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Q A & Rich-Amine Letdown in

Refineries, Gas Processing Plants


n DRAG® valves eliminate catastrophic failures at
Williams Field Service in rich-amine letdown valves.
Q. What is amine, and how is it used? flash off of the gases. In addition, many
A. Amine, often called MEA or DEA, is times a lower vapor pressure is assumed
a chemical liquid used to remove which causes the valve to be undersized.
contaminants such as hydrogen sulfide For example, a simple Fisher ported valve
(H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2) from raw or CAV III is used. Combining the effect
gas. The amine liquid is pumped into of high kinetic energy with an undersized
the top of a column. The raw gas enters valve results in high mechanical vibration
through the bottom of the column and, as that produces catastrophic failure. Often
it rises, the raw gas passes through the the catastrophic failure occurs at the plug-
amine liquid. In this process, the H2S and stem connection.
CO2 are absorbed in to the amine liquid Q. Why did Williams Field Service switch
and are removed from the gas. from Fisher valves to DRAG® valves?
This process is similar to carbon dioxide A. Through experience, the catastrophic
being absorbed into a carbonated failure of their Fisher rich amine letdown
beverage. The gas leaving from the valves could be predicted; in other words,
column is referred to as “clean” and is they knew the Fisher valves would only
sent for distribution or use in the refinery. work for a certain number of weeks before
The amine at the bottom of the column they failed. While Fisher had a CAV IV
is referred to as rich amine. This level multi-stage design, the CAV IV design
control valve, referred to as the rich amine was limited in capacity and number of
letdown valve, serves two purposes. In pressure reducing stages, and would
addition to level control, the valve is require a much larger valve size. In
also used to flash off the contaminant comparison, the DRAG® valves offered
gases from the rich amine liquid. The the number of pressure-reducing stages
contaminant gases are then collected and required to limit the kinetic energy
sent for further processing. The amine, produced while also packaging these
now called lean amine, is returned to a stages in a smaller valve size.
storage tank where it is then pumped back Q. What is the value brought to Williams
into the column for reuse. Field Service by the DRAG® valves?
Q. How are the contaminant gases flashed A. The real value is reliability. The fact that
off from the rich amine? the DRAG® valves do not fail means that
A. The column is maintained under pressure Williams Field Service can continue to
to improve the efficiency of the absorption process the gas without shutting down
process. At this pressure and saturation the train. Williams Field Service makes its
point, the rich amine is a multi-constituent profit from keeping the gas processing
fluid with a vapor pressure near the trains up and running.
pressure in the column. As the fluid Q. Can all gas processing plants and
passes through the rich amine letdown refineries realize this value from a DRAG®
valve, the pressure drops across the valve, rich amine letdown valve?
causing the gases to be released from the A. Most gas processing plants will have five
amine. to ten of these rich amine letdown valves
Q. Why is the rich amine letdown process a which are used to process all of the
severe service application? gas. By replacing all of these valves with
A. Typically, the complexity of the multi- DRAG® valves, the gas processing plant or
constituent fluid with absorbed gases is refinery can have the guaranteed reliability
not understood by the customer or valve needed to keep the trains up and running
supplier. They do not recognize the high and producing profit.
degree of kinetic energy produced by the
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