Pressure Swing Adsorption: A Gas Separation & Purification Process

Pressure swing adsorption is an adsorption-based process that has been used for various gas separation and purification purposes. Separation in these processes depends on the ability of one or more adsorbents which are porous solids to selectively adsorb one or more of the components of a gas/liquid mixture. In a PSA process the gas mixture is fed to one or more adsorption columns at PFeed (Phigh) which can be atmospheric or higher. During this step, one/more components are adsorbed more than the others, so the less adsorbed components leave the system at PFeed (Phigh) (minus the bed pressure drop). The saturated adsorbents are then regenerated by reducing the pressure to a pressure less than PFeed. As a result, the heavier components (more strongly adsorbed) desorb and leave the system through its feed end, at Plow which can be atmospheric or lower. PSA systems usually consist of two or more adsorption vessels; while one vessel is going through adsorption, the other goes through regeneration (desorption). Examples of PSA gas separation processes are air-separation for N2/O2 generation and hydrogen purification. The performance of any PSA unit is a function of the type of adsorbent and the process design.

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