New chemical pathways, catalysts, and renewable power get a lot of attention in the conversation around shrinking the climate and energy footprint of heavy industry. But thoughtful chemical engineering has a lot to offer as well, especially process integration and intensification. Equipment like this industrial-sized heat exchanger can help a chemical factory squeeze more work out of every bit of heat energy, reducing the total amount of fuel needed. This unit will fit inside a scrubbing tower that uses aqueous amines to separate CO2 from N2 and helium in a gas stream coming from deep geological deposits in Canada. All three gases have economic value, but the helium is the main draw for this $25 million plant by Royal Helium, which will continue to purify the noble gas till it reaches “five nines,” 99.999% pure.
Credit: Royal Helium
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