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Testing the limits of cryogenic distillation

By Mary Page Bailey |

CSIRO (Perth, Australia; www.csiro.au) and the University of Western Australia (www.uwa.edu.au) have developed a first-of-its-kind pilot plant for high-pressure cryogenic distillation processes. “Although cryogenic distillation is practiced in industry and there are some models that can be applied to cryogenic distillation, some gaps remain when it comes to high pressures. The facility will help to fill these gaps and better understand the fundamentals of distillation in temperature and pressure regions not previously explored,” explains Nick Burke, CSIRO research scientist. The plant can operate at temperatures as low as –70°C and at pressures as high as 50 bars, with modifications enabling operation up to 100 bars. A reflux condenser fabricated by CSIRO will allow operation at even lower temperatures. Views of the cryogenic distillation apparatus Source: CSIRO[/caption] Currently, the pilot plant’s work is aimed at processes for removing heavier hydrocarbons from natural gas prior to transformation to liquefied natural gas (LNG). “We can test different column internals and can operate under conditions that would not be considered in commercial facilities. In other words, we can push the limits of cryogenic distillation…
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