Process Design and Integration of Shale Gas to Methanol
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The substantial discoveries of shale gas present many opportunities for the chemical, petrochemical, and fuel industries. As in conventional natural gas, shale gas contains primarily methane, but some formations contain significant amounts of higher molecular weight hydrocarbons and inorganic gases such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide. These differences present several technical challenges to incorporating shale gas with the current infrastructure designed to be used with natural gas. This paper is aimed at process synthesis, analysis, and integration of the production of methanol from shale gas. The composition of the shale gas feedstock is assumed to come from the Barnett Shale play located near Fort Worth, Texas, which is currently the most active shale gas play in the United States. Process simulation using ASPEN Plus along with published data were used to construct a base-case scenario. Key performance indicators were assessed. These include overall process targets for mass and energy and economic performance. A sensitivity analysis is carried out to assess the impact of the methanol selling price and shale gas price on the profitability of the process. Energy integration including process cogeneration was carried out to enhance the sustainability and profitability of the process. Finally, a techno-economic analysis was carried out to estimate the price differential for shale gas at the wellhead compared to pipeline quality natural gas. 2013 American Chemical Society.