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PROBLEM:

Adsorption-Tower Design for Hydrogen Purification by Activated Carbon.


Your plant is producing 10 million ft 3 (measured at SC) per day of a gas containing 72.5
vol % H2, and 27.5 vol % CH4. It is proposed to pass this gas through activated carbon to obtain a
product gas containing 95 vol % H2. The activated carbon shows a preferential selective
adsorption of the CH4.
An adsorption-desorption-regeneration cycle using three fixed beds will be used. One bed
will be regenerated and purged over an 8-h period. During this period, the other two beds will be
on alternate l-h adsorption and l-h desorption cycles to permit a continuous operation. A single
pass of the gas will be used.
Each individual bed may be designed to include a number of carbon-packed towers in
parallel. The diameter of the individual towers must all be the same, and the diameter may be 6,
9, 12, or 15 ft.
Determine the following:
1. The number of individual units (or towers) in each bed to give the minimum total cost for the
towers.
2. The height and diameter of the towers for the conditions in part 1.
Data and information previously obtained for the chosen conditions of the process (i.e.,
adsorption at 400 psia, desorption at 20 psia, and an averageAdsorption temperature of 110F)
are as follows:
0.0063 lb mol of material is adsorbed per hour per pound of activated carbon.
Cost data:
Column diameter, ft

12

15

Dollars per foot of length

1170

Cost per tower for skirt or support, dollars

2140

1950

3280
3240

5840
4540

5200

The composition of the adsorbed phase is 96.8 mol % CH4, the balance being H2.
The carbon has a bulk density of 0.30 g/cm3.
The gas velocity in the adsorbers should not exceed 1 ft/s based on the cross-sectional
area of the empty vessel. This applies to all the cycles including the adsorption and the
regeneration and purge.
The feed gases enter the adsorbers at 400 psia and 80F. The product gases leave the
adsorbers at almost 400 psia and a temperature of 140F. Regeneration includes 30 ft3 (SC) of
flue gas per pound of carbon and 80 standard cubic feet of purging air per pound of carbon. The
flue gas is at 600F (its maximum temperature) and 5 psig, and the air is at 90F and 5 psig. The
air may reach a maximum temperature of 600F at the start of the purging.
For each head (either top or bottom), add equivalent cost of 5 ft additionallength per vessel. Cost
data are given above.
SOLUTION:
Given data:
10 million ft3 (measured at SC) per day
Gas contains72.5 vol % H2, and 27.5 vol % CH4
Product gas must contain 95 vol % H2
Regeneration and Purging time of one bed = 8 hrs.
Alternatively,
Time for adsorption of second bed = 1 hr
Time for desorption of second bed = 1 hr
Pressure maintained for adsorption = 400 psig
Pressure maintained for desorption = 20 psig

Average temperature for adsorption = 1100 F


Material adsorbed per hour per pound of activated carbon = 0.0063 lb moles
The composition of the adsorbed phase = 96.8 mol % CH4
= 3.2 mol % H2
Bulk density of carbon = 0.30 g/cm3.
= 300 Kg/m3
The gas velocity in the adsorbers should not exceed 1 ft/s

Feed conditions of adsorbers:


Pressure = 400 psig
Temperature = 80 0F
Product conditions of adsorbers:
Pressure = 400 psig
Temperature = 140 0F
Regeneration = 30 ft3 (SC) of flue gas per pound of carbon + 80 ft 3 (SC) of purging air per pound
of carbon.
Temperature of flue gas = 600 0F
Pressure of flue gas = 5 psig
Temperature of air = 5 0F
Pressure of air = 5 psig

Adsorption Column: Optimum configuration


Basis: 1 hour
(Since the column has to be regenerated after 1 hour)
Weight of CH4 to be adsorbed= Weight of CH4 in - Weight of CH4 Out
Number of Kmoles of CH4 in = PV/RT
P = 101325pa; R = 8314J/KmolesK; T = 273K;
CH4 in = 10million ft3 of gas containing 27.5% by volume of CH4 at SC (273K, 101325Pa) per
day
6

V=

10 10 0.275 (0.3)
24

= 3093.75m3
(PV/RT)= (101325 3093.75) / (8314273)
= 136.3052 Kmoles
Number of Kmoles of H2 in = PV/RT

P = 101325pa; R = 8314J/KmolesK; T = 273K;


H2 in = 10million ft3 of gas containing 72.5% by volume of H2 at SC (273K, 101325Pa) per day
V=

10 106 0.725 (0.3)3


24
= 8156.25m3

(PV/RT)= (101325 8156.25) / (8314273)


= 359.3502 Kmoles
Given, product gas must contain 95% H2
Number of Kmoles of H2 out

X Kmoles

Number of Kmoles of CH4 out

Y Kmoles

(5/95) X Kmoles

0.0526 X Kmoles

Given, the composition of the adsorbed phase = 3.2 mol % H2

(H2 in H2 out) /( CH4 in CH4 out) = (3.2)/100


(359.3502 X) / (136.3052 0.0526X) = 0.032
(359.3502 X) = 0.032 (136.3052 0.0526X)
(359.3502 X) = 4.3617 0.001684X
0.9983X = 354.9885
X = 355.5930 Kmoles
Y = 0.0526 X
= 0.0526 355.5930
= 18.7154 Kmoles

Adsorbed CH4 = (CH4in CH4 out)


= 136.3052 - 18.7154
= 117.5897 Kmoles
= 117.5897 16
= 1881.4364 Kg
Weight of Carbon required = 1 lb for 0.0063 lb moles of CH4
= 1 Kg for 0.0063 Kg moles of CH4

Weight of Carbon required for 1881.4364 Kg of CH4 = 1881.4364 / 0.0063


= 298640.7074 Kg
Bulk density of carbon = 300 Kg/m3
Volume of Carbon powder required = weight/density
= 298640.7074/300
= 995.4690 m3
= 995.4690 (1/0.3)3
= 36869.26 ft3
Case (i):
For diameter of column = 6 ft
Volume of column = D2H/4 = 36869.26 ft3
Height of Column = (4 36869.26) / ( 62)
= 1304.645 ft
Given, gas velocity in the adsorbers should not exceed 1ft/s
Volumetric flow rate = Gas velocity Area of the tower
Volumetric flow rate
D2
i.e.,
1
n
4

Volumetric flow rate of CH4 =

Volumetric flow rate of H2 =

10 10 6 0.275
24 3600
10 10 6 0.725
24 3600

= 31.828 ft3/sec

= 83.912 ft3/sec

Therefore, volumetric flow rate of product gas is = (Volumetric flow rate of CH4 +
Volumetric flow rate of H2)
= (31.828 + 83.912) = 115.74ft3/sec

=>

115.74
62
n
4

=>

n = 4.09 = 4

Given that, for each head (either top or bottom), add equivalent cost of 5 ft additionallength per
vessel
Height of the column along with head = 1304.645 + 5 = 1309.645ft
Column cost per feet = 1170 $
Entire column cost = 1170 1309.645
= 1532284.65 $
Cost per tower for skirt or support = 1950 $
Total Cost = Column cost + Cost per tower for skirt or support
= 1532284.65 +1950
= 1534234.65 $
Case (ii):
For diameter of column = 9 ft
Volume of column = D2H/4 = 36869.26 ft3
Height of Column = (4 35154.6559) / ( 92)
= 579.8421ft
Given, gas velocity in the adsorbers should not exceed 1ft/s

Volumetric flow rate = Gas velocity Area of the tower


Volumetric flow rate
D2
i.e.,
1
n
4

Volumetric flow rate of CH4 =

10 10 6 0.275
24 3600
10 10 6 0.725
24 3600

Volumetric flow rate of H2 =

= 31.828 ft3/sec

= 83.912 ft3/sec

Therefore, volumetric flow rate of product gas is = (Volumetric flow rate of CH4 +
Volumetric flow rate of H2)
= (31.828 + 83.912) = 115.74ft3/sec

=>

=>

115.74
92
n
4

n 1.819 = 2

Given that, for each head (either top or bottom), add equivalent cost of 5 ft additionallength per
vessel
Height of the column along with head = 579.8421+ 5 = 584.8421ft
Column cost per feet = 2140 $
Entire column cost = 2140 584.8421
= 1251562.094 $
Cost per tower for skirt or support = 3240 $
Total Cost = Column cost + Cost per tower for skirt or support
= 1251562.094 + 3240

= 1254802.094 $

Case (iii):
For diameter of column = 12 ft
Volume of column = D2H/4 = 36869.26 ft3
Height of Column = (4 * 36869.26) / ( * 122)
= 326.1612 ft
Given, gas velocity in the adsorbers should not exceed 1ft/s
Volumetric flow rate = Gas velocity Area of the tower
Volumetric flow rate
D2
i.e.,
1
n
4

Volumetric flow rate of CH4 =

Volumetric flow rate of H2 =

10 10 6 0.275
24 3600
10 10 6 0.725
24 3600

= 31.828 ft3/sec

= 83.912 ft3/sec

Therefore, volumetric flow rate of product gas is = (Volumetric flow rate of CH4 +
Volumetric flow rate of H2)
= (31.828 + 83.912) = 115.74ft3/sec

=>

115.74
122
n
4

=>

n 1.02 = 1

Given that, for each head (either top or bottom), add equivalent cost of 5 ft additional length per
vessel
Height of the column along with head = 326.1612 + 5 = 331.1612ft
Column cost per feet = 3280 $
Entire column cost = 3280 331.1612
= 1086208.736 $
Cost per tower for skirt or support = 4540 $
Total Cost = Column cost + Cost per tower for skirt or support
= 1086208.736 + 4540
= 1090748.736 $
Case (iv):
For diameter of column = 15 ft
Volume of column = D2H/4 = 36869.26 ft3
Height of Column = (4 * 36869.26) / ( * 152)
= 208.7432 ft
Given, gas velocity in the adsorbers should not exceed 1ft/s
Volumetric flow rate = Gas velocity Area of the tower
Volumetric flow rate
D2
i.e.,
1
n
4

10 10 0.275
24 3600

Volumetric flow rate of CH4 =

10 10 6 0.725
24 3600

Volumetric flow rate of H2 =

= 31.828 ft3/sec

= 83.912 ft3/sec

Therefore, volumetric flow rate of product gas is = (Volumetric flow rate of CH4 +
Volumetric flow rate of H2)
= (31.828 + 83.912) = 115.74ft3/sec

=>

115.74
152
n
4

=>

n 0.65 = 1

Given that, for each head (either top or bottom), add equivalent cost of 5 ft additionallength per
vessel
Height of the column along with head = 208.7432 + 5 = 213.7432ft
Column cost per feet = 5840 $
Entire column cost = 5840 213.7432
= 1248260.288 $
Cost per tower for skirt or support = 5200 $
Total Cost = Column cost + Cost per tower for skirt or support
= 1248260.288 +5200
= 1253460.288 $
Diameter

Volume

Height of

Column

Entire column

Cost

Total Cost

No of

of

of

column

cost per

cost ($)

per

($)

individual

column

column

(ft)

feet ($)

(ft)

(ft3)

tower

towers in

for skirt

each bed

or
support
($)

36869.2

1304.64

6
36869.2

5
579.842

12

6
36869.2

15

1170

1532284.65

1950

15344234.6

3240

5
1254802.09

2
1
1

2140

1251562.09

1
326.161

3280

4
1086208.73

4540

4
1090748.73

6
36869.2

2
208.743

5840

6
1248260.28

5200

6
1253460.28

Therefore,
1. The number of individual units (or towers) in each bed to give the minimum total cost for
the towers is n = 1
2. The height and diameter of the towers for the conditions in part I are
Height = 326.1612ft
Diameter = 12ft

Minimum

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