We’ve all seen them, or least we’ve all seen them in photos and TV documentaries, the eternal, infernal flames of the oil-field flare. Now, an international engineering research team has put some figures to the energy and exergy of the venting and burning of combustible gases considered waste and suggests that the gas-flare recovery system adopted by some sites reduces waste considerably even when extra staffing and equipment are taken into account.
Sosimo Diaz-Mendez of the Universidad Autónoma del Carmen in Campeche, México, and colleagues have used an Extended Exergy Accounting method to determine whether or not flares are wasteful or not. Exergy is defined as the maximum amount of useful work that can a system connected to a heat sink can do as it approaches equilibrium. Until now, the status quo had been to simply vent the burning waste gases from oil fields to the atmosphere because the gas itself would cost too much in terms of energy to be useful and the low “quality” of the heat generated by burning them makes it too inefficient to cycle it into the energy input for the field. Diaz-Mendez and colleagues have put paid to this little piece of Deceived Wisdom.
To read the full article written by David Bradley, please click here.
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