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Sulfur Plant

Globally, legislators have imposed increasingly stringent standards on transportation fuels, such as motor gasoline, diesel/gasoil, and marine oils, for health and environmental reasons. Most countries are moving towards Euro-4 and -5 specifications, but some are also announcing plans to move to Euro-6 fuels in the coming years.

Currently, refinery hydrotreating capacity is expanding to meet more-stringent transportation fuel sulfur specifications. As a result of the additional sulfur waste gases that are produced, increased sulfur recovery unit (SRU) capacity is required. Also, stricter regulations are driving refineries to remove higher percentages of sulfur, which demands more investment. Furthermore, sulfur from vent gases, previously sent to the incinerator, may now have to be recovered to meet emissions targets. These gases are collected from the sulfur pit, the sulfur storage tank, and the truck loading rack. This study focuses on the three major components of sulfur recovery: acid gas removal systems, Claus units, and tailgas treatment units (TGTUs).

How it will benefit you

Sulfur is a byproduct in fuel production in refineries through it is a marketable product. For refiners, the primary goal of operating a sulfur plant to bolster unit productivity and reduce costs. Furthermore, sulfur recovery is relatively high energy intensity and is known to be a major GHG emitter in a refinery. Therefore, the benefits of the study are to help refiners assess the latest technology developments that focus on improving the energy efficiency of the acid gas removal unit, Claus unit, and tailgas treatment unit in order to lower operating costs as sulfur removal is done at a cost to the refiner and offers little back in terms of value, so minimizing costs is necessary to improve margins. Also, the study explores the latest innovations in combined H2S and CO2 removal to aid refinery decarbonization.

What does it include

The current study, completed in 1Q2020, begins with updated global sulfur supply and demand fundamentals and prices and new outlets for sulfur to deal with the impending global sulfur glut.

In addition to a comprehensive list of state-of-the-art technologies, recent innovations feature the new offerings by Axens (TG 107 S Claus tailgas treatment catalyst); C. Costello & Associates Inc. (AQUACLAUS II sulfur recovery technology); DuPont (Sennuba advanced steam plume suppression for use with its MECS DynaWave wet gas scrubbers); Frames (Laminol liquid redox process); Haldor Topsoe (TopClaus process that integrates Claus sulfur recovery technology and Topsoe's wet gas sulfur acid (WSA) process); John Zink Hamworthy Combustion (RMB burner technology for use in tailgas treatment unit incinerators); Linde (OXYMIX flowtrain automated measurement and control system for its Claus oxygen enrichment projects); LumaSense Technologies (E2T Pulsar 4 and E2T Pulsar 4 Advanced infrared (IR) thermometers for use in Claus reactors and furnaces); Rameshni & Associates Technology & Engineering (tailgas treating technologies: TG-RATE, TG-SMAX, and Super Enhanced Tail Gas Recovery (SETR); and also DEGAS-SMART and SuperDegas sulfur degasification technologies).

The study also includes extensive discussions of plant operations and practices that identify valuable operating experiences and daily trouble-shooting techniques shared by veteran refining professionals around the world. A recent key knowledge shows the use of a machine learning (ML)-based predictive maintenance solution for SRUs.

To plot future sulfur plant directions, the study gathers and reviews the latest patent applications and research papers regarding refinery sulfur plant technology, including simultaneous removal of CO2 and sulfur compounds in acid gas removal units; novel absorbent materials for acid gas removal; Claus processes with multiple reactors and/or reaction zones; tailgas treating processes for improving the rate of sulfur recovery; novel catalysts for both Claus and tailgas treating applications; sulfur degasification improvements; and more.

Finally, global installed capacity and recent construction activities are summarized in the study to track the growth of SRUs around the world.

Publication details

Publication frequency

Single publication

Publication format

Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file


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