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Comment Processing & Handling

Lower-cost sulfur-removal process for syngas goes commercial

By Scott Jenkins |

An adsorbent-based, sulfur-removal process for synthesis gas (syngas) that lowers capital and operating costs compared to alternative methods of removing sulfur has completed pre-commercial testing and has achieved commercial status. The Warm-gas Desulfurization Process (WDP; diagram) has been under development by Research Triangle Institute (RTI; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; for over 10 years, and is now commercially available through RTI’s partner Casale S.A. (Lugano, Switzerland; A proprietary solid-sorbent material critical to the process is now being manufactured by another RTI partner, Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland;

RTI says that the WDP technology consistently reduced inlet total sulfur by 99.8–99.9% in raw syngas with sulfur concentrations as high as 14,000 parts per million (ppm). Further, integration of WDP with CO2-capture systems can reduce sulfur to parts-per-billion levels, according to RTI, which renders the syngas suitable for chemicals-, fertilizer- and fuel-manufacturing processes. “Removing sulfur at warm process temperatures contributes to increased efficiencies and lower operating and capital expenditure,” RTI says.

To remove sulfur from syngas, WDP uses a dual transport reactor, where the first reactor adsorbs sulfur compounds from the raw syngas while the second reactor regenerates the sorbent material, RTI explains. RTI points out that one of the unique factors of the process is its ability to operate at pressures up to 80 bars, which matches many commercial gasifier systems. “Keeping process conditions constant contributes to increased efficiencies and lower operating and capital expenditure,” RTI says.

WDP was first piloted at a coal gasification unit at Eastman Chemical Co. (Kingsport, Tenn.; and then scaled up at a pre-commercial testing unit in Florida that removed sulfur from coal-derived syngas at an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant (Chem. Eng., August 2010, p. 10;

Since the initial pilot plant, RTI and Clariant have made improvements to the novel sorbent material, including, among other things, an improved manufacturing process that effectively disperses the active metals, allowing high sulfur capacity and fast reaction rates.


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