Lean, water-free glycol (purity >99%) is fed to the top of an absorber where it is contacted with the wet natural gas stream. The glycol removes water from the natural gas by physical absorption and is carried out the bottom of the column. Upon exiting the absorber, the glycol stream is often referred to as “rich glycol”. The dry natural gas leaves the top of the absorption column and is fed either to a pipeline system or to a gas plant
After leaving the absorber, the rich glycol is fed to a flash vessel where hydrocarbon vapours are removed and any liquid hydrocarbons are skimmed from the glycol. This step is necessary as the absorber is typically operated at high pressure and the pressure must be reduced before the regeneration step. Due to the composition of the rich glycol, a vapour phase will form when the pressure is lowered having a high hydrocarbon content
After leaving the flash vessel, the rich glycol is heated in a cross-exchanger and fed to the stripper (also known as a regenerator). The glycol stripper consists of a column, an overhead condenser and a reboiler. The glycol is thermally regenerated to remove excess water and regain the high glycol purity
The hot, lean glycol is cooled by cross-exchange with rich glycol entering the stripper. It is then fed to a lean pump where its pressure is elevated to that of the glycol absorber. After raising the pressure, the lean solvent is cooled again with a trim cooler before being fed back into the absorber. This trim cooler can either be a cross-exchanger with the dry gas leaving the absorber or an aerial type cooler
EXHEAT electric heaters can be used within the reboiler to thermally regenerate the glycol, providing a clean, efficient controllable heat source with controlled sheath temperatures so as not to burn the glycol.