Honeywell has introduced a high recovery retrofit unit to upgrade existing cryogenic units, enabling them to extract more than 99% of high-value ethane from natural gas. The retrofit technology, which will go into commercial service early this year, will help gas processors prepare for the predicted surge in ethane demand, the company says.
The high recovery retrofit unit, from Honeywell’s UOP Russell business, uses an advanced cycle process to extract high-value ethane from residue gas and can be easily deployed on any 200 million standard cubic foot per day standard technology gas plant. Ethane is used almost exclusively as a petrochemical feedstock to produce ethylene, which is a primary component of plastics. The UOP Russell retrofit solution is designed to upgrade GSP-type cryogenic units, allowing gas processors to provide more value for gas producers, Honeywell says.
The retrofit units can be readily customized to customer specifications and equipment. In addition, the retrofit can be achieved without significant changes to existing equipment.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), US production of ethane is forecast to increase from an average of 1.25 million barrels per day in 2016 to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2018. The EIA predicts that increased ethane production will be consumed in the petrochemical industry domestically, in addition to exports to other countries, particularly in Europe and Asia.
“Many gas processing plants today use the gas subcooled process – or GSP – to recover about 85% of the ethane in the gas stream,” said Craig Ranta, business director, UOP Russell. “The new high-recovery retrofit unit can improve that recovery to more than 99%.”
The unit incorporates high-performance retrofit technology from Ortloff Engineers, Ltd., a global leader in ultra-high NGL and LPG recovery technology development.
UOP Russell, a subsidiary of Honeywell UOP, provides skid-mounted, pre-engineered and customized modular equipment. The equipment is easily delivered to remote locations and then assembled on-site, reducing construction time and expense and improving operational reliability, the company says.