Design and construction of a helium purification system using cryogenic adsorption process

Document Type: Research note


Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Malek Ashtar University of Technology (MUT), Lavizan 158751774, Tehran, Iran


One of the most appropriate methods for elimination of trace impurities in helium is cryogenic adsorption process. So, in this study design and construction of cryogenic adsorption helium purification system (3, 80 bar) carried out using activated carbon as adsorbent at 77K. To evaluation of adsorption dynamics and effect of pressure on elimination of trace impurities, helium purification was performed from 10 to 70 bar. Results showed that helium can be purified from 99.95 % to 99.99999% at pressure of 60 bar using cryogenic adsorption process. Effect of regeneration condition on helium purity and recovery was investigated by three different regeneration methods: regeneration by helium at 40 °C and at 180 °C as purge gas, countercurrent to feed direction, and regeneration via vacuum. Results showed that regeneration of bed by vacuum can be proposed as most appropriated method because of maximum helium purity and high recovery of helium (98%).


Main Subjects

[1]      Van Sciver, S. W., Helium cryogenics, Springer Science & Business Media, (2012).

[2]      Das, N. K. et al., “Purification of helium from natural gas by pressure swing adsorption”, Curr. Sci., 95 (12), 1684 (2008).

[3]      Mokhatab, S. and Poe, W. A., Handbook of natural gas transmission and processing, Gulf Professional Publishing, (2012).

[4]      D'Amico, J. S., Reinhold, H. E. and Knaebel, K., “Helium recovery”, J. Clean Prod., 1 (5), 137 (1997).

[5]      Nuttall, W. J., Clarke, R. and Glowacki, B., The future of helium as a natural resource, Routledge, (2012).

[6]      Kneuer, R., Petersen, K. and Stephan, A., “Automatic multi-range helium-liquefaction plant”, Cryogenics, 20 (3), 129 (1980).

[7]      Yao, M., Wang, R., Liu, Z., He, X. and Li, J., “The helium purification system of the HTR-10”, Nucl. Eng. Des., 218 (1), 163 (2002).

[8]      Hwang, S. -C. and Weltmer Jr., W. R., Helium group (gases) encyclopedia of chemical technology, John Wiley & Sons, N.Y., (1995).

[9]      Dąbrowski, A., “Adsorption-from theory to practice”, Adv. Colloid Interface Sci., 93 (1), 135 (2001).

[10]  Li, H., Hsiao, F., Tsai, H. et al., “The purifier system for helium cryogenic plant in NSRRC”, Proceedings of IPAC2012, pp. 2498-24500 (2010).

[11]  Stoll, A., Taylor, L. and Steel, A., “Helium purifiers”, Proceedings of The 7th International Cryogenic Engineering Conference, London, (July 1978).

[12]  Maiti, T. K., Banerjee, S., Mukherjee, A., Panda, U., Datta, N., Parate, J., Das, A. and Dey, R., “Development of cryogenic adsorber based helium purifier at VECC”, Kolkata Indian J. Cryogenics, 2, 61 (2005).

[13]  Thingstad, P., “Inert gas purifier for SLAC's two-meter streamer chamber”, IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci.(National Particle Accelerator Conference), 16, 659 (1969).

[14]  Yang, L., Vo, T. and Burris, H., “Nitrogen adsorption isotherms for zeolite and activated carbon”, Cryogenics, 22 (12), 625 (1982).

[15]  Kidnay, A. and Hiza, M., “Physical adsorption in cryogenic engineering”, Cryogenics, 10 (4), 271 (1970).

[16]  Bhushan, J., Helium purification by gas adsorption method, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, (2011).

[17]  Clark, J., Thorogood, R. and Haselden, G., Cryogenic fundamentals, Academic Press, London, (1971).

[18]  Basmadjian, D., The little adsorption book: A practical guide for engineers and scientists, CRC press, (1996).

[19]  Patil, R. K., Shende, B. and Ghosh, P. K., “Designing a helical-coil heat exchanger”, J. Chem. Eng., 92 (24), 85 (1982).

[20]  Xiuqi, L., Huannan, H., Jianying, Z., Bohua, Y. and Pingtian, M., “Determination of trace amounts of permanent gases in ultra pure hydrogen by gas chromatography”, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 331 (5), 520 (1988).

[21]  Moon, D. -K., Kim, Y. -H., Ahn, H. and  Lee, C. -H., “Pressure swing adsorption process for recovering H2 from the effluent gas of a melting incinerator”, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 53 (40), 15447 (2014).