Experimental study of foaming in alkanolamine system
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Use of amine for removal of carbon dioxide, CO2, from natural gas is the most common method. In several of these removal units, operational problems because of foaming are reported. Further examination of these problems will in most cases show that the problem is not foaming, but will however be temporarily fixed by adding foam inhibitors. Foaming in amine based CO2 removal plants is known to be one of the main challenges in daily operation. Foaming can lead to entrainment of liquids into downstream process equipment, and might lead to a situation where the process specifications for CO2 cannot be met. A robust design of process equipment such as separators, contacting columns and internals is always necessary to prevent heavy foaming and unstable operation. This thesis will discuss the foaming problematic in chemical absorption plants, how foam is formed and how surfactants and contaminants can affect the foam stability and foaming tendency. There are several different methods for characterizing foams. Some of these will also be discussed. Experiments will be performed at Statoils Research Centre at Rotvoll in Trondheim. By using chemicals and contaminants that can be found in amine systems, foaming tendency, foam stability and drainage will be evaluated.