A new strategy for selecting and evaluating physical solvents for gas absorption

  • N.S. Baker

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This work describes how the physical properties of a solvent affect the design variables of a physical gas absorption process. The role of every property in determining the capital and the running cost of a process has been specified. Direct mathematical relationships have been formulated between every item of capital or running cost and the properties which are related to that item. The accuracy of the equations formulated has been checked by comparing their outcome with some actual design data. A good agreement has been found. The equations formulated may be used to evaluate on the basis of economics any suggested new solvents.
A group of solvents were selected for evaluation. Their physical properties were estimated or collected as experimental data. The selected ones include three important solvents, the first is polyethylene glycol dimethyl ether (Selexol) which represents the currently most successful one, The other two solvents are acetonyl acetone (B2) and n-formyl morpholine which have been suggested previously as potential credible alternatives to the current ones. The important characteristics of: acetonyl acetone are its high solubility and its low viscosity, while the n-formyl morpholine is characterised by its low vapour pressure and its high selectivity. It was found that acetonyl acetone (B2) is the most attractive solvent for commercial applications particularly for process configurations that:include heat exchangers and strippers.
The effect of the process configuration on the selected solvent was investigated in detail and it was found that there is no universal solvent which is the best for any process configuration, but that there is a best solvent for a given process configuration.
In previous work, acetonyl acetone was suggested as a commercially promising physical solvent. That suggestion was not fully based on experimental measurement of all the physical properties. The viscosity of acetonyl acetone and its solubility at 1 atm were measured but the vapour pressure and the solubility of C02 and CH4 at high pressure were predicted. In this work, the solubilities of C02, CH4 and C3H8 in acetenyl acetone were measured for a partial pressure range of (2 ~ 22) bar at 25°C, The vapour pressure of this solvent was also measured, and the Antoine equation was formulated from tbe experimental data.
The experimental data were found to be not In agreement with the predicted ones, so acetonyl acetone was re-evaluated according to the experimental data. It was found that this solvent can be recommended for further trials in a pilot plant study or for small scale commercial units.

Date of AwardJan 1994
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorK.E. Porter (Supervisor)


  • acetonyl acetone (B2)
  • solvent evaluation
  • physical properties
  • carbon dioxide

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