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J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122
Elemental sulphur deposition in natural gas transmission
and distribution networks
Pierre C ezac
a
, Jean-Paul Serin
a,
, Jean-Michel Reneaume
a
,
Jacques Mercadier
a
, G erard Mouton
b
a
Laboratoire de Thermique, Energ etique et Proc ed es, Ecole Nationale Sup erieure en G enie des Technologies Industrielle, Universit e de Pau et des Pays de
lAdour, BP 7511, 64075 Pau Cedex, France
b
Total Infrastructures Gaz France, Direction Op erations, Services Supports Techniques-M ethodes,7 rue de la Lini` ere, 64140 Bill` ere, France
Received 25 April 2007; received in revised form 8 November 2007; accepted 9 November 2007
Abstract
Deposition of elemental sulphur in natural gas transmission line systems has been reported on only in recent times. The most common location
is immediately downstream of a point of signicant pressure reduction. A necessary step to eliminate solid sulphur deposition is to understand
the deposit mechanism. Two mechanisms appear possible: condensate formation and desublimation of sulphur vapours. To study the plausible
paths of solid sulphur formation, we established a thermodynamic model. The constitutive equations are classically the chemical and physical
equilibriums, partial mass balances and energy balance. We chose the Peng Robinson equation of state to describe the phase behaviour. Mixing rules
are conventional: quadratic for a and linear for b with one binary interaction coefcient. Desublimation seems to be the most plausible mechanism
to explain the solid sulphur formation. Pressure reduction implies temperature reduction, which reinforces solid formation. A solution to minimize
the solid sulphur deposition seems to be heating the gas stream immediately before pressure reduction.
2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Modelling; Solidgas equilibrium; Natural gas; Sulphur; Pressure drop
1. Introduction
Sour gas is a natural gas that contains hydrogen sulphide
(H
2
S). Deposition of sulphur during sour gas wells exploita-
tion is a problem that was recognized several decades ago.
Hyne [1] showed the difculty to establish a yardstick of gen-
eral applicability to explain sulphur deposition. He reached the
conclusion that no single factor can be used to predict or ratio-
nalize deposit. Thus, he proposed various factors, which could
act on sulphur deposition in sour gas wells like the composi-
tion or the gradient of temperature and the pressure between
the bottom and the head of the well. Occurrence of sulphur
deposits in natural gas transmission facilities has recently been
observed. Chesnoy and Pack [2] described sulphur deposit for-
mation in a nozzle placed in a line connected to a natural gas
pipeline. Wilkes and Pareek [3] observed sulphur deposits near
the control valves of a gas turbine. Pack [4] studied natural gas

Corresponding author. Tel.: +33 5 59 40 78 31.


E-mail address: jean-paul.serin@univ-pau.fr (J.-P. Serin).
transportation and listed the most common places where this
phenomenon occurs. It appears that the most common location
is immediately downstreamof a pressure reduction facility. This
deposition can have serious consequences for pipeline operators.
For instance, sulphur deposit can be observed around pressure
control valves and then affect the stem movement or plug the
valve orice. Solid sulphur can also modify the accuracy of ow
meters, Chesnoy and Pack [2] reported that the deposit can intro-
duce a measurement error of up to 2% and in some cases even
more. A necessary step to eliminate solid sulphur deposition
is to understand the deposit mechanism. The aim of this study
is to contribute to a better comprehension of the mechanisms
involved.
2. Solid sulphur deposition theories
Three potential deposition mechanisms have been consid-
ered: chemical reaction, condensate formation and desubli-
mation of sulphur. Each could interact with one or several
others.
0896-8446/$ see front matter 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.supu.2007.11.005
116 P. C ezac et al. / J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122
Nomenclature
a attractive parameter in cubic EOS (m
3
mol
1
)
2
b covolume in cubic EOS (m
3
mol
1
)
c
p
heat capacity (J mol
1
K
1
)
f fugacity (Pa)
H enthalpy (J)
k
ij
binary interaction coefcient for the parameter a
K equilibrium constant
n molar ow (mol s
1
)
P pressure (MPa)
P
a
atmospheric pressure (0.101325 MPa)
P

standard pressure (0.1 MPa)


R ideal gas constant (8.314 J mol
1
K
1
)
T temperature (K)
v molar volume (m
3
mol
1
)
x liquid composition
y vapour composition
z molar composition
Z compressibility factor
Greek letters
H enthalpy of phase change (J mol
1
)
product over all species
fugacity coefcient
stoichiometric coefcient
acentric factor
reaction extent (mol s
1
)
Superscript
relative to orthorhombic sulphur (solid form)
relative to monoclinic sulphur (solid form)
f fusion property
GP ideal gas state property
Inlet relative to the inow
L liquid property
Outlet relative to the outow
res residual property
S solid property
sat saturation property
sub sublimation property
V vapour property or vaporization property
tr solid/solid transition property

standard state
* pure state
2.1. Chemical reaction
Chesnoy and Pack [2] and Pack [4] listed several potential
chemical reactions producing solid sulphur. For instance they
proposed the following reactions:
2H
2
S(g) + O
2
(g) 2S(s) + 2H
2
O(g) (1)
C
6
H
6
(g) + 4H
2
S(g) C
6
H
14
(g) + 4S(s) (2)
Studies on this eld are far from numerous and no experi-
mental data is available. This theory does not suit the physical
location of the deposit: the solid sulphur deposition appears
immediately downstream of a pressure reduction facility.
Indeed, it seems surprising that this reaction does not occur ear-
lier in the pipeline. Moreover, if solid elemental sulphur is the
product of a chemical reaction, this reaction should be very fast.
In fact, the gas velocity is close to 10 ms
1
in the network and
could reach mach 1 inside pressure reduction facilities [4]. Con-
sequently the residence time is extremely short, i.e. lower than
0.01 s ina gas expander. Finally, pressure reductioninnatural gas
transmission systems involves a temperature reduction, which
generally does not favour chemical reactions.
2.2. Condensate
Wilkes and Pareek [3] identied condensate formation as a
potential cause of the deposit formation. As shown in Fig. 1,
liquid hydrocarbons can appear with pressure reduction. The
natural gas compositions are given in Table 1. The liquid hydro-
carbons can dissolve a part of the vapour sulphur and then
remove it from the gas. Evaporation of the condensed liquids
might lead to the deposition of sulphur particles. This forma-
tion hypothesis matches the physical location of the deposit, i.e.
downstream of a pressure reduction facility.
2.3. Desublimation
The most common location for elemental sulphur deposition
in natural gas transmission pipelines is immediately downstream
of a point of pressure reduction [3,4]. Thus, the pressure drop
appears to be an important parameter of the sulphur deposition
mechanism. Moreover, a pressure drop leads to a temperature
reduction. So, the change of both temperature and pressure con-
ditions can result in a supersaturated state for sulphur. Because
the temperature is below the temperature of the triple point
(95.5

C [5]) of sulphur, the excess of vapour sulphur changes


directly to solid state. The sulphur desublimation hypothesis is
therefore in agreement with the physical location of the solid
deposition observed.
2.4. Conclusion on solid sulphur deposition theories
As indicated before, the particular place of the deposit, the
short residence time andthe decrease intemperature indicate that
Table 1
Molar compositions (%) of the natural gases studied
Gas A Gas B Gas C Gas D Gas E Gas F
CO
2
-rich gas H
2
S-rich gas
CH
4
90.69 96.79 82.73 83.92 86.79 90.69
C
2
H
6
7.88 2.21 12.2 3.62 2.21 7.88
C
3
H
8
0.82 0.09 2.69 0.74 0.09 0.82
C
4
H
10
0.12 0.54 0.39 0.24 0.54 0.12
C
5
H
12
0.05 0.14
N
2
0.49 0.37 1.36 10.1 0.37 0.49
CO
2
0.57 1.24 10.00
H
2
S 1.E03
P. C ezac et al. / J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122 117
Fig. 1. Phases envelopes of four gases.
solid sulphur deposition is not the result of a chemical reaction.
The condensate and desublimation mechanisms seem the most
plausible. To study them, we have established a thermodynamic
model to describe the system in ranges of temperature, pressure
and composition, which correspond to natural gas transportation
conditions. Gaseous elemental sulphur is a complex compound,
which exists in several forms fromS
8
to S. They co-exist through
gaseous equilibriums [1,6]:
x
8
S
8
S
x
, x = 1, 7 (3)
Moreover, Hyne [1] has experimentally showed the existence of
equilibriums between sulphur and polysulfanes when hydrogen
sulphide is present.
H
2
S +
(x 1)
8
S
8
H
2
S
x
, x = 2, 9 (4)
These two types of equilibriums (3) and (4), which involve only
gaseous species, can inuence the gas composition and conse-
quently the thermodynamic properties of the system. That is the
reason why we integrated them in our model.
3. Model description
The model used is a reactive ash model. It is based on a ther-
modynamic description of the macroscopic physicalchemical
phenomena occurring in a vapourliquidsolid-system, which is
assumed perfectly mixed. Solid sulphur is supposed pure and we
assume that there is no metastable state. The pressure reduction
is isenthalpic. Assuming the above conditions, unknown factors
are the composition of the vapour and liquid phases, and the
quantity of solid sulphur.
3.1. Governing equations
The inlet of the ash is always a vapour phase. The outlet
can be vapour, solid or (and) liquid. Thus we have three types
of equilibrium.
3.1.1. Vapourliquid equilibrium
The thermodynamic equilibrium conditions imply that pres-
sure, temperature and fugacity are identical in both phases:
f
L
i
(T, P, x) = f
V
i
(T, P, y) (5)
3.1.2. Vapoursolid equilibrium of sulphur
In the same way, we have:
f
S
S
8
(T, P) = f
V
S
8
(T, P, y) (6)
3.1.3. Vapour chemical equilibriums
The criterion of chemical equilibrium is:

i
_
f
V
i
(T, P, y)
P

_
v
i,r
= K

(T) (7)
As indicated before, we consider the gaseous equilibriums (3)
and (4).
3.1.4. Energy balance
The energy balance is classically based on the rst principle
of thermodynamics. We assume that there is noenergyexchange.
So, the energy balance is expressed as:
H
Inlet
(T
Inlet
, P
Inlet
) = H
Outlet
(T
Outlet
, P
Outlet
) (8)
3.1.5. Partial mass balances
The partial mass balances are written as follows:
n
S
i
+n
V
i
n
A
i

i,r

r
= 0 (9)
3.2. Numerical procedure
The equations make up a non-linear system in which all the
thermodynamic properties are expressed as a function of com-
position, pressure and temperature. The degree of freedom is
zero. The overall system is solved in steady state using the
NewtonRaphsons method.
118 P. C ezac et al. / J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122
3.3. Thermodynamic models
3.3.1. Fugacities in the vapour phase and in the liquid
phase
The thermodynamic model used to describe the fugacity of
a compound in a uid phase is the Peng Robinson equation of
state [7] coupled with the van der Waals mixing rules. These
latter can be written as follows:
a
m
=

j
y
i
y
i

a
i
a
j
(1 k
ij
(T)) (10)
b
m
=

i
y
i
y
j
_
b
i
+b
j
2
_
(11)
3.3.2. Solid phase fugacity
The fugacity of a pure solid specie can be written in differ-
ent ways [8]. The most common way relates the solid fugacity
to the vapour fugacity using the sublimation pressure. In this
case, only two physical properties are required: the solid molar
volume and the sublimation pressure. However, below 330 K,
the sublimation pressure is unknown [9]. So, this expression
of fugacity cannot be used under natural gas transportation
conditions. Another approach to express the pure solid fugac-
ity is to link it to the pure liquid fugacity. Then the physical
properties needed are the fusion enthalpy and temperature, the
heat capacities and the molar volume. In this expression, the
heat capacities are considered as constant and are evaluated at
the fusion temperature. Because the temperature range of gas
transportation conditions is far from the fusion temperature, we
established a new way to write the pure solid fugacity. The ther-
modynamic path to obtain it is detailed in a previous article
[8].
ln
_
f
S
(T, P
a
)
f
L
(T
f
, P
a
)
_
=
_
H
f
(T
f
, P
a
)+H
V
(T
f
, P
sat
(T
f
))HC
RT
_
_
1
T
T
f
_
(12)

_
T
T
f
_
T
T
f
c
SGP
p
(T, P
a
) dT
RT
2
dT
where
HC = H
res
(T
f
, P
sat
(T
f
))
+
_
v
L
T
f
_
v
L
T
_
P
a
_
(P
a
P
sat
(T
f
)) (13)
Just below the fusion temperature, the thermodynamic sta-
ble form of solid sulphur is monoclinic (-form). Its fugacity
is calculated according to Eq. (12). In gas transport, the
temperature ranges are below the solid transition tempera-
ture. Then, the solid stable form is the orthorhombic one
(-form). Its fugacity is related to that of the monoclinic
form:
ln
f

(T, P
a
)
f

(T, P
a
)
=
H
tr
(T
tr
, P
a
)
R
_
1
T

1
T
tr
_

_
T
T
tr
_
T
T
tr
(C

p
(T, P
a
) c

p
(T, P
a
)) dT
RT
2
dT
(14)
To obtain the solid fugacity of both solid forms at a pressure
other than atmospheric pressure, a pointing term is added. The
data sources required to express solid fugacity are reported by
Cezac et al. [8].
3.3.3. Enthalpies in the vapour phase and in the liquid
phase
Enthalpy is the sum of the residual enthalpy H
res
and the
enthalpy of the perfect gas:
H
Vor L
(T, P, z) = H
res
(T, P, z) +H
GP
(T, z) (15)
with:
H
res
(T, P, z) =
_

v
_
P T
_
P
T
_
v
_
dv +RT (Z
Vor L
1)
(16)
3.3.4. Pure sulphur solid phase enthalpy
We assume that the molar volume of both solid sulphur forms
is constant in the range of temperature and pressure. Thus the
enthalpy of the monoclinic form is written:
H

(T, P) = H
L
(T
f
, P
atm
) H
f
(T
f
, P
a
)
+
_
T
T
f
c

p
(T, P
a
) dT +v

(P P
a
) (17)
Similarly to the fugacity expressions, the enthalpy of the
orthorhombic form is calculated from the enthalpy of the
monoclinic formunder atmospheric pressure and transition tem-
perature.
H

(T, P) = H

(T
tr
, P
a
) H
tr
(T
tr
, P
a
)
+
_
T
T
tr
c

p
(T, P
a
) dT +v

(P P
a
) (18)
3.3.5. Chemical equilibrium constants
The chemical equilibrium constants are directly linked to the
standard free Gibbs energy. All the data except for H
2
S
x
(x =2,
9) are available in the databank of the National Institute of Stan-
dards Technology [10]. We used for H
2
S
x
the data reported by
Heidemann et al. [11]. Polynomial expressions of the chemical
equilibrium constants are given in Cezac et al. [8].
3.4. Parameters of the model
3.4.1. Characteristic parameters
Calculations using the Peng Robinson equation of state
require: the critical temperature, the critical pressure and
P. C ezac et al. / J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122 119
Table 2
Inuence of the drop in pressure on solid sulphur formationgas A and gas B
Upstream pressure (xed) (MPa) Gas A Gas B
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur repartition
(calculated) (mass%)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
5 250.0 99.86 252.4 99.74
4 257.0 99.01 258.7 98.49
3 263.8 94.22 264.9 92.44
2.5 267.1 87.14 268.0 84.24
2 270.4 73.27 271.0 69.11
1.6 273.0 24.99 273.5 50.18
Upstream temperature: 280 K, downstream pressure: 0.5 MPa.
Table 3
Inuence of the drop in pressure on solid sulphur formationgas C and gas D
Upstream pressure (xed)
(MPa)
Gas C Gas D
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur repartition
(calculated) (mass%)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
5 246.5 99.94 253.2 99.66
4 254.4 99.47 259.2 98.17
3 262.1 96.11 265.3 91.44
2.5 265.8 90.46 268.3 82.68
2 279.5 78.34 271.2 67.01
1.6 272.3 61.03 273.6 50.64
Upstream temperature: 280 K, downstream pressure: 0.5 MPa.
the acentric factor of each compound. For all non-sulphured
compounds of natural gas except hydrogen sulphide, these
values are available in Chemistry Data Series [12,13]. For
polysulfanes H
2
S
2
to H
2
S
5
, we deduced these parameters
from the data provided by Simmrock et al. [13]. They are
given in Cezac et al. [8]. The characteristic parameters of
the other polysulfanes (H
2
S
6
to H
2
S
9
) are calculated accord-
ing to the Prausnitz and Heidemann approach [14,15]. S
8
critical parameters are also given in Cezac et al. [8]. The
characteristic parameters of the other sulphur species (S
x
) are
calculated according to the Prausnitz and Heidemann approach
[14,15]
Table 4
Inuence of the temperature on solid sulphur formation for a typical pressure drop from 5 to 0.5 MPagas A and gas B
Upstream temperature
(xed) (K)
Gas A Gas B
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur repartition
(calculated) (mass%)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
280 250.0 99.86 252.4 99.14
290 262.4 98.55 264.5 97.57
300 274.4 88.39 276.4 81.86
310 286.3 24.33 288.0 0
320 298.0 0 299.5 0
Table 5
Inuence of the temperature on solid sulphur formation for a typical pressure drop from 5 to 0.5 MPagas C and gas D
Upstream temperature
(xed) (K)
Gas C Gas D
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur repartition
(calculated) (mass%)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
280 246.5 99.94 253.2 99.66
290 259.3 99.33 265.2 96.87
300 271.7 94.08 277.0 77.02
310 283.9 58.16 288.6 0
320 295.8 0 300.1 0
120 P. C ezac et al. / J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122
Table 6
Inuence of the H
2
S composition on solid sulphur formation for a typical pressure drop from 5 to 0.5 MPagas A/gas F
Upstream temperature
(xed) (K)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
Gas A Gas F Gas A Gas F
280 250.0 250.0 99.79 99.78
290 262.4 262.4 97.91 97.88
300 274.4 274.5 83.30 83.25
310 286.3 286.3 0 0
320 298.0 298.0 0 0
3.4.2. Binary interaction coefcients
Binary interaction parameters are necessary to use the van der
Waals mixing rules. For all non-sulphured compounds except
hydrogen sulphide, the binary interaction coefcients are clas-
sically available in the databank [16].
The knowledge of all binary interaction parameters between
sulphur and other components should lead to a better descrip-
tion of the natural gas systems. Due to the lack of experimental
data, we regressed the binary coefcients between sulphur and
respectively CH
4
, CO
2
and H
2
S from sulphur solubility data
[17,18] in each binary and from experimental sulphur solubility
in ternary system reported by Sun and Chen [19]. We assumed
the other binary interaction coefcients to be equal to zero. The
determination of these three binary interaction coefcients is
presented in Cezac et al. [8]
4. Application of the model
4.1. Hypothesis of condensate
To study this hypothesis, we considered four natural gases,
whose compositions are reported in Table 1. These compositions
are typical of gases transported in transmission and distribution
networks. We plotted on Fig. 1 the gas envelope of these gases.
The formation of condensates could occur if the pressure and
temperature conditions during the pressure reduction cross the
phase envelope. Typical operational conditions of a natural gas
ow upstream of a gas expander are 5 MPa and 280 K. If we
impose a classical downstream pressure of 0.5 MPa, the cal-
culated outlet temperature is near 253 K. Thus, according to
the phase envelope, the probability of condensate formation is
very low. However, the gas composition can be an important
factor. Fig. 1 shows that the phase envelope of a natural gas,
which contains heavier compounds (gas C), presents a shift in
the phase envelope at higher temperature. So, for this natural
gas, the probability of condensate formation increases. Never-
theless, it remains low under the classical conditions of pressure
and temperature met in natural gas transportation.
4.2. Hypothesis of desublimation
By denition, desublimation is the direct transformation of a
vapour compound into a solid. If the vapour phase becomes
supersaturated because of the change of operational condi-
tions during a pressure reduction, according to a desublimation
process, deposition can appear. To study this hypothesis, we con-
Table 7
Inuence of the CO
2
composition on solid sulphur formation for a typical pressure drop from 5 to 0.5 MPagas B/gas E
Upstream temperature
(xed) (K)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid Sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
Gas B Gas E Gas B Gas E
280 252.4 249.9 98.93 99.80
290 264.5 262.2 96.97 97.98
300 276.4 274.3 77.40 83.81
310 288.0 286.2 0 0
320 299.5 297.9 0 0
Table 8
Inuence of the composition of the heavy compounds on solid sulphur formation for a typical pressure drop from 5 to 0.5 MPagas B/gas C
Upstream temperature
(xed) (K)
Downstream temperature
(calculated) (K)
Solid sulphur distribution
(calculated) (mass%)
Gas B Gas C Gas B Gas C
280 252.4 246.5 98.93 99.90
290 264.5 259.3 96.97 98.79
300 276.4 271.7 77.40 89.27
310 288.0 283.9 0 24.09
320 299.5 295.8 0 0
P. C ezac et al. / J. of Supercritical Fluids 44 (2008) 115122 121
sidered the same four gases as for the condensate hypothesis.
The most common location of the sulphur deposit is imme-
diately downstream of a pressure reduction facility. Thus, we
studied this kind of conguration. The upstream conditions and
downstream pressure are xed. The downstream temperature
and sulphur distribution between the vapour and solid phases
are calculated. As no experimental value of the sulphur vapour
concentration in the temperature and pressure domain of interest
has been published yet, we chose to consider that the upstream
owof natural gas is saturated in sulphur. Tables 2 and 3 present
the calculated downstreamtemperature and the calculated distri-
bution of the sulphur between the vapour and solid phases. As we
assumed that the enthalpy of the systemis constant, pressure and
temperature are linked. At xed upstreamtemperature, the larger
the decrease in pressure, the lower the downstreamtemperature.
For the gas A, a reduction of 1 MPa entails on average a reduc-
tion of 5.6 K. If we consider a drop in pressure of 4.5 MPa, more
than 99 mass%of the sulphur present in the upstreamgas owis
in solid state downstream of the pressure reduction facility. The
more the pressure drop decreases, the more the solid distribution
decreases, but in all cases studied solid sulphur appears. Thus,
desublimation is the most likely sulphur deposition mechanism.
Next, we used the model to study the inuence of operational
conditions, like upstream temperature or gas composition, on
the sulphur deposit formation. The higher the pressure drop,
the lower the downstream temperature and the higher the sul-
phur desublimation. Tables 4 and 5 present the inuence of the
upstream temperature on the downstream sulphur distribution
between solid and vapour phases. For all the gases studied, a
higher upstream temperature means a decrease in the solid sul-
phur mass. Moreover, there is an upstream temperature above
which no precipitation occurs. Thus, increasing the upstream
gas temperature can prevent the sulphur deposition problem by
maintaining sulphur in vapour phase. We also used the model
to study the inuence of the gas composition on the solid sul-
phur formation. Tables 68 compare the calculated downstream
temperature and the downstream solid sulphur distribution of
a natural gas poor in H
2
S (gas A) and a rich one (gas F), one
poor in CO
2
(gas B) and a rich one (gas E), and one poor in
heavy hydrocarbons (gas B) and a rich one (gas C). For all these
studies on the gas composition inuence, we xed the sulphur
content in upstream at the same value: 7E4 mg Nm
3
. So, all
the gases are not saturated before the pressure reduction. Results
presented in Table 6 allow us to study the impact of H
2
S con-
tent on the formation of sulphur deposit. For each pressure drop
at xed upstream temperature, calculated solid sulphur distri-
butions are quite identical. Presence of H
2
S has no signicant
inuence. Table 7 presents solid sulphur distribution for gas B
and gas E, the last one being richer in CO
2
. It appears that the
richer in carbon dioxide the gas, the higher the solid sulphur
distribution. Also the richer in CO
2
the gas, the lower the down-
stream temperature The CO
2
presence affects the properties of
the system. The behaviour is similar when the gas contains heavy
carbons as indicated in Table 8. The solid sulphur distribution is
greater for gas C than for gas B.
The model permits to study the inuence of several parame-
ters on the sulphur distribution between solid and vapour phase
downstream of a point of pressure reduction. Thus, drops in
pressure and temperature are both very important parameters.
The composition of the gas, specially in CO
2
and heavy hydro-
carbons, also has an impact in the operational conditions of
gas transport. It is very important to note that these results are
obtained by prediction. Moreover, the hypothesis of the non-
existence of a supersaturated vapour phase can quantitatively
affect the results. Due to the lack of experimental results, mod-
elling and simulation are nowadays the only way to study the
solid sulphur formation observed by several gas companies.
Experimental validation is necessary before using the model
for optimizing operational conditions like determinating the
upstream temperature avoiding the sulphur deposition.
5. Conclusion
Deposition of elemental sulphur in natural gas transmis-
sion line systems appears around pressure control facilities and
affects their operations. A necessary step to eliminate solid sul-
phur deposition is to understand the deposit mechanism. We
established a reactive ash model. The constitutive equations
are classically the chemical and physical equilibriums, partial
mass balances and energy balance. The condensate hypothesis
appears the less probable. However, it cannot be totally rejected,
especially if the gas is rich in heavy hydrocarbons. Desublima-
tion appears to be the most plausible mechanism explaining the
formation of a sulphur deposit. Pressure reduction implies tem-
perature reduction, which reinforces solid formation. Asolution
to minimize the solid sulphur deposition is to heat the gas stream
before pressure reduction.
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