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# 35

## Equilibrium stage operations

Principles of stage process
The individual contact
numbered serially, starting
from one end.

Terminology
y
n+1
= mole fraction of
component A in the V
phase leaving stage n+1
V
n+1
= molal flow rate of
the V phase n+1
x
n
= mole fraction of
component A in the L
phase leaving stage n
L
n
= molal flow rate of the
L phase leaving stage n
L
a
= entering molal flow
rate of L phase
x
a
= entering mole fraction of component A in L phase
L
b
= exit molal flow rate of L phase
x
b
= exit mole fraction of component A in L phase
V
a
= exit molal flow rate of V phase
y
a
= exit mole fraction of component A in V phase
V
b
= entering molal flow rate of V phase
y
b
= entering mole fraction of component A in V phase

36

Material balances in the section within the dotted line:
Total input of material = L
a
+ V
n+1
moles/h
Total output of material = L
n
+ V
a
moles/h
For component A:
Input = L
a
x
a
+ V
n+1
y
n+1
Output = L
n
x
n
+ V
a
y
a

L
a
+ V
n+1
= L
n
+ V
a

L
a
x
a
+ V
n+1
y
n+1
= L
n
x
n
+ V
a
y
a

Overall material balances covering the entire cascade:
Total material: L
a
+ V
b
= L
b
+ V
a

Component A: L
a
x
a
+ V
b
y
b
= L
b
x
b
+ V
a
y
a

Operating line diagram
The operating line can be derived from the material
balance equation of component A:
V
n+1
y
n+1
= L
n
x
n
+ V
a
y
a
- L
a
x
a

y
n+1
=
I
n
I
n+1
x
n
+
I
u
y
u
- I
u
x
u
I
n+1

y
b
= y
N+1

x
b
= x
N

y
a
= y
1

x
a
= x
0

The departure from equilibrium is
the driving force for separation. If the operating line
touches the equilibrium line, no separation can be made
at the point.

37

Ideal contact stages
In an ideal stage, the V phase
leaving the stage is in equilibrium
with the L phase leaving the same
stage. It is called perfect plate in a
plate column.
Y
n
is in equilibrium with x
n

To relate the ideal stage to an actual one, a
correction factor, called the stage efficiency or plate
efficiency, is used.
stogc cicicncy =
numbcr o iJcol stogcs
numbcr o rcol stogcs

Determining the number of ideal stages
This is required in designing cascades.

38

1. Graphical method
for binary systems

Draw the operating &
equilibrium lines of
x-y diagram. The
ends of the operating
line are points a (x
a
,
y
a
) & b (x
b
, y
b
).

The concentration of
gas leaving the top
stage, which is stage 1, is y
a
or y
1
.

If the stage is ideal, the liquid leaving is in equilibrium
with the vapor leaving, so the point (x
1
, y
1
) must lie on
the equilibrium curve. This fact fixes point m. The
abscissa of point m is x
1
.

The operating line passes all points of (x
n
, y
n+1
), since x
1

is known, y
2
is found by moving vertically from point m
to the operating line at point n (x
1
, y
2
). The step, or
triangle (a, m, n) is one ideal stage, the first one in this
column.

This graphical method in determining the number of
ideal stages is called the McCabe-Thiele method.

Note: y
n
is in equilibrium with x
n
for an ideal stage,
while y
n+1
is in the same position of x
n
.
39

Example 1:
By means of a plate column, acetone is absorbed from
its mixture with air in a nonvolatile absorption oil. The
entering gas contains 30 mole percent acetone, and the
entering oil is free of acetone. Of the acetone in the air,
97% is to be absorbed, and the concentrated liquor at
the bottom of the tower is to contain 10 mole percent
acetone. The equilibrium relationship is y
e
= 1.9 x
e
. Plot
the operating line and determine the number of ideal
stages.

1. Draw the materials flow chart

2. Choose mol of entering gas as
a basis, and set this = V
b
.

Acetone entering = V
b
y
b

= 100x0.3 = 30 mol
Air entering = 100 30 = 70 mol (inert gas) = V

With 97% absorbed, acetone leaving in the V phase is
(1 0.97)x30 = 0.9 mol = V
a
y
a

V
a
= 70 + 0.9 = 70.9 mol
y
a
= 0.9/70.9 = 0.0127

The acetone absorbed in the L phase is
30x0.97 = 29.1 mol

40

Mass balance for acetone is
L
a
x
a
+ V
b
y
b
= L
b
x
b
+ V
a
y
a

0 + 30 = 0.1L
b
+ 0.9
L
b
= 291 mol
L
a
= L
b
29.1 = 291 29.1 = 261.9 mol

To find an intermediate point on the operating line,
specify a value of Vy and make an acetone balance
around the top part of the tower.

If Vy = 10 mol
y = Vy/(Vy +V) = 10/(10 + 70) = 0.125
Lx = Vy - V
a
y
a
= 10 0.9 = 9.1 mol
x = Lx/(Lx + L
a
) = 9.1/(9.1 + 261.9) = 0.0336
L = Lx + L
a
= 9.1 + 261.9 = 271 mol

Similarly for Vy = 20 mol, we have
y = 20/(20 + 70) = 0.222
x =(20 0.9)/[(20 0.9) + 261.9] = 0.068

41

The equilibrium line is linear and easy to draw, y
e
= 1.9
x
e
. The number of ideal stages is 4 and a fraction.

Since l
1
/l
2
= 0.27 0.3, we conclude that 4.3 stages are
required.

42

2. Absorption-factor method for calculating the number
of ideal stages
Applicable when both operating and equilibrium
lines are straight (linear) over a given concentration
range x
a
to x
b

The solution is analytical

Let the equilibrium equation be
Y
e
=mx
e
+ B x
n
=
(
n
-B)
m

m & B are constants (because of linearity)

If stage n is ideal, y
n
is in equilibrium with x
n

Since the operating line is also linear, L/V is constant,
the operating line is
y
n+1
=
I
I
x
n
+
Iy
u
-Ix
u
I
=
I(y
n
-B)
mI
+y
u
-
Ix
u
I

Let A =
L
mv
which is called the absorption factor.
A is the ratio of the slope of the operating line, L/V, to
that of the equilibrium line, m. It is a constant when
both of these lines are straight.
y
n+1
= A(y
n
-B) +y
u
- Amx
u
= Ay
n
-A(mx
u
+B) +y
u

The quantity (mx
u
+B) is the concentration of the
vapor that is in equilibrium with the inlet L phase,
which has a concentration of x
a
. A symbol y* is used to
indicate the concentration of the a V phase in
equilibrium with a specified L phase. Then
y
u

= mx
u
+B
y
n+1
= Ay
n
-Ay
u

+y
u

43

For stage 1, n = 1, y
1
= y
a

y
2
= Ay
u
-Ay
u

+y
u
= y
u
(1 +A) -Ay
u

For stage 2, n = 2
y
3
= Ay
2
- Ay
u

+ y
u
= A|y
u
(1 + A) - Ay
u

] -Ay
u

+y
u
= y
u
(1 +A +A
2
) -y
u

(A + A
2
)
Similarly, for the nth stage, we have
y
n+1
= y
u
(1 +A + A
2
+ + A
n
)
-y
u

(A +A
2
+ + A
n
)
y
b
= y
u
(1 +A + A
2
++A
N
)
-y
u

(A +A
2
++A
N
)
The sum in the parenthesis is the sum of geometric
series, which is
S
n
=
o
1
(1 - r
n
)
1 -r

44

S
n
= sum of the first n terms of series
a
1
= first term
r = the ratio of each term to the proceeding term
Now we have r = A, a
1
= 1 (n=N+1) or A (n=N), so
y
b
= y
u
1 - A
N+1
1 - A
- y
u

A
1 - A
N
1 -A

Multiply (1-A) in both sides to obtain
y
b
-Ay
b
= y
u
-y
u
A
N+1
- y
u

A + y
u

A
N+1

Rearrange to get
A
N+1
(y
u
- y
u

) = A(y
b
-y
u

) + y
u
- y
b

For stage N, we have
y
b
= Ay
N
-Ay
u

+ y
u

Because y
N
= y
b

## , after rearrangement, we have

y
u
-y
b
= A(y
u

-y
N
) = A(y
u

-y
b

)

Hence,
A
N+1
(y
u
-y
u

) = A(y
b
-y
u

) +A(y
u

- y
b

)
= A(y
b
- y
b

)
A
N
=
y
b
-y
b

y
u
-y
u

Nln A = ln_
y
b
-y
b

y
u
-y
u

_
N = ln _
y
b
-y
b

y
u
-y
u

_ lnA
But
A =
slopc o tbc opcroting linc
slopc o tbc cquilibrium linc
=
y
b
-y
u
y
b

- y
u

45

So
N =
ln_
y
b
-y
b

y
u
-y
u

]
ln _
y
b
-y
u
y
b

-y
u

]

The various concentration differences in the above
equation are shown in the following figure.

Special case: the operating and equilibrium lines are
parallel, A = 1,
y
b
= y
u
(1 +A +A
2
+ + A
N
)
-y
u

(A +A
2
+ + A
N
) = y
u
(1 +N) -Ny
u

= y
u
+Ny
u
-Ny
u

= y
u
+N(y
u
-y
u

)

N =
y
b
- y
u
y
u
- y
u

=
y
b
- y
u
y
b
- y
b

46

Similarly, by using the concentration coordinate of x,
we have
N =
ln_
x
u
-x
u

x
b
-x
b

]
ln_
x
u
-x
b
x
u

-x
b

]
=
ln_
x
u
-x
u

x
b
-x
b

]
lnS

x* = equilibrium concentration corresponding to y
S = stripping factor = 1/A = mV/L
S
N
=
x
u
-x
u

x
b
-x
b

If S =1,
N =
x
u
-x
b
x
u
-x
u

=
x
u
-x
b
x
b
- x
b

47

Example 2: Ammonia is stripped from a dilute aqueous
solution by countercurrent contact with air in a column
containing seven sieve trays. The equilibrium
relationship is y
e
= 0.8 x
e
, and when the molar flow of
air is 1.5 times that of the solution, 90% of the ammonia
is removed.
(a) How many ideal stages does the column have,
and what is the stage efficiency?
(b) What percentage removal would be obtained if
the air flow rate were increased to 2.0 times the
solution flow rate?

(a) y
e
= 0.8 x
e
, m = 0.8
V/L = 1.5, N
T
= 7
So the stripping factor is
S =mV/L=0.8x1.5 =1.2
The entering air is free of
ammonia, so y
b
= 0
x
b

=

b
0.8
= u
x
b
= 0.1x
a
(90% removal)
For an ammonia balance:
L
a
x
a
+ V
b
y
b
= L
b
x
b
+ V
a
y
a

Because the solution is dilute, the quantity of ammonia
stripped is small, so L
a
= L
b
= L, V
a
= V
b
= V
Therefore,
y
u
=
I
I
(x
u
-x
b
) =
I
I
(x
u
- u.1x
u
) =
1
1.S
(u.9x
u
)
= u.6x
u

48

x
u

=
y
u
m
=
u.6x
u
u.8
= u.7Sx
u

The number of ideal stages is
N =
ln_
x
u
-x
u

x
b
-x
b

]
lnS
=
ln(u.2Sx
u
u.1x
u
)
ln1.2
= S.u2

Since the actual number of stages is 7, the stage
efficiency is 5.02/7 = 72%.

(b) If V/L = 2 and the number of ideal stages, N,
doesnt change, S = 0.8x2 = 1.6

Let f be the fraction of NH
3
removed, x
b
= (1- f)x
a

y
u
=
I
I
(x
u
-x
b
) =
1
2
(x
u
-(1 -)x
u
) = u.Sx
u

x
u

=
y
u
m
=
u.Sx
u
u.8
= u.62Sx
u

N = S.u2 =
ln _
x
u
- x
u

x
b
- x
b

]
ln S
=
ln((1 -u.62S)(1 -))
ln 1.6

1 -u.62S
1 -
= 1u.S8
f = 0.962 > 0.9. We can see that more ammonia is
removed by using more air.