H2S Removal – How Is It Done

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a chalcogen hydride gas which is known for its caustic and poisonous properties. It is easily identified by its pungent distinguishable smell of rotten eggs. The presence of hydrogen sulphide is an indication of a bacterial reaction that has taken place due to the anaerobic digestion of the organic components. This compound is found as a constituent in various gases, crude oil and water. Hydrogen sulphide gas removal techniques are extensively used in oil and gas industry to reduce the toxicity of the substance. It is extremely essential to mitigate the effects of hydrogen sulphide as it leads to health hazards and corrosion of equipment.

This article will shed some light on the effects of hydrogen sulphide and discuss some of the techniques to mitigate its effect predominantly used in the oil and gas industry.

Methods To Remove H2S From Gas And Oil

Hydrogen sulphide is not only a health hazard for human beings but it also leads to corrosion of pipes and equipment. It is also responsible for various environmental damages. This compound is generally found in mixtures having hydrocarbons and methane, together with some traces of oxygen and nitrogen which makes the extraction of hydrogen sulphide a bit challenging.

Nitrogen stripping is one of the methods which are used in the oil industry to remove H2S. The presence of an inert gas like nitrogen reduces the risk of explosion of inflammable gases. This process helps in dissolution of oxygen into water and subsequent diffusion of the dissolved oxygen into a gaseous phase. After the extraction of H2S from crude oil, the gas is then flared to convert it into a harmless compound. This method takes up a lot of time and requires a lot of power and energy to complete the process.

Membrane technology is used for the removal of hydrogen sulphide in the oil and gas industry where the gases, which are in a compressed form, are passed through polymer membranes. This helps in the removal of certain gaseous compounds which aids in the disintegration of hydrogen sulphide.

Chemical treatment involves absorption of hydrogen sulphide by certain additives like alkanolamine, triazine, ammonia solution, aldehyde and alkaline salt solutions. These compounds are popularly known as hydrogen sulphide scavengers which are used in oil and gas extraction equipment to remove hydrogen sulphide from the sour gas.

Some oil and gas industries use the desulphurization process to mitigate the effect of hydrogen sulphide during the gas extraction or conversion processes. Desulphurization, as the name suggests, helps in eliminating the presence of sulphur-based compounds from the oil and gas streams through the Contact process or Claus process. The Claus process helps in eliminating or extracting sulphur from hydrogen sulphide which is present in natural gases and by-products of crude oil. The main process involves combustion of natural gases or by-product gases at a temperature of 850 degrees Celsius during which the sulphur evaporates thereby disintegrating the compound of hydrogen sulphide.

Contact process helps in eliminating hydrogen sulphide by oxidizing it at a high temperature and in the presence of less oxygen thereby producing sulphur and water. This sulphur is then converted into sulphuric acid thereby removing hydrogen sulphide in the process.

There are physical, chemical and biological ways of removal of H2S. The physical method involves nitrogen stripping and the chemical method involves treatment with H2S scavenger compounds and desulphurization process. These processes are commonly used in crude oil and natural gas processing plants.

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