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Absorption Equipment

Dr Xianfeng Fan

Basic Principle
A component is removed from a gas into a
liquid.
Used either to clean the gas or recover the
solute
The component being absorbed must be
very soluble in the liquid.
Other components of the gas must be very
insoluble.
The liquid must be non-volatile
Dont get confused with:

Stripping here the solute passes from
the liquid into the gas

attaches to the surface of a solid
Equipment
Requirements:
Good contact between
gas and liquid
Good separation of
phases
Continuous operation

Simplest solution

V
out

y
out

L
in

x
in

V
in

y
in

L
out

x
out

Liquid is well mixed
(uniform composition)

Liquid and gas leaving
are at equilibrium.

V
out
is in equilibrium with
L
out

L
in
and V
in
are not in
equilibrium with anything.

V
out

y
out

L
in

x
in

V
in

y
in

L
out

x
out

y
out
and y
in
: mole fraction of the absorbing component in vapour phase.
x
out
and x
in
: mole fraction of the absorbing component in liquid phase.
y
x
x
out

y
out

y
in

x
in
= 0
equilibrium
line
V
out

y
out

L
in

x
in

V
in

y
in

L
out

x
out

Phase Rule: C = 3 (solvent liquid, solute, carrier gas),
P = 2 so:

F = 3 - 2 + 2 = 3 degrees of freedom

So we can choose:
Pressure
Temperature
Solute concentration in one phase
and the other concentration is fixed

partial pressure NH
3

above solution at
equilibrium
mmHg
1000
100
10
kg NH
3
/100 kg H
2
O
10 100 1000
0C
10
30
40
20
Henrys Law

p
A
= H
A
c
A

p
A
= partial pressure of A
c
A
= concentration of solute in liquid
H
A
= Henrys law constant

Various sets of units can be used.
One stage of absorption
is not likely to be
enough there will
still be solute in the
gas.

V
out

y
out

L
in

x
in

V
in

y
in

L
out

x
out

2 Stages

V
in

y
in

1
V
out1

y
out1

V
out1

y
out1

V
out2

y
out2

L
in2

x
in2

L
out2

x
out2

L
in1
x
in1

L
out1
x
out1

2
Fresh solvent
x
out1
> x
out2

y
out2
still high
3 stages
V
in

y
in

1
V
out1

y
out1

V
out1

y
out1

V
out2

y
out2

L
in2

x
in2

L
out2

x
out2

L
in1
x
in1

L
out1
x
o
ut1

2
3
V
out2

y
out2

V
out3

y
out3

L
in3

x
in3

L
out3

x
out3

This reduces the gas solute concentration further but uses another stream
of fresh solvent. x
out3
is very dilute a problem.
Need to use less
solvent.
Need more
concentrated liquid
products.
Need to remove as
much solute as
possible from gas.
Solution:
Use dilute liquids to
clean concentrated
gas streams

- use a countercurrent
system
V
in

y
in

1
V
out1

y
out1

V
out1

y
out1

V
out2

y
out2

L
out2

x
out2

L
out1
x
out
1

2
3
V
out2

y
out2

V
out3

y
out3

L
in3

x
in3

L
out3

x
out3

Now the liquid entering stage n is the liquid leaving stream n+1.
There is one liquid feed to the process and one (concentrated) liquid
product.
Countercurrent Absorption
A more practical solution
A single column can
contain many stages
of separation.
Still a countercurrent
process
Plates designed to
maximise interface
area.

V
a

L
a

V
b

L
b

The Sieve Tray

downcomer
weir
gas flows upwards
Sieve tray features
Gas flow through holes prevents liquid seeping
through
Vigorous bubbling gives good contact
Low gas flow gives weeping
If the gas flow stops all liquid dumps to the
base of the column
Cheap and simple to make
high stage efficiency
Other plate types
For higher turn-down ratio (low gas flow
relative to liquid) or where dumping is not
acceptable valve plates and bubble plates
can be used expensive and complicated.

Bubble Cap
Valve Cap