Simulation, integration, and economic analysis of gas-to-liquid processes
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Gas-to-liquid (GTL) involves the chemical conversion of natural gas into synthetic crude that can be upgraded and separated into different useful hydrocarbon fractions including liquid transportation fuels. Such technology can also be used to convert other abundant natural resources such as coal and biomass to fuels and value added chemicals (referred to as coal-to-liquid (CTL) and biomass-to-liquid (BTL)). A leading GTL technology is the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process. The objective of this work is to provide a techno-economic analysis of the GTL process and to identify optimization and integration opportunities for cost saving and reduction of energy usage while accounting for the environmental impact. First, a base-case flowsheet is synthesized to include the key processing steps of the plant. Then, a computer-aided process simulation is carried out to determine the key mass and energy flows, performance criteria, and equipment specifications. Next, energy and mass integration studies are performed to address the following items: (a) heating and cooling utilities, (b) combined heat and power (process cogeneration), (c) management of process water, (c) optimization of tail gas allocation, and (d) recovery of catalyst-supporting hydrocarbon solvents. Finally, these integration studies are conducted and the results are documented in terms of conserving energy and mass resources as well as providing economic impact. Finally, an economic analysis is undertaken to determine the plant capacity needed to achieve the break-even point and to estimate the return on investment for the base-case study. 2010 Elsevier B.V.All rights reserved.