Editor's Choice

Turning pollution into gold

May 2022 Editor's Choice

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a flammable, colourless gas that severely impacts human safety, regulatory compliance and infrastructure integrity (due to corrosion) in a wide variety of applications. Found in about 40 to 60% of natural gas wells worldwide, this poisonous gas, with its characteristic smell of rotten eggs, is both an irritant and chemical asphyxiant, thus affecting the central nervous system and breathing. Therefore, you do not want this toxic gas to come into your house when you turn on your stove.

Fortunately, several technologies exist to remove H2S. While chemicals exist that can directly remove the H2S from gas, they can be expensive and hazardous to dispose of. Furthermore, these chemicals are only cost effective when dealing with low concentrations of H2S. When dealing with vast amounts of H2S, large plants need to be built to remove the toxic chemical. However, most gas wells only contain an intermediate amount of H2S – not enough to warrant building a $50 million facility, yet too much to treat with a $5-per-kg chemical. In between these two options, there are not a lot of good technologies available to remove H2S efficiently.

Streamline Innovations has significantly improved the redox process and has created one of the most efficient H2S treating solutions on the market. Its Valkyrie (redox) H2S gas and acid gas treating system employs new chemical processes and advanced control systems to remove H2S from natural gas at scales that range from single wells to entire fields. This patented process removes 100% of H2S from the natural gas stream at what the company claims is the lowest cost-per-kilogram of H2S removal compared to all other competitors, lowering lease operating expenses (LOE).

Most importantly, Valkyrie converts H2S into agricultural-grade elemental sulphur, which is beneficial for soil remediation, crop fertiliser and pest control. As one of the fundamental elements of life, sulphur has long been regarded as a necessary nutrient in crops, and sulphur deficiency has been a problem for many crops, from cotton to wine grapes.

So far, Streamline Innovations has produced over 9 million kilograms of sulphur from its plants throughout Texas and New Mexico, and is expanding into international markets, biogas treatment and refinery treatment. The sulphur produced would otherwise have turned into SO2, a key component of acid rain.

Thanks to the combination of Moxa’s industrial PC technology and Inductive Automation’s Ignition scada platform running on edge devices, Streamline Innovations has benefited from a 75% reduction in labour costs as it does not require as many full-time employees on site to manage the units. “We needed a system that was robust enough, could do the calculations, provide good uptime, and was reasonably priced – and that is why we chose Moxa,” said Pieter Photos, chief technology officer at Streamline Innovations. The constant updating of flow rates and addition of chemicals by an employee is no longer necessary, since Moxa’s computers perform the calculations and provide maximum uptime.

Furthermore, in the past, Streamline Innovations could not address several variables – such as temperature and humidity variations – which could affect the amount of water during the chemical process. Now it can, because ML (machine learning) has been added to model-predictive control with help from Ignition and Python scripts running on Moxa’s computers.

“I call it Edge of Glory. It is the data revolution. It helps Streamline unveil the revolutionary H2S removal technology,” added Photos. Not only does a robust data collection system improve operational performance, but the integration of the data benefits every branch of the company. The data is used in maintenance planning, designing more efficient units, and even corporate-wide business model calculations.

In the future, the fully integrated data will help automate the business across the spectrum, allowing data-driven decisions to be made at every level of the company. The improved Valkyrie system, leveraging Moxa’s computers and Ignition software, has brought several benefits to both Streamline Innovations and its clients. These benefits include cost savings with the setup of the solution, in addition to labour reduction, improved uptime, and efficient intelligence gathering from the systems for continuous operational improvement.

Going forward, Streamline Innovations plans to expand the Valkyrie solution to more customers by leveraging its solutions team and in-house experience to help solve the challenges facing industrial markets.


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