Phase equilibrium studies of high-pressure natural gas mixtures with toluene for LNG applications
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. To prevent possible freeze out in the main cryogenic heat exchanger (MCHE) used in liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, new and accurate phase equilibrium data are required to improve the predictive reliability of existing models, in particular cubic equations of state (EOS). In this work, the vapor-liquid equilibrium (VLE) of a ternary methane + propane + toluene (methylbenzene) mixture was studied over a wide range of conditions with toluene as the minor component in both the liquid and vapor phases. Measurements were conducted along different isochoric paths at temperatures between (213 and 298 K) and pressures up to 8.3 MPa, to obtain data at conditions relevant to the operation of LNG scrub columns. The measured VLE data were compared to results calculated with the HYSYS Peng Robinson (PR) equation of state (EOS) that is used widely in LNG industry. The amount of toluene in the vapor phase was found to be under-predicted by the HYSYS PR EOS by an average of around 77% at lower temperatures, with the error increasing as temperature and toluene concentration decreased. The current work demonstrates that the HYSYS PR EOS as well as other cubic EOS substantially under-predict the possible toluene content of saturated vapours that could be present in the overhead of the LNG scrub column. Using the ThermoFAST model recently developed and optimised for the calculation of solid-liquid equilibrium conditions in LNG production, this work further demonstrates that the 77% increase in the toluene content of a saturated vapor entering the MCHE, corresponds to a 7 K increase in the solid formation temperature, which could significantly increase the likelihood of a blockage in the MCHE and thus possible shutdown of the LNG plant. The experimental and modelling work presented here underscores the importance of improving predictions of the allowable threshold concentration of heavy components in fluids entering cryogenic heat exchangers in LNG plants.
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