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Dr. Ojewumi M.E

This is the passage of one substance into or
through the bulk of another medium e.g
Perfume and Chips { When a substance is
absorbed in a different medium}
Adsorption is the adhesion or sticking
together of molecules of a gas, liq, or
dissolved solids to the surface of a solid or
sometimes liquid e.g Red dye soltn and Gas
mask (easily reversible by simple heating)

Gas absorption
(also known as scrubbing)
is an operation in which a gaseous mixture
is contacted with a liquid for the purpose of
preferentially dissolving one or more
components of the gas mixture and to
provide a solution of them in the liquid.
there is a mass transfer of the component of
the gas from the gas phase to the liquid
The solute to transfer is said to be absorbed
by the liquid.

Desorption (Or Stripping),

In gas desorption (or stripping), the mass transfer
is in the opposite direction
from the liquid phase to the gas phase
The principles for both systems are the same.
Assumption in this course:
only one component of the gas solute is absorbed.
The other components of the gas are assumed to
be non-soluble in the liquid
the liquid is non-volatile-i.e. there is no transfer of
molecules from the liquid to the gas phase.
no chemical reaction in the system and
operating at isothermal conditions.

commercial Absorption applications

Method of Operation

Two methods of contacting the gas

and liquid are possible:
1. counter-current operation

co-current operation.

. We will focus principally on the counter-current

gas absorption, as it is widely used in the
. for counter-current operation, the gas enters
the column or tower from below and leaves at
the top, while liquid enters from the top and
flows in opposite direction and exits from the



Inside the column where there is vapour-liquid contact, mass

transfer by absorption occurs, i.e. there is a transfer of
solute(s) from the gas phase to the liquid phase.

Counter-current operation

Types of columns
Spray Column:
The gas flows upward continuously through an open
in which scrubbing liquid droplets falls from spray nozzles
through the gas.
The gas pressure drop is small, but separation is not as
good as the bubble column.
This column is widely used for its simplicity, low pressure
drop, and resistance to scale deposition and plugging.

TRAY Column:

sieve tray, valve tray and bubble-cap trays. These

internals are the same as those in "Distillation

Packed Column

Both random and structured packings had been used. "

there are stacked, structured and random Packings

Bubble Column
The gas is forced under pressure through
perforated pipes submerged in the
scrubbing liquid.
As such the gas phase is dispersed and
the liquid phase is continuous.
As the bubbles rise through the liquid,
absorption of the gas occurs.
This type of device suffers from the high
pressure drop due to the liquid
hydrostatic head.

Physical vs. Chemical Absorption

2 types of absorption processes:

physical absorption and chemical absorption,
depending on whether there is any chemical reaction
between the solute and the solvent (absorbent).
When water and hydrocarbon oils are used as
absorbents, no significant chemical reactions occur
between the absorbent and the solute, and the
process is commonly referred to as physical
When aqueous sodium hydroxide (a strong base) is
used as the absorbent to dissolve an acid gas,
absorption is accompanied by a rapid and
irreversible neutralization reaction in the liquid phase
and the process is referred to as chemical
absorption or reactive absorption

More complex examples of chemical

absorption are processes for absorbing CO2
and H2S with aqueous solution of
monoethanolamine (MEA),
diethanolamine (DEA),
diethyleneglycol (DEG) or
triethyleneglycol (TEG),
where a reversible chemical reaction
takes place in the liquid phase.
Chemical reactions can increase the rate of
increase the absorption capacity of the
increase selectivity to preferentially dissolve

Counter-Current Gas Absorption


L and G are approximately constant for dilute
The operating line is a straight line of the form y = mx +
c, with a gradient of L / G,
It connects the 2 end points - point 1 (x1 , y1) that are
conditions at the bottom of the column, and point 2 (x2 ,
y2) conditions at the top of the column.
The equilibrium solubility line is also straight, as
represented by Henry's Law, y = mx, where m is the
Henry's Law constant which is also the gradient of the
The solution for number of theoretical trays required
for gas absorption can be obtained using
graphical method or
mathematical equation.

Graphical: Number of Theoretical Trays

Graphically : method similar to the McCabe-Thiele Method
used in continuous distillation.
Start from point 1 and work the way down towards point 2,
and draw triangles between the operating line and
equilibrium line.
the last triangle represents a theoretical tray, not a reboiler.
Analysis for the changes in gas phase and liquid phase
compositions is similar to the distillation process:
For example, consider tray (b) where the liquid concentration
changed from xa at the inlet to xb at the outlet,
gas composition changed from yc at the inlet to yb at the
outlet. ( yc - yb ) showed the decreases in gas concentration
as it passed through tray (b), and ( xb - xa ) showed the
increase in liquid concentration as it passed through tray (b).
The larger the triangle, the more effective the separation.

5 theoretical trays required for gas absorption


mathematical equation.
The Kremser-Brown-Souders (KBS)
For dilute system, recall that both the operating line and equilibrium
line are straight, even on x-y coordinates.
In this case, the number of theoretical stages required for a given
separation can be calculated using the Kremser-Brown-Souders
Equation as shown:

where A = L /mG= absorption factor and is

assumed constant.

mser-Brown-Souders (KBS) Equat


where the stripping factor S = 1/A, is assumed constant.

Note: m = Henry's Law constant = slope of the equilibrium line.

Choice Of Solvent For Gas Absorption

If the principal purpose of the absorption operation
is to produce a specific solution, as in the
manufacture of hydrochloric acid, for example, the
solvent is specified by the nature of the product,
i.e. water is to be the solvent.
If the principal purpose is to remove some
components (e.g. impurities) from the gas, some
choice is frequently possible.
The factors to be considered are:
Gas Solubility
-The gas solubility should be high, thus increasing
rate of absorption and decreasing the quantity of
solvent required

Choice Of Solvent For Gas Absorption2

-. Generally solvent with a chemical nature similar to the solute to be
absorbed will provide good solubility
- A chemical reaction of the solvent with the solute will frequently
result in very high gas solubility,
-but if the solvent is to be recovered for re-use, the reaction must
be reversible.
For example
*H2S can be removed from gas mixtures using amine solutions since
the gas is readily absorbed at low temperatures and easily stripped
high temperatures.
*Caustic soda absorbs H2S excellently but will not release it in a
stripping operation.
Volatility. The solvent should have a low vapour pressure to
reduce loss of solvent in the gas leaving an absorption column.

Choice Of Solvent For Gas Absorption3

*The materials of construction required for the
equipment should not be unusual or expensive.
*The solvent should be inexpensive, so that losses
are not costly, and should be readily available.
*Low viscosity -rapid absorption rates, improved
flooding characteristics in packed column, low
pressure drops on pumping, and good heat transfer
*The solvent should be non-toxic, non-flammable and
chemically stable.

Major Techniques for

Capture/Elimination of Gas



form nontoxic

reduction to
Adsorption onto solid surfaces
Absorption into liquids
Biological oxidation to form
nontoxic compounds

The Absorption Process


transfer of material from a gas

(absorbate) to a liquid (absorbent)
Transfer is based on the preferential
solubility of a gaseous component in
the liquid
removal and recovery of NH3in
fertilizer manufacturing
Control of SO2 from combustion
source Control of odorous gases

Types of Absorber Control

Packed bed tower absorbers
Spray tower absorbers
Tray tower absorbers
Venturi Absorbers
Ejector Absorbers
Biofiltration Bed Absorbers

Gas Absorption Equipment

Packed bed absorbers most
common Counter-current flow
tower configuration
Gas flow enters bottom of
tower and flows upward

as Absorption Equipment

Gas Absorption
Another counter current
flow tower configuration

Cross-Flow Scrubber

Packed Bed Abs.

Suited to applications where
high gas removal efficiency is
Exhaust gas is relatively free
from particulate matter
Control of SO2and HCl in
sulfuric acid and hydrochloric
acid production

Packing Elements

Packing Elements
Packing material provides a large
surface area for mass transfer
Packing elements are made of
plastic (polyethylene,polypropylene,
polyvinylchloride), ceramic or metal
Sizes range from 1 to 4 inches each
Design depends on corrosiveness of
gas, scrubbing liquid, size of absorber,
static pressure drop and cost

Spray Tower Absorber

Simplest device used for

absorption Consists of open vessel

and a set of liquid spray nozzles to
distribute scrubbing liquid
Limited efficiency because of
limited contact between gas and
spray droplets
Used when gases are extremely
soluble in absorbent

Gas Absorption Equipment

Tray Tower Absorber

Packed Tower Design

Diameter and height of the bed can
be estimated for this design
Use generalized flooding and
pressure drop correlation graph