As discussions around environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores continue to grow, the fractionation industry is seeking increased opportunity for initiatives focused on sustainability, cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. New technologies for the midstream market must be developed to help meet these rising ESG demands in the oil and gas industry, which is why we have developed, designed and built the first dividing wall column (DWC) in the natural gas liquid (NGL) fractionation industry.
With our state-of-the-art dividing wall column technology, the traditional four tower fractionation design becomes obsolete and is condensed into a three-tower system yielding the same five purity products: propane, ethane, butane, isobutane, and natural gasoline.
Utilizing DWC technology in the NGL fractionation market is a game changer. The cost, energy and emission efficiencies gained are invaluable, especially with the current state of the oil and gas industry. Projects are receiving greater scrutiny and have taller hurdles now more than ever. Additionally, it can be difficult to implement change in the midstream market. But our innovative, patented DWC design offers a handful of benefits that makes its adoption worthwhile:
- Sustainability and environmental friendliness — Compared to the average fractionation process, the DWC technology offers lower carbon emissions. This can lead to an easier permitting process. The DWC also uses less energy and reduces the amount of land required to build a fractionator. A smarter flowsheet for a more environmentally sustainable solution, while maintaining the same product make, is a big win for the industry.
- Cost-efficiency — Not only does having one fewer tower reduce operational costs for the fractionator after it is built, but the DWC also offers the ability to reduce capital costs. When a traditional fractionator is constructed, on-site work includes driving piles, pouring foundations, setting equipment, connecting and welding the piping, and more. With the DWC solution, 25% of that work inside battery limits (ISBL) and a large amount of capital is removed due to one less tower in the equation. Our project experience has proven that the use of a DWC can provide substantial capital and operational cost savings over traditional designs.
- Reduced footprint — Many fractionators are built on land that is conducive to the project. Over time, the amount of space available for new builds decreases, making it harder to secure the most viable location. With the DWC, the reduced space required to build, in addition to fewer quantities of piping and equipment, can help reduce the footprint of the project.
DWC Already Producing Positive Results
When a midstream company required a new NGL fractionation train at its facility, we suggested using our DWC technology that would help save money while also providing a sustainable solution. The client saw value and opportunity in the plan and hired us as the engineer-procure-construct (EPC) provider for the project.
Upon its completion, the new plant is designed to process 125,000 barrels per day of Y-grade feed. Additionally, the innovative DWC method proved to be successful in lowering capital costs and providing significant operational and utility savings after startup.
A Game Changer
The DWC fractionator technology can be customized and scaled for a wide variety of throughput requirements. From lower carbon emissions and lower capital costs to greater operational efficiencies, the DWC solution can help create many opportunities for the midstream oil and gas market.
Learn more about the benefits and efficiencies DWCs bring to the process industries.