Calgary firm launches new liquids extraction process

By Keefe Borden06 June 2022

A natural gas chiller, using propane refrigeration. (Photo: Gas Liquids Engineering.)

Calgary-based Gas Liquids Engineering has launched a license for a new energy-efficient process that removes propane and ethane from a gas streams. In some cases, the process can use 5-20% less energy than alternative processes, the company said.

“We are truly thrilled to offer SABR at this time to the natural gas processing industry”, said Gas Liquids Engineering Vice President Operations Stuart MacKenzie.  “In many cases, SABR can recover propane and ethane with lower energy use, and better turndown than the historically used deep-cut technologies.  Not only does this equate to significant reductions in CO2 emissions, it also lowers gas plant operating costs.”

SABR stands for “Split ABsorber Reflux,” which covers multiple variations of the process, intended for increased recovery of natural gas liquids (NGL) from natural gas, in a variety of applications.  Deep-cut extraction plants historically rely on a turboexpander to provide the cooling needed to deeply extract liquids from natural gas. 

The SABR process is unique, as it instead uses standard propane refrigeration, shell and tube heat exchangers and distillation to achieve propane or ethane recovery from natural gas of up to 99%.  The use of refrigeration allows the process to achieve very high recoveries even under turned-down operation, the company said.

As the outlet pressure of gas leaving the process is much higher than turboexpander based processes, the recompression requirements after processing are dramatically reduced, creating new opportunities for energy and emissions reductions.

Gas Liquids Engineering has begun offering licensing of SABR to natural gas producers, midstreamers, and gas plant equipment fabricators. Gas Liquids Engineering is a Calgary, Alberta, Canada based engineering firm specializing in natural gas and liquids processing, energy projects, and carbon capture and sequestration. 

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