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Numerical Analysis of VPSA Technology Retrofitted to Steam Reforming Hydrogen Plants to Capture CO2 and Produce Blue H2


The increasing demand for energy and commodities has led to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, the chief of which is represented by carbon dioxide (CO2). Blue hydrogen (H2), a lowcarbon hydrogen produced from natural gas with carbon capture technologies applied, has been suggested as a possible alternative to fossil fuels in processes with hard-to-abate emission sources, including refining, chemical, petrochemical and transport sectors. Due to the recent international directives aimed to combat climate change, even existing hydrogen plants should be retrofitted with carbon capture units. To optimize the process economics of such retrofit, it has been proposed to remove CO2 from the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) tail gas to exploit the relatively high CO2 concentration. This study aimed to design and numerically investigate a vacuum pressure swing adsorption (VPSA) process capable of capturing CO2 from the PSA tail gas of an industrial steam methane reforming (SMR)-based hydrogen plant using NaX zeolite adsorbent. The effect of operating conditions, such as purge-to-feed ratio and desorption pressure, were evaluated in relation to CO2 purity, CO2 recovery, bed productivity and specific energy consumption. We found that conventional cycle configurations, namely a 2-bed, 4-step Skarstrom cycle and a 2-bed, 6-step modified Skarstrom cycle with pressure equalization, were able to concentrate CO2 to a purity greater than 95% with a CO2 recovery of around 77% and 90%, respectively. Therefore, the latter configuration could serve as an efficient process to decarbonize existing hydrogen plants and produce blue H2.

Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Italy ; United Kingdom

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