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Natural gas conditioning with a heavy hydrocarbon permeable polymer membrane




Nygren, Troy, author
Olsen, Daniel, advisor
Kirkpatrick, Allan, committee member
Smith, T. Gordon, committee member

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Compressor engines located at shale gas sites run on untreated natural gas collected directly from the well since this is the most feasible energy source in many remote locations. This untreated natural gas can contain high levels of C3+ hydrocarbons which reduce the methane number of the fuel, thereby reducing the maximum load output of the engine. Here membrane separation technology is being investigated to remove heavy hydrocarbons from the natural gas stream used to run these compressor engines. A rubbery polymer membrane is being used in a plate and frame type configuration which separates gases based on solubility, with more soluble gases like heptane, hexane, pentane, etc being able to pass through the membrane material but less soluble gases like methane and ethane unable to flow through. By removing heavy hydrocarbons and increasing methane number these engines are able to run closer to their designed full load output. The scope of this project was to setup a small scale bench test system where natural gas containing high concentrations of heavy hydrocarbons was passed through the membrane and composition data was collected on both permeate and retentate streams leaving the membrane module. From this data, separation efficiencies of each gas species were found to characterize the separation effectiveness and make predictions of real world applications.


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gas conditioning
natural gas
shale gas


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