Cycle development and design for CO2 capture from flue gas by vacuum swing adsorption

Jun Zhang, Paul A Webley
Environmental Science & Technology 2008 January 15, 42 (2): 563-9
CO2 capture and storage is an important component in the development of clean power generation processes. One CO2 capture technology is gas-phase adsorption, specifically pressure (or vacuum) swing adsorption. The complexity of these processes makes evaluation and assessment of new adsorbents difficult and time-consuming. In this study, we have developed a simple model specifically targeted at CO2 capture by pressure swing adsorption and validated our model by comparison with data from a fully instrumented pilot-scale pressure swing adsorption process. The model captures nonisothermal effects as well as nonlinear adsorption and nitrogen coadsorption. Using the model and our apparatus, we have designed and studied a large number of cycles for CO2 capture. We demonstrate that by careful management of adsorption fronts and assembly of cycles based on understanding of the roles of individual steps, we are able to quickly assess the effect of adsorbents and process parameters on capture performance and identify optimal operating regimes and cycles. We recommend this approach in contrast to exhaustive parametric studies which tend to depend on specifics of the chosen cycle and adsorbent. We show that appropriate combinations of process steps can yield excellent process performance and demonstrate how the pressure drop, and heat loss, etc. affect process performance through their effect on adsorption fronts and profiles. Finally, cyclic temperature profiles along the adsorption column can be readily used to infer concentration profiles-this has proved to be a very useful tool in cyclic function definition. Our research reveals excellent promise for the application of pressure/vacuum swing adsorption technology in the arena of CO2 capture from flue gases.

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