An investigation of the comparative performance of diverse humidity sensing techniques in natural gas

Authors: J.G. Gallegos, R. Benyon, S. Avila, A. benito, R.M. Gavioso, H. Mitter, S. Bell, M. Stevens, N. Bose, V. Ebert, M. Heinonen, H. Sairanen, A. Peruzzi, R. Bosma, M. Valkova.
Reference: Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering 23 (2015) 407-416

Moisture content is a key factor regardless of the activity carried out inside the natural gas industry (production, processing, transmission, etc.). Not only does the efficiency of the final product, known as heating value, decrease when the water content is high, but it can also trigger potentially dangerous conditions due to the formation of hydrates, that can block pipelines and damage pumping devices and produce other negative effects. For these reasons, accurate measurement and control of humidity is absolutely essential. However, current practice for such moisture measurements is for the devices to be calibrated at atmospheric pressure and in nitrogen or air as the matrix gas, conditions that vary significantly from those present in the actual industrial process. For that, eleven hygrometers based on different measurement principles (chilled-mirror, electrolytic sensor, a spectroscopic analyzer, polymeric and metal oxide humidity sensors) have been compared at facilities of the main carrier of natural gas in Spain, using natural gas at absolute pressures between 0.1 MPa and 6 MPa, and for a range of water content from 13 ppmv to 250 ppmv. Their relative performance is described in terms of the response times, long term stability, hysteresis and behaviour under large pressure changes. Most instruments, exceptions are detailed in the article, show good behaviour regarding response time, hysteresis and under sudden pressure changes. In contrast, drift can be identified in most of the aluminium oxide probes tested.

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