Purification of hydrogen through a HYCO plant in a refinery.

Supplying high purity hydrogen is critical for many industrial applications where impurities deteriorate yields. Is required to:

  • chemical production.
  • Metal refining.
  • Oil refining.
  • Food processing.
  • Semiconductor manufacturing.

Refiners use hydrogen gas in the hydrocracking process, de-aromatization or desulfurization.
Recovery and purification of pure hydrogen can be performed in different streams rich in hydrogen, such as synthesis gas steam reforming of natural gas or gasification processes.
The H2 purity requirement is up to 99.9999 mole% and is achieved with a process demanding purification.


As the name suggests, HYCO plants produce large amounts of hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO).
In this case, the process feeds HYCO with natural gas and steam (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Diagram of the process plant HYCO

It is a hydrogen production plant using natural gas as feedstock. The natural gas reacts with steam in the primary reformer at high temperature and pressure to obtain a synthesis gas, which is a mixture primarily of H2 and CO.

Reaction 1: CH4 + H2O CO + 3H2 ↔

Exhaust gas is rich in hydrogen but contains a certain proportion of carbon monoxide. In another reactor becomes the CO, additional hydrogen by reaction with steam.

Reaction 2: CO + H2O ↔ CO2 + H2

The resulting gas has a high hydrogen content, with carbon dioxide.

CO2 is a byproduct that needs to be eliminated from the process. This is due to its high freezing point, that could clog the separation process in the refrigerator.

To remove CO2, it is made by absorbing a solution of amines.Then passed through a dryer to remove moisture and CO2 something left over from the previous process. The refrigerator will allow us to separate the H2 and CO. The CO passes through three columns in the refrigerator distillation before it is a pure product.

Separated hydrogen is then purified in a PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) unit. The PSA is part of the process that is responsible for purifying the H2 to send to the network of H2 refinery. After the PSA unit is important to know the purity of the hydrogen, and this can be done by the analyzer model gases LaserGas II MP .

Typical process data:
Measure CO and CH4 in H2 pure
extractive solution,
Range CO: 0-10 ppm
range CH4: 0-20 ppm


H2 pollution must be detected. The reasons are as follows:
• Provide you high quality hydrogen.
• Protect customer processes using hydrogen
• Optimizing the durability of absorbing the HYCO plant as much as possible, to reduce costs
• Making Change absorb only when the limits are reached
• Increased efficiency plant
• energy saving

Solution proposed by MATELCO.

A gas analyzer LaserGas II MP of Norwegian company NEO Monitors, measuring the CO and CH4 simultaneously hydrogen at very low ranges (ppb).
Measurement principle: Laser (TDLAS) spectroscopy single line
zero stability allows low alarm levels and minimizes the risk of shutdowns for false alarms.
Using this gas analyzer maintenance costs are significantly reduced.

Benefits Analyzer:

  • Measuring gases in trace amounts (ppb) of extractive mode in a controlled environment
  • As in highly reliable real-time
  • Reducing emissions to the environment
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Process optimization by reducing operating costs
  • energy saving
  • Response time in seconds (2 to 10 depending on the flow)
  • Without interference from other gases in the sample
  • No zero drift
  • Minimum maintenance and operating costs
  • ATEX certificate

If you need to resolve any questions or queries you may have about the gas analyzer, simply send an e-mail from the contact section and one of our experts will contact you as soon as possible.