New wave sulphur recovery in Mexico (TIA)
Pemex has successfully started up a SmartSulf unit treating amine acid gas and sour water stripper gas at a refinery in Salamanca, Mexico.
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This is the first example of a second generation SmartSulf unit, applying thermoplates for reactor temperature control, and is installed in Pemex’s Ing. Antonio M. Amor refinery.
The technology, acquired by Prosernat in 2014 and developed for many years by German company ITS Reaktor Technik GmbH, targets high efficiency in performance at least investment cost. The Salamanca plant was designed by Worley Parsons under licence from ITS Reaktor Technik and has a nominal sulphur capacity of 80 t/d.
SmartSulf delivers sulphur recovery efficiency in excess of 99.5% from a two-stage Claus unit configuration (one thermal stage and two catalytic stages). The main difference from a conventional Claus configuration, as Figure 1 shows, is the use of isothermal reactors, which enable the second reactor to operate as a dry sub-dewpoint reactor to achieve very high sulphur recovery efficiency. A key benefit of the technology, reflected in industrial feedback, is its high reliability and easy operation. For the 72 hours guarantee test run at the refinery, the unit had to operate as the only sulphur recovery unit in the refinery and therefore had to cope with the feed gas fluctuations typical of refinery operations. As a consequence, the sulphur load varied and the unit operated at around 110% of design capacity for most of the initial operation and performance test period.
Nevertheless, the plant operated flawlessly, realising an average sulphur recovery efficiency of 99.5% and meeting the guaranteed design figure.
For the operation of a SmartSulf unit, utility requirements are low, quite similar to those of a conventional Claus unit. The only products are bright yellow sulphur and steam, with no by-products formed.
This short case study originally appeared in PTQ's Technology In Action feature - Q2 2015 issue.
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