In the Selexol process (now licensed by UOP LLC), the Selexol solvent dissolves (absorbs) the acid gases from the feed gas at relatively high pressure, usually 300 to 2000 psia (2.07 to 13.8 MPa). The rich solvent containing the acid gases is then let down in pressure and/or steam stripped to release and recover the acid gases. The Selexol process can operate selectively to recover hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide as separate streams, so that the hydrogen sulfide can be sent to a Claus unit for conversion to elemental sulfur while, at the same time, the carbon dioxide can be sequestered or used for enhanced oil recovery. The Selexol process is similar to the Rectisol process, which uses refrigerated methanol as the solvent. The Selexol solvent is a mixture of the dimethyl ethers of polyethylene glycol.
Selexol is a physical solvent, unlike amine based acid gas removal solvents that rely on a chemical reaction with the acid gases. Since no chemical reactions are involved, Selexol usually requires less energy than the amine based processes. However, at feed gas pressures below about 300 psia(2.07 MPa), the Selexol solvent capacity (in amount of acid gas absorbed per volume of solvent) is reduced and the amine based processes will usually be superior.