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Predicting Separation of Lower Hydrocarbon from Natural Gas by a Nano-Porous Membrane using Capillary Condensation

Ahmad, Farooq and Mukhtar, H and Man, Z and Dutta, Binay K. (2007) Predicting Separation of Lower Hydrocarbon from Natural Gas by a Nano-Porous Membrane using Capillary Condensation. Chem. Eng. Technol. 2007, 30, No. 9, 1266–1273, 30 (9). pp. 1266-1273.

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In the present work, the potential of a nano-porous membrane for predicting the separation of lower hydrocarbons from natural gas by capillary condensation was explored. While a gas permeates through a capillary at a suitable pressure, the adsorbed layer may attain a thickness enough to fill the entire membrane pore. Poiseuille flow of the condensed phase follows. Our computed results have established that for a passage through a nano-porous membrane, gas having lower condensation pressure condenses in the pores at a pressure which is about an order of magnitude lower than its vapor pressure at the concerned temperature. In the case of propane/methane and butane/methane binary mixtures, propane and butane are preferentially condensed and permeation rates up to 700 g mol/m2 s bar for propane and 600 g mol/m2 s bar for butane have been achieved at a temperature lower than the critical temperature of the permeating species and higher than the critical temperature of the non-permeating species. Since methane has a much lower critical temperature than both propane and butane, it gets physically dissolved in the condensed phase of propane, butane in the case of propane/ methane and butane/methane binary mixtures, respectively. An equation of state (EOS) approach has been adopted to calculate the fugacity of methane in the gas, as well as in the condensed phase, in order to estimate its solubility. The Peng- Robinson equation of state was used. Computation of the separation factor for methane/propane and methane/butane was performed over a wide range of temperature, pressure, and gas composition. The separation factor which is expectedly a function of these variables ranged from 0.3–75 for methane/propane and 0.7–140 for methane/butane binary mixtures. It has been established that an acceptable degree of separation is achievable at moderate pressure and at low temperature for the removal of propane and butane from natural gas. The results have the potential to be used for further refinement and optimization of the process conditions so that this strategy can be exploited for large-scale removal of lower hydrocarbon from natural gas at a low cost.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Technology > Manufacturing processes for nanotechnology
ID Code:4561
Deposited By:CSMNT
Deposited On:08 Apr 2009 02:30
Last Modified:08 Apr 2009 02:30

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