To understand more about kerosene sweetening it would make much better sense for us to have some basic understanding and knowledge about Mercaptan removal from lpg. This is also known as methanethiol. It is a harmless compound but comes with a highly pungent smell. Basically it is in the gaseous form and it often smells like rotten cabbages or socks that are smelly. Though it has a pungent smell, it does have some uses. It is often added to natural gas provided the gas is odorless and colorless. This makes it easier to detect.
This gas is certainly an organic substance and cannot be synthetically produced easily. It is made from hydrogen, sulfur and carbon. It is found in living organisms and is also present in the human body. It is basically a waste product that is a byproduct of normal metabolism.
It happens to be one of the many chemicals that are responsible for the foul smell or bad breath and also a cause of flatulence. People who have been on a diet of asparagus would most certainly be able to observe the smell of mercaptan in their urine. This happens within 30 minutes of consumption of the vegetable. Asparagus contains substances that are easily broken down to a substance called methanethiol. However, it would be pertinent to point out that not everybody would be able to smell mercaptan in their urine. This is because of some genetic mutation in some people that prevents it from happening. It makes them immune to the odor that is caused by mercaptan.
Mercaptan In Industries
The biggest advantage with the use of mercaptan used in industrial purposes is the fact that it can be detected by almost all people and that too in very small quantities. For example, even if there is concentration of one part of mercaptan per millions part, the smell and odor stands out quite clearly. Hence, this makes it one of the most ideal additives for odorless gases. Like most natural gases, it is flammable.
How It Is Reduced/Removed From Kerosene & Other Fluids
There is a need to reduce or remove mercaptan from kerosene and jet fuel mainly for one big reason. Yes, it is for the purpose of making it odor free. Even small quantities of mercaptan could lead to the entire consignment of kerosene and jet fuel becoming very smelly. Hence there is a need to reduce acids and go through a process by which it is possible to convert mercaptan into disulfides. This is done with a process that also is referred to as fuel sweetening. It is process that uses a fixed-bed of catalyst, caustic and air whereby the kerosene is sweetened and what we get out of this process is on-specification jet fuel product and also kerosene that is used for domestic purposes especially those who belong to the lower strata of society.
There are also caustic free versions of conversion where a high activity catalyst along with activators is used for facilitating the entire mercaptan sweetening reaction. This is done in the presence of a weak base and that is ammonia.
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