Thursday, January 30, 2014

Design of Sour Water Stripping Systems


Among the vital units in a refinery is the Sulfur Recovery Unit, where elemental sulfur is recovered from gaseous hydrogen sulfide. Part of the Sulfur Recovery Unit is the Sour Water Stripping Section which would treat sour water coming from various sources around the refinery.

Sour water is basically waste water which contains H2S and NH3 and sometimes phenol which can be treated by stripping in a Sour Water Stripper to remove the H2S and NH3 content (or phenol) so that the water can be reused, further treated or discarded to sewerage if it met the required quality.

In this paper, the general approach to the design of sour water stripping section is described which involves process simulation, design and operating conditions map preparation, material selection diagram preparation, flash drum, feed tank and stripper sizing, tray and heat exchanger rating, hydraulic calculations and pump design.

As sour water treatment is very important in every refinery, it is desirable to come up with an optimal design of sour water stripping systems.


1. Beychock, Milton R. (1967) Aqueous Wastes from Petroleum and Petrochemical Plants, England: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
2. Branan, Carl (2005) Rules of Thumb for Chemical Engineers. 4th Ed. USA: Elsevier.
3. Kister, Henry Z. (1990) Distillation Operation. USA: McGraw-Hill.
4. Lieberman, Norman P. And Elizabeth T. Lieberman (2003) Working Guide to Process Equipment, 2nd Ed. USA: McGraw-Hill.

This was when I presented my paper before my fellow chemical engineers. It was a magnificent experience to share to them my design experiences and learnings.

After the conference, I managed to take this picture with the panoramic Davao Gulf as background. This is at the back of Waterfront Insular Hotel. The "floating" cottage that you can see is the Pirata Bar. Tourists who are going to the Pearl Farm or Samal Island would board the boat at the end of the pier. This gulf is among the best spots in Davao City. You could have an imposing view of this gulf from Marco Polo Hotel just in downtown Davao.

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