A process for the separation and liquefaction of component gasses from a pressurized mix gas stream is disclosed. The process involves cooling the pressurized mixed gas stream in a heat exchanger so as to condense one or more of the gas components having the highest condensation point; separating the condensed components from the remaining mixed gas stream in a gas-liquid separator; cooling the separated condensed component stream by passing it through an expander; and passing the cooled component stream back through the heat exchanger such that the cooled component stream functions as the refrigerant for the heat exchanger. The cycle is then repeated for the remaining mixed gas stream so as to draw off the next component gas and further cool the remaining mixed gas stream. The process continues until all of the component gases are separated from the desired gas stream. The final gas stream is then passed through a final heat exchanger and expander. The expander decreases the pressure on the gas stream, thereby cooling the stream and causing a portion of the gas stream to liquify within a tank. The portion of the gas which is not liquefied is passed back through each of the heat exchanges where it functions as a refrigerant.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC07-94ID13223 between the U.S. Department of Energy and Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Company.