Linde Engineering and BASF have developed a new process that combines treatment of natural gas for pipeline transportation with the simultaneous recovery of helium, liquid hydrocarbons, and purified carbon dioxide (CO2).

Source: Linde

A Linde high-efficient membrane plant

Helium is commonly recovered from natural gas when a cryogenic separation is employed. The hybrid process eliminates the need for cryogenic conditions, giving access to a new highly profitable helium source. 

The process consists of two stages of Linde’s HISELECT® Powered by Evonik membranes, an upstream BASF Durasorb™ hydrocarbon removal unit (HRU), an integrated BASF OASE® acid gas removal unit (AGRU) and an integrated Linde Helium PSA (pressure-swing adsorption) unit.

The two HISELECT® membrane stages are simultaneously used for helium enrichment and adjustment of CO2 to pipeline specification. The Linde Helium PSA purifies the enriched helium up to 99.999% with highest yield. BASF’s OASE® AGRU is used to selectively remove the CO2 from an internal recycle without any helium or methane loss. BASF’s Durasorb HRU removes heavy hydrocarbons and water to meet pipeline dew point, produce liquid hydrocarbons as valuable by-product and to ensure high membrane performance.

The combination of these technologies allows for optimisation of performance and the generation of additional value streams from the gas treating process. A project utilising this approach will generate additional revenue, resulting in a high ROI and short payback period.

“The newly developed process changes project economics and helps our customers to generate additional value. As an additional high value stream can be generated, we’ll see more projects move forward,” said Detlef Ruff, Senior Vice President Process Catalysts at Germany-based BASF.

“It is exciting to see how the combination of technology from three leading companies result in such a unique, efficient and sustainable process,“ says Tobias Keller, Head of Linde Engineering’s Adsorption and Membrane Plants.

There will be a joint presentation by Linde and BASF during the Gastech conference in Houston on September 17-19.