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Improve Energy Efficiency Using Expanders

By Sebastiano Giardinella, Edwin Diaz, Freddie Sarhan and Scott Sakakura |

Expanders can take advantage of pressure reductions to drive rotating machines. Information on how to assess the potential benefits of installing expanders is provided here Often in the chemical process industries (CPI), “a considerable amount of energy is wasted in pressure control valves, where high-pressure fluids must undergo a pressure reduction” [1]. Depending on various technical and economic factors, it may be feasible to transform this energy into rotational mechanical energy that can be used to drive an electrical generator or another rotating machine. In the case of incompressible fluids (liquids), this is accomplished by using hydraulic power-recovery turbines (HPRTs; explained in Ref. 1). For compressible fluids (gases), expanders are the appropriate machine. Expanders are a mature technology with a host of successful applications, such as fluid catalytic cracking (FCC), refrigeration, natural-gas city gate-valve stations, air separation or off-gas venting, to name a few. Basically, any gas stream subject to a pressure reduction can be used to drive an expander, yet “the energy output is proportional to pressure ratio, temperature and flowrate of the stream” [2], and the technical and economic feasibility of…
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