Vacuum Swing Adsorption

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Vacuum Swing Adsorption

What is Vacuum Swing Adsorption?

Vacuum Swing Adsorption or "VSA" is a gas separation technology that separates gases without the use of a cryogenic plant or another gas separation technology called  pressure swing adsorption or "PSA."

Using special solids within the VSA plant called adsorbents, the Vacuum Swing Adsorption process segregates certain gases from a gaseous mixture under minimal pressure according to the species' molecular characteristics and affinity for the adsorbents. The primary adsorbents are called zeolites.  Zeolites are a Zeolites are a group of hydrous aluminum silicate minerals whose molecules enclose "cations" of calcium, potassium, sodium, strontium, or barium, or a similar synthetic compound that are used as molecular filters and ion-exchange agents that forms a molecular sieve and adsorb the target gas at or near ambient pressure. After the adsorbent in one vessel is fully adsorbed, the process then "swings" to a vacuum which regenerates the zeolite or adsorbent material. 

Vacuum Swing Adsorption differs from cryogenic plant distillation techniques of gas separation and pressure swing adsorption (PSA) techniques due to the fact that it operates at near-ambient temperatures and pressures.


Vacuum Swing Adsorption

Biogas Processing  *  Biomethane  *  Desulfurization  *  Gas Dehydration  *  Gas Processing  *  H2S Removal

Helium Recovery  *  Net Zero Energy  *  Pressure Swing Adsorption  *  Waste Heat Recovery

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What is Pressure Swing Adsorption?

Pressure Swing Adsorption, or PSA - provides for significant improvement and efficiencies in the recovery of hydrocarbons from a mixture of natural gas or process gases.

The advantages of a Pressure Swing Adsorption plants are the high enrichment of CH4 (more than 97%) and the reduced emissions levels and reductions in waste. Next to that, the carbon molecular sieves also adsorb N2 and O2. 

The one disadvantage of Pressure Swing Adsorption plants is the fact that H2S needs to be removed.

Advantages of Vacuum Swing Adsorption over Pressure Swing Adsorption

There are significant advantages of Vacuum Swing Adsorption over Pressure Swing Adsorption.  These advantages include; 

Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants use an integrated rotary lobe blower which also serves as a vacuum regenerator resulting in lower feed pressures. The significantly lower pressure swings in the Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants and therefore eliminates the need for a feed air compressor which is used in Pressure Swing Adsorption plants.  Because of this, Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants have far lower power requirements and consumption resulting in lower energy expenses - with energy expenses about 50% lower than Pressure Swing Adsorption plants. 

Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants' low pressure air input into the adsorber vessel (with the zeolite adsorbent) in combination with the high efficiency of the vacuum applied during the desorption stage means that only one adsorption vessel is required.

Compared with typical Pressure Swing Adsorption plants, which require feed air compressors (for generating the much higher pressures required with PSA) as well as process valves and associated dryers and feed air filtering systems, this single-vessel approach with Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants eliminates many of the design problems associated with Pressure Swing Adsorption plants.

Maintenance issues typically associated with Pressure Swing Adsorption plants are greatly reduced with Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants. 

Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants are less susceptible to "sieve dusting" found in PSA plants because the pressure swings are much lower with Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants.  The lower operating pressures of Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants also eliminate any water condensate - another problem found with PSA plants. 

Unlike Pressure Swing Adsorption plants, Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants are not as susceptible to humid environments.  

Pressure Swing Adsorption plants feed compressors require both oil and water removal equipment hardware and Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants do not.

The previously-mentioned rotary lobe blower is a rotary device that does not require the high level of routine maintenance typical of the air compressors needed by Pressure Swing Adsorption plants. 

Vacuum Swing Adsorption plants use of a vacuum step provides a superior regeneration of the molecular sieve, thus extending sieve life.

Overall, the Vacuum Swing Adsorption plant's adsorber vessel has a much longer service life than the adsorber vessels found in PSA vessels which require re-packing of sieve material every 3-5 years.


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