The fundamentals of SMR operational economics are universal: maximize the hydrogen production and minimize hydrocarbon consumption. For this, we use instrumentation to measure temperature, pressure and analyze gas compositions. Beyond that, expert operators and sophisticated process control algorithms have oversight 24 hours a day to ensure that the SMR runs at its sweet spot.
Production of hydrogen on an SMR consumes methane or other feedstocks in the reaction. These hydrocarbons are also used as supplemental fuel to generate the heat that is required to drive the SMR reaction kinetics forwards. Efficient hydrogen production minimizes the amount of fuel and feedstock required. In addition to better process economics, this results in environmental benefits with fewer emissions of carbon dioxide, nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide. Some of the most fundamental gas analysis requirements on an SMR are:
- calculation of the energy calorific value (BTU/scf) of the incoming feedstock;
- monitoring methane slip through the SMR;
- controlling the steam to carbon ratio in the SMR and;
- measurement of the final hydrogen product purity
For these diverse requirements, a wide range of gas analyzers will be required and a key factor in selecting the right analyzer is to decide what the most essential functionality is. Perhaps the priority is continuous and instantaneous measurement of a specified molecule such as online carbon dioxide measurement using one of our direct read Uras26 NDIR gas analyzers. Or, the critical issue may be simultaneous measurement of a diverse mix of gases, for which a small delay in receiving the signal may be acceptable. For example, the BTU/scf value of the natural gas coming into the SMR is best measured using a rapid response process GC-TCD such as the PGC1000 which is optimized for natural gas BTU analysis. This instrument can analyse and characterise a gas mixture sample every two minutes. From a precise analysis of the gas composition it is possible to calculate its BTU value using formulae described in ISO 6976:1995 Natural gas — Calculation of calorific values, density, relative density and Wobbe index from composition.