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Department Editor: Kate Torzewski

Tray Column Design

Table 1. Guidelines for Selection of Tray Spacing Description Column diameters larger than 3,000 mm Column diameters between 1,200 and 3,000 mm Column diameters between 750 and 1,200 mm Fouling and corrosive service Systems with a high foaming tendency Columns operating in spray regime Columns operating in froth regime Tray Spacing, mm > 600 Comments The tray support beams restrict crawling space available; hence the large tray spacing This spacing is sufficiently wide to allow a worker to freely crawl between trays Crawling between the trays is seldom required, because the worker can reach the column wall from the tray manways Frequent maintenance is expected Required to avoid premature flooding Required to avoid excessive entrainment Lower tray spacing restricts allowable vapor velocity, thereby promoting froth-regime operation

ere, we present criteria needed for the intelligent, effective specification of trays for a distillation or stripping column. Among the key parameters and accessories during specification are column diameter, tray spacing, number of trays, number of passes, type of downcomers, weir heights, provision of downcomer backups, tray pressure drops, design of bottom seal pan, column bottom arrangement, and nozzle location and orientation.



Tray Spacing
The vertical distance between adjacent trays varies from 450 to 900 mm in the columns generally employed in the chemical process industries (CPI), as seen in Table 1. Spacing involves a tradeoff between column height and column diameter; with greater tray spacing, the column height increases, while the required diameter decreases. Height/diameter ratios greater than 2530 are generally not recommended.

> 600 At least 450 mm, but preferably 600 mm or higher At least 450 mm, but preferably 600 mm or higher < 450

Tray Passes
Set the number of passes such that liquid loads do not exceed 70 m3/h per meter weir length. After the number of passes has been selected, if necessary, adjust the column diameter in order to arrive at a minimum path length of 400 mm.  For a column diameter of 1,200 to 2,100 mm: use two passes at maximum  For a diameter of 2,100 to 3,000 mm: use three passes at maximum  For a diameter above 3,000 mm: use four passes at maximum

cross-sectional area should not be specified. Also, the downcomer width should not be less than 10% of the column diameter. Specify the downcomer clearance to be less than the outlet weir height; otherwise, vapor will flow up the downcomer rather than through the tray deck above. Downcomer sealing: To achieve a proper downcomer seal, the bottom edge of the downcomer should be about 10 mm below the top edge of the outlet weir. The downcomer clearance should be selected such that the liquid velocity under the downcomer does not exceed 0.450.50 m/s.

exceed the clearance normally employed under the tray downcomers. It should be at least 50 mm. The distance that the downcomer extends downward within the seal pan should be about the same as the clearance between downcomer bottom and pan floor. The distance between bottom tray floor and seal pan floor should be 150 mm greater than the normal tray spacing.

Nozzle orientation
For nozzles that feed liquid into the top tray, the nozzle should be perpendicular to the downcomer of the top tray. Nozzles feeding liquid at intermediate trays can be placed anywhere except in the downcomer segment. The space between the two trays should be at least 800 mm.

Outlet Weirs
 Weir heights in the froth regime are restricted to 5080 mm  Weir heights for columns operating in the spray regime should be 2025 mm Weir loadings should fall within the range of 15 to 70 m3/h per meter weir length.

Downcomers are conduits having circular, segmental or rectangular cross sections that convey liquid from a tray to the one immediately below. Liquid velocities in downcomers:  Minimally foaming liquids: 0.120.21 m/s  Medium foaming liquids: 0.090.18 m/s  Highly foaming liquids: 0.060.09 m/s Downcomer areas and clearances: For the cross-sectional area of the downcomers, values less than 58% of the column

column bottom
Inlets for the bottom feed and reboiler return lines should be at least 300 mm above the high liquid level. The bottom feed and reboiler return should not impinge on the bottom seal pan, seal pan overflow, or the bottom downcomer. The tops of both pipes should be at least 400450 mm below the bottom tray. References
1. Mukherjee, S., Tray Column Design: Keep Control of the Details, Chem. Eng., September 2005, pp. 5258.

Pressure Drop
For trays to function reasonably close to their best efficiency point, the dry-tray pressure drop must be roughly equal to the hydraulic-tray pressure drop.

Seal Pans
The clearance between the seal pan floor and the bottom downcomer should

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