LTX Unit Condensate Stabilizer

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It should be clear from the description of LTX units that the lower pressure separator in an LTX unit is a simple form of cold-feed condensate stabilizer. In the cold, upper portion of the separator some of the intermediate hydrocarbon components condense. In the hot, lower portion some of the lighter components flash.

An LTX unit is not a very efficient stabilizer because the absence of trays or packing keeps the two phases from approaching equilibrium at the various temperatures that exist in the vessel. In addition, it is difficult to control the process. Typically, for a 100-psi to 200-psi operating pressure, a 300°F to 400°F bottoms temperature is required to stabilize completely the condensate. The heating coil in an LTX separator is more likely to be in the range of 125°F to 175°F, and thus complete stabilization will not occur even if the flash were capable of reaching equilibrium.

There may be some additional recovery from an LTX unit than would be realized from a straight two-stage flash separation process, but this increment is normally small and may not justify the increased equipment cost and operating complexity associated with an LTX unit.

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