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Temperature Peak Analysis and Its Effect on Absorption Column for CO2 Capture Process at Different Operating Conditions

Harith Rashid, Nurul Hasan and M. Iskandar Mohamad Nor


The role of temperature is important in CO2 capture processes. Unfortunately, detailed analysis on the temperature profile of the absorption column is scarce in the literature. Important factors like CO2 capture capacity and corrosion rate directly depend on temperature of the column. Many side reactions such as solvent degradation, formation of stable salts, corrosion and reduction in CO2 capture are prominent at a higher temperature. This study reports a broad study on the temperature profile for CO2 capture process based on a detailed mathematical model, Kent–Eisenberg vapor–liquid equilibrium (VLE) model. This model is quite accurate in calculating CO2 capture for any specific operating condition. Results produced from Kent–Eisenberg VLE model are consistent with experimental data. This study reports temperature profiles of an absorption column for different operating conditions. Moreover, it was found that CO2 absorption is more effective at low and ambient temperatures than at high temperature confirmed by a peak temperature in all cases and in the lower section of the column, which is attributed to exothermic CO2 absorption in monoethanolamine. This temperature variation of the column will be helpful in designing CO2 capture plants.



effective mass-transfer area (m2/m3)


interfacial mass-transfer area (m2/m3)


molar concentration (mol/m3)


specific heat capacity (J/mol K)


diffusivity of component i (m2/s)


activation energy (J/mol)


hold-up (m3/m3)


reaction heat (J/mol)


vaporization/condensation heat (J/kmol)


volumetric flow rate (m3/s)


heat-transfer coefficient (J/m3 K s)


pre-exponential function (m3/mol s)


heat-transfer coefficient (J/m2 K s)


molecular weight (g/mol)


interfacial molar flux (mol/m2 s)


Reynolds number


reaction rate of reaction j (mol/m3 s)


column’s cross-sectional area (m2)


source of heat in the system (J/m3 s)


temperature (K)


time (s)


velocity in x direction (m/s)


velocity in y direction (m/s)


velocity in z direction (m/s)


axial column coordinates


density (kg/m3)




gas phase


liquid phase


CO2, MEA and H2O


no. of stages in absorption column


heat transfer by convection


heat transfer by vaporization


heat of reaction


Mass-transfer area

Eq. (8) represents the correlation for calculating the mass-transfer area in the column [32].


where ae (m2/m3) and au (m2/m3) are effective mass-transfer area and interfacial area of the packing used, respectively. Re is the Reynolds number of liquid. This expression is used to calculate the interfacial area.

Heat balance equation in the liquid phase is given as


This is a three-dimensional energy-transfer equation, which is used for heat balance of different processes. ρL is the density of liquid, cp,L is the specific heat of the liquid phase, ux,L is the velocity in x direction, vy,L is the velocity of liquid in y direction, wz,L is the velocity of liquid in z direction, and TL is temperature of the liquid phase. Unit for the left-hand side of the above equation is calculated out to be W/m3. Therefore, to make the units consistent, all the terms in eq. (9) should have the same units including the source term S. The source term includes Sc,L, for heat transfer through convection in the liquid phase, Sr,L, for heat of reaction and Sv,L, for heat of vaporization or condensation. Therefore, the modified form of eq. (9) becomes


It is important to note that the unit of all the terms in eq. (10) should be equal to W/m3. For one-dimensional analysis, eq. (10) can be reduced to the following form:


According to law, heat transfer by convection is given as:


where h (W/m2 K) is heat-transfer coefficient, au (m2/m3) is interfacial area, and TG and TL represent temperature for liquid and gas phase, respectively. However, heat of reaction for CO2 absorption in aqueous amine solution is generalized with the standard expression for exothermic heat of reaction as:


where minus sign in eq. (13) represents exothermic reaction between CO2 and MEA. NR (mol/m3 s) is the number of reactants, reacting per second and ΔRH is heat of reaction in J/mol.

Similarly, expression for heat of vaporization or condensation for all the components is given as follows:


where au (m2/m3) represents interfacial area between liquid and gas as vaporization and condensation takes place on the interface, N (mol/m2 s) is molar flux, and Δv,iH (J/mol) represents heat of vaporization or condensation. However, there are three components such as CO2, MEA and H2O. So, eq. (14) is modified as a sum of all the components as:


Heat of vaporization for all the components is summarized in eq. (15). Now, eq. (11) can be modified by adding all the terms for heat transfer and also neglecting KL for the liquid phase as its value is very less in this case. Therefore, heat balance for the liquid phase can be modified dividing both sides with ρLcp,L to separate the temperature, and the new form of the equation is given as:


Eq. (16) is the expression for heat balance in the liquid phase.

Heat balance in gas phase

Heat balance in gas phase is obtained by changing eq. (10) as:


For the gas phase, there is no vaporization, so Sv,L = 0, and it is also assumed that there is no reaction taking place in the gas phase, Sr,L = 0. Similarly, KG for gas phase is very low, so it is also neglected in heat balance expression for gas phase. Eq. (17) is modified by these assumptions as:


Now, heat transfer by convection in gas phase is given as:


Eq. (18) is modified by adding the term for convective heat transfer from eq. (19) and dividing both sides of the equation with ρLcp,L to get the equation with temperature term as:


Eq. (20) is heat balance equation for gas phase in CO2 absorption process.

Stage efficiency of absorber

For a vapor–liquid separation process, considering that both liquid and gas streams are interacting at the interface [32]. Murphree’s plate efficiency for component i on stage j of the column is given as:


Eq. (21) represents Murphree’s plate efficiency for equilibrium stage. However, for non-equilibrium stage, gas flow rate FG is introduced into the correlation for Murphree’s plate efficiency. So, eq. (21) is modified in a new form as follows:


where yi,j in eq. (22) represents the composition of molecular concentration of different components leaving the stage j at equilibrium.

Liquid loading packing factor for gas and liquid

Liquid loading gas factors for liquid and gas streams represented as Gfz and Lfz (kg/m2 s) are calculated by using eqs (23) and (24), respectively, as follows:


where G′ and L′ are gas and liquid mass velocity (kg/m2 s), respectively, ρG and ρG (kg/m3) are mass density for gas and liquid streams, respectively, and µL is viscosity of liquid (kg/m s) [32].

Pressure drop on each stage

The total pressure drop for each stage along the column is calculated using eq. (25) [32]:



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Published Online: 2014-4-29
Published in Print: 2014-12-1

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