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6.2. Syngas Contaminant Removal and Conditioning

Raw synthesis gas (syngas) from the high temperature gas cooling (HTGC) system needs to be cleaned to remove contaminants including fine particulates, sulfur, ammonia, chlorides, mercury, and other trace heavy metals to meet environmental emission regulations, as well as to protect downstream processes. In the case of carbon sequestration, carbon dioxide (CO2) is also removed. Depending on the application, syngas may need to be conditioned to adjust the hydrogen-to-carbon monoxide (H2-to-CO) ratio to meet downstream process requirement. In applications where very low sulfur (<10 ppmv) syngas is required, converting carbonyl sulfide (COS) to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) before sulfur removal may also be needed. Typical cleanup and conditioning processes include cyclone and filters for bulk particulates removal; wet scrubbing to remove fine particulates, ammonia and chlorides; solid absorbents for mercury and trace heavy metal removal; water gas shift (WGS) for H2-to-CO ratio adjustment; catalytic hydrolysis for converting COS to H2S; and acid gas removal (AGR) for extracting sulfur-bearing gases and CO2 removal.

Fine Particulate Removal 
Raw syngas leaving the HTGC system in today's commercial gasification plant is normally quenched and scrubbed with water in a trayed column for fine char and ash particulate removal prior to recycle to the slurry-fed gasifiers. For dry feed gasification, cyclones and candle filters are used to recover most of the fine particulate for recycle to the gasifiers before final cleanup with water quenching and scrubbing. In addition, fine particulates, chlorides, ammonia, some H2S, and other trace contaminants are also removed from the syngas during the scrubbing process. The scrubbed gas is then either reheated for COS hydrolysis and/or a sour WGS when required, or cooled in the low temperature gas cooling (LTGC) system by generating low pressure steam, preheating boiler feed water, and heat exchanging it against cooling water before further processing.

Spent water from the scrubber column is directed to the sour water treatment system, where it is depressurized and decanted in a gravity settler to remove fine particulates. Solid-concentrated underflows from the settler bottom are filtered to recover the fine particulate as the filter cake, which is then either discarded or recycled to the gasifier depending on its carbon content. Water from the settler is recycled for gasification uses with the excess being sent to the wastewater treatment system for disposal.

Mercury and Trace Elements
Current commercial practice is to pass cooled syngas from LTGC through sulfided, activated carbon beds to remove over 90% of the mercury and a significant amount of other heavy metal contaminants. Due to the sulfur in the activated carbon, these beds are normally placed ahead of the AGR system to minimize the possibility of sulfur slipping back into and contaminating the cleaned syngas.

Newer regulations are demanding increased levels of mercury reduction as well as that of other toxic species present in syngas, which may require increasing sophistication in technology to remove these contaminants. 

Syngas Cleanup


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