THERMAL SCIENCE

International Scientific Journal

NATURAL GAS TURBO-EXPANDER SYSTEMS: A DYNAMIC SIMULATION MODEL FOR ENERGY AND ECONOMIC ANALYSES

ABSTRACT
Natural gas is typically transported for long distances through high pressure pipelines. Such pressure must be reduced before the gas distribution to users. The natural gas lamination process, traditionally adopted for this scope, may determine hydrate formation which may damagingly affect the system operation. Therefore, in order to avoid such circumstance, a suitable gas preheating is required. On the other hand, the available pressure drop can be recovered through a turbo-expansion system in order to provide mechanical energy to drive electricity generators. In this case a higher gas preheating is necessary. This paper presents a detailed simulation model capable to accurately analyse this process as well as the traditional decompression one. Such new model, implemented in a computer tool written in MATLAB, allows one to dynamically assess the energy, economic and environmental performance of these systems, by also taking into account hourly energy prices and weather conditions. Two turbo-expansion system layouts are modelled and simulated. In particular, the gas preheating is obtained by considering two different scenarios: gas-fired heater or solar thermal collectors. Another novelty of the presented dynamic simulation tool is the capability to take into account the time fluctuations of electricity feed-in and purchase tariffs. Finally, a suitable case study relative to a gas decompression station located in South Italy is also presented. Here, a remarkable primary energy savings and avoided CO2 emissions can be obtained through the examined turbo-expansion systems vs. traditional decompression ones. Results show that the economic profitability of the investigated novel technology depends on the available gas pressure drops and flow rates and on the produced electricity use.
KEYWORDS
PAPER SUBMITTED: 2018-01-09
PAPER REVISED: 2018-03-12
PAPER ACCEPTED: 2018-03-13
PUBLISHED ONLINE: 2018-09-29
DOI REFERENCE: https://doi.org/10.2298/TSCI180109276B
CITATION EXPORT: view in browser or download as text file
THERMAL SCIENCE YEAR 2018, VOLUME 22, ISSUE 5, PAGES [2215 - 2233]
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© 2018 Society of Thermal Engineers of Serbia. Published by the Vinča Institute of Nuclear Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International licence