Hollow fiber sorbents for the desulfurization of pipeline natural gas
Bhandari, Dhaval Ajit
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Pipeline natural gas is the primary fuel of choice for distributed fuel cell-based applications. The concentration of sulfur in odorized natural gas is about 30 ppm, with acceptable levels being <1 ppm for catalyst stability in such applications. Packed bed technology for desulfurization suffers from several disadvantages including high pressure drop and slow regeneration rates that require large unit sizes. We describe a novel Rapid Temperature Swing Adsorption (RTSA) system utilizing hollow fibers with polymer 'binder', impregnated with high loadings of sulfur selective sorbent 'fillers'. Steam and cooling water can be utilized to thermally swing the sorbent during the regeneration cycles. An impermeable, thin polymer barrier layer on the outside of fiber sorbents allows only thermal interactions with the regeneration media, thereby promoting consistent sorption capacity over repeated cycles. A simplified flow pattern minimizes pressure drop, porous core morphology maximizes sorption efficiencies, while small fiber dimensions allows for rapid thermal cycles.