(126a) Consider the Alternatives - NGL Fractionation Configurations

Authors: 
Schroeder, S., Advisian
Increases in natural gas production are leading to an increased production of natural gas liquids (NGLs). The expected long term trend of increased NGL production will require additional NGL fractionation capacity through the construction of new units or revamps of existing units. This paper looks at the conventional NGL fractionation train and compares to alternate configurations. Several options are considered including heat integration, heat pumps and alternate column configurations such as divided wall columns.

The fractionation train will consider separation into the following products: ethane, propane, iso-butane, n-butane and natural gasoline. The focus will be on the fractionation train therefore additional treating of the products will be assumed to be the same for all cases and will be excluded from the comparison. The comparisons will be based on a new construction and not revamping an existing unit, however considerations for unit revamps will be included in the discussion of the options. The configurations will be compared based on their relative complexity, estimated capital cost, estimated operating costs and other considerations.

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