Modeling and Experiments for CO Blowdown from the Cryogenic Pilot Plant and the Mitigations Measure

Surmi, Amiza (Petronas Reseach SDN BHD)



A pilot of cryogenic distillation technology is designed and installed for separation of the high CO2 concentration of feed up to 80 mol % from natural gas. However, the main concern was the dry ice formation during depressurization or blowdown might cause the pipeline and equipment blockage and consequently resulting in safety issues.

A dynamics simulation and modeling were conducted using commercialize software to determine the settle out temperature during the blowdown especially emergency condition. The investigations were focused on the high operating pressure and low operating temperature with a high CO2 composition which is closer to transient condition and solid region. Then, more comprehensive modeling was conducted by incorporating the equipment and piping design data including the sizing of relieve valves (RVs) and blowdown valves (BDVs). The accuracy of information is very crucial to obtain more reliable results.

It was observed that at high operating pressure, (50 to 75 barg) and low operating temperature,(-58 to 15 °C) the settle out temperature due Joule-Thomson (JT) effect were −58 °C and −92 °C for 60% and 80% CO2 concentration, respectively. Based on the phase diagram, in this condition, the CO2 will be under a solid region. As a result, the Minimum Design Metal Temperature (MDMT) of −100 °C was selected for equipment and pipelines design to avoid material brittle-fracture. Few mitigations measure were designed and installed to avoid the CO2 solidification. The BDVs were installed at the warmer area to minimize the JT effect leading to lower operating temperature than CO2 solidification temperature resulting to potential equipment blockage. The electrical heat tracings were installed at the outlet flange and outlet line of RVs and BDVs to maintain fluid temperature above CO2 solidification limit. This is to prevent CO2 solid from attaching to the pipe wall and build up in the piping in the event of relief. Another mitigation was by installing the outlet line with sloped toward vent header and free from instrument probe or sensor to prevent CO2 solid from build up at piping dead leg section. As a result, no sign of CO2 solid found in the sections that equipped with mitigations measure during experiments.

An inherently safer design of equipment and pipelines are very crucial especially for high CO2 concentration, high operating pressure and low operating temperature with the appropriate mitigations to avoid catastrophic failure.