanizing section 118e may include provisions for providing supplemental
heating with
heating medium as shown by the dashed lines in FIGS. 2 through 9.
Alternatively, another
heat and mass transfer means can be included in the lower region of
demethanizing section
118e for providing supplemental heating, or stream 33 can be heated with
heating medium
before it is supplied to the heat and mass transfer means in demethanizing
section 118e.
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CA 02763698 2011-11-28
100511 Depending on the type of heat transfer devices selected for the
heat exchange
means in the upper and lower regions of feed cooling section 118a, it may be
possible to
combine these heat exchange means in a single multi-pass and/or multi-service
heat transfer
device. In such cases, the multi-pass and/or multi-service heat transfer
device will include
appropriate means for distributing, segregating, and collecting stream 32,
stream 38, stream
45, and the distillation vapor stream in order to accomplish the desired
cooling and heating.
100521 Some circumstances may favor providing additional mass transfer in
the upper
region of demethanizing section 118e. In such cases, a mass transfer means can
be located
below where expanded stream 39a (FIGS. 2, 3, 6, and 7) or expanded stream 34a
(FIGS. 4, 5,
8, and 9) enters the lower region of absorbing section 118d and above where
cooled second
portion 33a leaves the heat and mass transfer means in demethanizing section
118e.
100531 A less preferred option for the FIGS. 2, 3, 6, and 7 embodiments of
the present
invention is providing a separator vessel for cooled first portion 32a, a
separator vessel for
cooled second portion 33a, combining the vapor streams separated therein to
form vapor
stream 34, and combining the liquid streams separated therein to form liquid
stream 35.
Another less preferred option for the present invention is cooling stream 37
in a separate heat
exchange means inside feed cooling section 118a (rather than combining stream
37 with
stream 36 or stream 33a to form combined stream 38), expanding the cooled
stream in a
separate expansion device, and supplying the expanded stream to an
intermediate region in
absorbing section 118d.
100541 It will be recognized that the relative amount of feed found in
each branch of
the split vapor feed will depend on several factors, including gas pressure,
feed gas
composition, the amount of heat which can economically be extracted from the
feed, and the
quantity of horsepower available. More feed above absorbing section 118d may
increase
recovery while decreasing power recovered from the expander and thereby
increasing the
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PCT/US2010/026185
recompression horsepower requirements. Increasing feed below absorbing section
118d
reduces the horsepower consumption but may also reduce product recovery.
[0055] The present invention provides improved recovery of C2 components,
C3
components, and heavier hydrocarbon components or of C3 components and heavier

hydrocarbon components per amount of utility consumption required to operate
the process.
An improvement in utility consumption required for operating the process may
appear in the
form of reduced power requirements for compression or re-compression, reduced
power
requirements for external refrigeration, reduced energy requirements for
supplemental
healing, or a combination thereof.
[0056] While there have been described what are believed to be preferred
embodiments of the invention, those skilled in the art will recognize that
other and further
modifications may be made thereto, e.g. to adapt the invention to various
conditions, types of
feed, or other requirements:
-26-

A single figure which represents the drawing illustrating the invention.

For a clearer understanding of the status of the application/patent presented on this page, the site Disclaimer , as well as the definitions for Patent , Administrative Status , Maintenance Fee  and Payment History  should be consulted.

Admin Status

Title Date
Forecasted Issue Date 2016-08-16
(86) PCT Filing Date 2010-03-04
(87) PCT Publication Date 2010-12-16
(85) National Entry 2011-11-28
Examination Requested 2015-02-13
(45) Issued 2016-08-16

Abandonment History

There is no abandonment history.

Maintenance Fee

Description Date Amount
Last Payment 2020-04-01 $250.00
Next Payment if small entity fee 2021-03-04 $125.00
Next Payment if standard fee 2021-03-04 $250.00

Note : If the full payment has not been received on or before the date indicated, a further fee may be required which may be one of the following

  • the reinstatement fee set out in Item 7 of Schedule II of the Patent Rules;
  • the late payment fee set out in Item 22.1 of Schedule II of the Patent Rules; or
  • the additional fee for late payment set out in Items 31 and 32 of Schedule II of the Patent Rules.

Payment History

Fee Type Anniversary Year Due Date Amount Paid Paid Date
Filing $400.00 2011-11-28
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 2 2012-03-05 $100.00 2012-02-28
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 3 2013-03-04 $100.00 2013-02-26
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 4 2014-03-04 $100.00 2014-02-28
Request for Examination $800.00 2015-02-13
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 5 2015-03-04 $200.00 2015-02-26
Maintenance Fee - Application - New Act 6 2016-03-04 $200.00 2016-03-02
Final Fee $300.00 2016-06-20
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 7 2017-03-06 $200.00 2017-03-06
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 8 2018-03-05 $200.00 2018-02-26
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 9 2019-03-04 $200.00 2019-03-01
Registration of Documents 2020-01-24 $100.00 2020-01-24
Maintenance Fee - Patent - New Act 10 2020-03-04 $250.00 2020-04-01
Late Fee for failure to pay Patent Maintenance Fee 2020-04-01 $150.00 2020-04-01
Current owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Current Owners on Record
S.M.E. PRODUCTS LP
Past owners on record shown in alphabetical order.
Past Owners on Record
ORTLOFF ENGINEERS, LTD.
Past Owners that do not appear in the "Owners on Record" listing will appear in other documentation within the application.

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Abstract 2011-11-28 2 72
Claims 2011-11-28 34 1,258
Drawings 2011-11-28 9 205
Description 2011-11-28 26 1,011
Representative Drawing 2011-11-28 1 19
Cover Page 2012-02-06 2 46
Description 2011-11-29 26 1,009
Claims 2011-11-29 34 1,240
Claims 2015-06-02 18 604
Description 2015-12-11 26 1,007
Representative Drawing 2016-07-07 1 9
Cover Page 2016-07-07 1 41
PCT 2011-11-28 18 1,508
Assignment 2011-11-28 4 93
Prosecution-Amendment 2011-11-28 30 1,097
Fees 2012-02-28 1 163
Prosecution-Amendment 2015-02-13 2 51
Fees 2015-02-26 1 33
Prosecution-Amendment 2015-06-02 25 753
Prosecution-Amendment 2015-06-02 20 673
Prosecution-Amendment 2015-06-18 3 213
Prosecution-Amendment 2015-12-11 3 88
Fees 2016-03-02 1 33
Correspondence 2016-06-20 2 47