New technology removing mercury from natural gas

New technology for removing mercury from natural gas

6:41 AM, 14th March 2015
New technology for removing mercury from natural gas
The mercury-removing ionic liquid system was commercialised for use within the petroleum gas production industry.

CAMBRIDGE, UK: Scientists in the UK and Malaysia have disclosed the research behind a fast and safe commercial technology for removing mercury from natural gas. The technology is the first solid-supported ionic liquid to be used at an industrial scale, and its development, from laboratory to full plant operation, took just four years.

The vast volume of natural gas that is processed annually by industry contains a pernicious contaminant – hundreds of tonne of mercury. This corrosive metal is intrinsically present within hydrocarbon deposits, and it must be removed to mitigate catastrophic damage, not only to the environment but also to the gas-processing plants.

An explosion at the Skikda liquefied natural gas plant, Algeria, in 1973, is a poignant example of inadequate mercury removal. Mercury caused damage to equipment that resulted in 27 deaths and financial losses of $1 billion. Good mercury removal technology is therefore vital in this industry.

Now, a team at Queen’s University ionic liquid laboratories (Quill), led by Ken Seddon, Martin Atkins and John Holbrey, in collaboration with Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), has revealed the research underpinning HycaPure Hg an ionic liquid-based mercury removal technology for the natural gas industry.

HycaPure Hg comprises chlorocuprate(ii) ionic liquids, impregnated on high surface-area porous solid supports. It oxidises and dissolves mercury from passing gas and can be easily retrofitted to gas plants.

The underlying research suggests that HycaPure Hg has a lifetime of up to three times that of commercial alternatives (such as sulfur-impregnated activated carbon). This could represent a substantial saving for mercury removal units, which each cost around $180,000 per fill. Downstream equipment is also protected during mercury level fluctuations by the technology’s rapid mercury capture kinetics.

“This is a wonderful application of ionic liquids at the industrial level,” said ionic liquids specialist Hiroyuki Ohno, from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan.

“In our industry, it would typically take 7–10 years to get innovations to market, with stage gates and milestones in sequence,” explained Atkins. However, the collaboration’s unconventional approach allows multiple milestones to be worked up in parallel, in the laboratory and the commercial setting simultaneously. This might be a simple concept, but its implementation was highly complex. Atkins described how there was initially no manufacturer that could support scale-up of the discoveries made in the lab, and the work eventually involved more than 7 international partners.

Ionic liquids have previously generated much excitement, but also some fierce criticism owing to some being toxic. However, Tom Welton, an expert in sustainable chemistry, from Imperial College, London, UK, points out that mercury removal justifies the use of ionic liquids: ‘What matters is that the team have solved a very large scale industrial and environmental problem, not whether the ionic liquid itself is seen in isolation as being ‘green.’


© Royal Society of Chemistry News



Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News

GE, Kemira create global alliance to bring water technology to pulp, paper industry

TREVOSE, US: GE and Kemira announced a formal distribution agreement, which combines GE’s advanced water technology with Kemira’s on-site ...

Read more
Clariant opens manufacturing facility for packaging solutions in China

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Clariant, a world leader in Specialty Chemicals, announced the inauguration of a new manufacturing facility, acquired through their r ...

Read more
Heat-loving bacteria converts plant matter to biofuels

RALEIGH, US: Unique proteins newly discovered in heat-loving bacteria are more than capable of attaching themselves to plant cellulose, possibly pavin ...

Read more
Material derived from silk could help improve battery life

WASHINGTON DC, US: Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today’s electronics, from portable gadgets to electric cars. But much to the frust ...

Read more
Graphene could help fight cavities, gum disease

WASHINGTON DC, US: Dental diseases, which are caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the mouth, are among the most common health problems in ...

Read more
Evonik to buy Indian catalysts firm, Monarch Catalyst

ESSEN, GERMANY: Evonik Industries AG intends to strengthen its global catalysts business. Evonik has signed an agreement with Monarch Catalyst Pvt Ltd ...

Read more uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X