American Filtration & Separations Society (AFS)

Novel Filtration Design Leads to Amine Process Success


For natural gas processing plants, amine scrubbing is a common unit process that relies heavily on filtration and separation technology. It is well documented that solid contaminants contribute to process challenges such as corrosion, erosion, fouling and foaming. Therefore, the operational stability of gas “sweetening” plants is largely dependent on the mitigation of contaminants.

Operators understand the high cost of inefficient filtration. They recognize that low efficiency filtration units and undersized filtration systems both lead to frequent and prolonged process upsets, repeated filter change-outs, and higher process-related operating costs.  Additionally, frequent filter change-outs result in higher direct consumable costs as well as indirect costs related to safety, labor, inventory and disposal. For a growing number of operators, the Invicta™ filter and vessel system from FTC has provided a dramatic positive impact on the status quo of amine process filtration.

The Big Picture for Filtration in Gas Treating

From string wound filters to modern absolute-rated pleated media cartridges, the filtration industry has improved its offerings to customers over the years. However, operators still face one persistent challenge: the need for reliable, high efficiency, operator friendly filtration with minimal change-outs, manageable consumable costs, and the smallest possible footprint.

Operators recognize the hidden costs associated with poor amine health: prolonged upsets, inefficient stripping in the absorber, loss of solvent to foaming incidents, downtime due to fouling of equipment and overall operator safety.

Operator safety and related costs provide just one example. With high concentrations of H2S typically found on rich amine streams, operators must comply with the full range of safety regulations governing JSA, PPE and associated documentation for every change-out operation. With these safety costs adding to other operational costs, effective filter life is now an extremely important metric for operators.

FTC Invicta™ – A Case in Point

A gas processing operator in the Permian Basin recently mentioned that the quality of filtration delivered by FTC’s Clarify 250 filters was excellent, but that the frequency of change-outs was putting a strain on the plant.  On one amine train, the operator ran four filter vessels, each holding 59 2.5” OD x 40” cartridges.

Invicta™ was proposed as an option, requiring only a simple retrofit to the existing filter vessel, easily completed for all four vessels over the course of two days (approximately two hours per vessel). The operator gained 84% more effective media filtration surface area per vessel over the previous configuration with only 15 Invicta™ cartridges replacing the 59 cylindrical cartridge filters previously in use.

Upon startup, the operator was pleased to note effluent quality was as previously experienced and that down time requirements after Invicta™ were dramatically lower. Before, the operator had been changing filters once a week. Following the installation of Invicta™ filters, the facility sees run times of four to five weeks and longer. Additionally, the ease of change-out with Invicta™ filters has lowered indirect costs.

With Invicta™ filters, the operator enjoys both top-line and bottom-line cost savings and has reported only positive results from the change. Currently, FTC is beginning work to retrofit the remaining amine sweetening trains at the facility.

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