Within the EC-funded project “Dehydration and hydrocarbon dewpointing of natural gas by membrane technology” coordinated by GKSS several of Europe’s largest companies in the oil and gas industries have evaluated the use of membranes for the separation of water vapour and higher hydrocarbons from natural gas. Among the project partners were leading industrial companies such as Shell Oil and Gas, BP Exploration, Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Agip, Gaz de France, University of Twente, Hogskolen i Telemark, and GKSS as the coordinator. The membrane model employed had already been developed before the project started. Different members had a variety of requirements how and where to integrate the module in order to perform the project work. ProII (by SimSci), Hysys (by Hyprotech), as well as Aspen Plus (by AspenTech) were process modeling tools in use by the various partners.
CAPE-OPEN has been chosen as a solution to the problem of interfacing the membrane model to the various process modeling environments employed by the project partners. Instead of rewriting the model to match the proprietary interfaces of each simulator involved, the CAPE-OPEN unit operation interfaces permitted the development of a single wrapper matching all the simulation tools involved. A module written in Visual Basic implements the CAPE-OPEN interfaces using the COM middleware infrastructure and forwards calculation requests to the original FORTRAN code. This procedure allows the reuse the existing model without the need for recoding. The CAPE-OPEN unit operation developed within this project has been successfully used with Hysys and further efforts in this area will be made to match industry demands.