Mitigating an increase of specific power consumption in a cryogenic air separation unit at reduced oxygen production
Specific power consumed in a Linde double column air separation unit (ASU) increases as the quantity of oxygen produced at a given purity is decreased due to the changes of system requirement or market demand. As the plant operates in part load condition, the specific power consumption (SPC) increases as the total power consumption remains the same. In order to mitigate the increase of SPC at lower oxygen production, the operating pressure of high pressure column (HPC) can be lowered by extending the low pressure column (LPC) by a few trays and adding a second reboiler. As the duty of second reboiler in LPC is increased, the recovery of oxygen decreases with a lowering of the HPC pressure. This results in mitigation of the increase of SPC of the plant. A Medium pressure ASU with dual reboiler that produces pressurised gaseous and liquid products of oxygen and nitrogen is simulated in Aspen Hysys 8.6®, a commercial process simulator to determine SPC at varying oxygen production. The effects of reduced pressure of air feed into the cold box on the size of heat exchangers (HX) are analysed. Operation strategy to obtain various oxygen production rates at varying demand is also proposed.