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R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S.


Dynamic Model of Dividing Wall Column for Separation of Ternary

1a a a a b
Rajeev Kumar Dohare , Kailash Singh , Rajesh Kumar , Sushant Upadhyaya , Sourabh Gupta
Department of Chemical Engineering, Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur, India
Lurgi India Company Private Limited, New Delhi.

Nowadays the focus is on energy-saving technologies. Several techniques have been proposed in
order to improve the efficiency of distillation process; dividing-wall column is one of these
techniques. Conventionally, distillation columns are connected in series to separate
multicomponent mixtures into more than two product streams with high purity requirements.
However, in the dividing-wall column, middle section is divided into two sections by inserting a
vertical wall in the vessel at an appropriate position. Feed is introduced into the prefractionator
side of the wall. A side stream is removed from the main column. Therefore, a single dividing
wall column can separate a ternary mixture into three pure product streams. The side stream is
mostly the intermediate boiling component of the ternary mixture.
In the present study a mathematical model of the dividing wall column has been developed,
which incorporates the material balance, energy balance, and equilibrium relationships. A
MATLAB code and a CHEMCAD model were developed to predict the composition and
temperature profile of a benzene-toluene-o-xylene system. The effects of several parameters such
as reflux ratio, number of trays, feed composition, and splitting ratio have been discussed to find
the optimum operating conditions. This dynamic model can be further used to study the control
of the column. Several authors assumed DWC model to consist of four columns in sequence and
simulated in Aspen/ other software, but our work assumes a single column separated by a wall,
which was coded in MATLAB to study the steady state and dynamics of the system.

1. Introduction
Distillation is predominately used in the chemical and petroleum processing industries for liquid
separation techniques. The huge impact of distillation processes both on operation and
investment costs has motivated the development of various types of fully thermally coupled
distillation columns that can be used in saving energy and capital cost (Halvorsen et al., 2004).
The dividing wall column has achieved huge acceptance as an efficient means to implement the
fully thermally coupled configuration and has thus rapidly expanded its commercial applications.
DWC are especially advantageous for separating ternary mixtures. The schematic diagram of the
DWC is given in Fig.1, which is divided in four sections. Top section of the column is known as
a rectifying section, left section as prefractionator, right section as main column, and the bottom
section as stripping section. Feed consisting of 30% benzene, 30% toluene, and 40% o-xylene is
R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

introduced at 12th stage in the prefractionator. Almost pure toluene is withdrawn from 11th stage
of the main column. Benzene and o-xylene are obtained as top and bottom products,

(Section-1) Benzene
8 trays


Main column

30% Benzene
24 trays

24 trays
30% Toluene Toluene
40% o-xylene at 11th tray
at 12th tray

12 trays



Fig: 1 Schematic diagram of the DWC

For the separation of the three component mixture into pure products, at least a sequence of two
simple distillation columns is needed. Each of these columns has a rectifying and a stripping
section. So the minimum number of column sections is four to receive pure products (Stupin and
Lockhart, 1972). If one reboiler for each stripping section and one condenser for each rectifying
section are used, then this leads to the conventional distillation sequences: direct and indirect
In the separation of the ternary mixtures, dividing wall column (DWC) possesses a significant
advantage in energy saving by avoiding the remixing problem that occurs in a conventional
sequential two-column system. This column also reduces space and investment requirements
over conventional distillation configurations. It is a promising energysaving alternative for
separating multi-component mixtures (Serra et al., 1999). Due to the wall, which divides the
space in the column, the feed and the side stream product zones are separated. This wall
prevents contamination of the side stream by the feed stream. The dividing wall column has
greater efficiency than conventional column sequence (Hernadez et al., 2006).
The dividing wall column prevents the lateral mixing of liquid and vapour streams in the
distillation column. Heat transfer across the dividing wall can be avoided by thermal insulation
of the dividing wall. Especially if very high purities are needed in packed columns, insulation

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

might be useful to suppress undesired wall flow of liquid. Mostly the dividing wall is placed in
the middle, but off-centre positions of the dividing wall are also possible. This might be useful in
situations, when the concentration of the medium boiling component is small compared to the
overhead and bottom products (Asprion and Kaibel, 2010).
Van Diggelen et al. (2010) proposed a model of DWC with the assumptions of constant pressure,
no vapor flow dynamics, liberalized liquid dynamics, and neglecting energy balance and
changes in enthalpy. They used this model to compare various control strategies. Hiller (2010)
developed a nonequilibrium stage model by assuming heat and mass transfer between the liquid
and vapor phases for ideal components system. Woinaroschy and Isopescu (2010) used a
dynamic model for minimizing the distillation start-up time for separation of an ideal benzene-
toluene-ethylbenzene ternary mixture and the separation of a non-ideal methanol-ethanol-1-
propanol mixture.
In this paper, a mathematical model of a dividing wall column has been developed assuming
non-constant volatility. Several simulation runs of the model have been used to investigate the
effects of several parameters and dynamics of the system.

2. Mathematical Model
The volume holdup of condenser/reflux drum has been assumed constant. For the rectification
section, prefractionator, main column, and stripping section:
Mass balance for component i,
d (M j x j,i )
= V j +1 y j +1,i + L j 1 x j 1,i V j y j,i L j x j,i + F j z j,i S j x j,i

where j = 1:n1 and i=1: nc.

Summation Equations : x j ,i =1 ; y j ,i =1
i i

d (H L , j M j )
Energy Balance: = V j +1 H V j +1 + L j 1 H L j 1 V j H V j L j H L j + F j H F j S j H L j

j ,i Pj ,i sat
Equilibrium relationship: y j ,i = K j ,i x j ,i , where, K j ,i =

For the condenser,

d (M 0 x D ,i )
Material Balance: = V1 y1,i + L0 x D ,i Dx D ,i
d (M 0 H D )
Energy Balance: = V1HV ,1 L0 H L ,0 DH D qC
R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

Summation equation: x D ,i =1

For the reboiler,

d (M R xw,i )
Material Balance: = Ln4 xn4 ,i Vn4 +1 yn4 +1,i wxn4 +1,i
d M n4 +1 H L ,n4 +1 )
Energy Balance: = L n4 H L , n H V , n4 +1V n4 +1 wH L ,n4 +1 + q R
dt 4

Equilibrium Relationship: y n4 +1,i = K n4 +1,i x w,i

Summation Equations: x n 4 +1, i = 1 and y n 4 +1, i =1

i i

At the intersection of rectifying section (section 1) with prefractionator (Section 2) and main
column (Section 3):
Vapour Mixing: Vn(11+)1 = V1( 2 ) + V1( 3)

Vn(11+)1 y n(11 )+1,i = V1( 2) y1(,2i ) + V1( 3) y1(,3i )

Liquid Splitting: L(02) = L(n11) , L(03) = (1 )L(n11) where is liquid split factor.

x0( 2,i) = x n(11 ),i , x0( 3,i) = x n(11 ),i

At the intersection of Section 2 and 3 with Section 4 (Stripping Section):

Vapour splitting: Vn(22+)1 = V1( 4) ; Vn(23+)1 = (1 )V1( 4 ) , where is vapour splitting factor.

y n( 22 +) 1,i = y1(,4i ) ; y n(32 )+1,i = y1(,4i )

Liquid Mixing: L(04) = L(n22) + L(n32)

L(n22) xn( 22 ,)i + L(n32) xn( 32 ),i = L(04 ) x0( 4,i)

A MATLAB code was written for this model. These model equations are set of ordinary
differential equations-initial value problems, which were solved by ode15s (an ODE solver in

3. Results and Discussion

The data for simulation is given in Table 1. The simulation was run by varying several
parameters such as reflux ratio, feed stage, liquid split factor, vapor split factor, bottoms rate,
side-stream flow rate, and feed composition to investigate the effects of these parameters on the

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

product composition. All the variables were kept fixed except the variable, the effect of which
was studied.

Table 1 Data used for simulation of the model equations

Parameter Value
Total number of trays in section-1 8
Total number of trays in section-2 24
Total number of trays in section-3 24
Total number of trays in section-4 12
Feed tray location 12th stage of prefractionator
Side-stream tray location 11th stage of main column
Feed flow rate 1000 mols/s
Side-stream flow rate 296 mols/s
Bottom product flow rate 401 mols/s
Feed temperature 85 oC
Feed composition 30% benzene, 30% toluene, 40% o-xylene
Pressure at top 37492 Pa
Pressure drop at each tray 689 Pa
Reflux ratio 2.84
Reboiler duty 40.544 MJ/s
Liquid split factor 0.353
Vapor split factor 0.627

3.1 Effect of Reflux Ratio

In the dividing wall column, reflux ratio plays an important role. For a reflux ratio of 2, only
benzene composition is more than 90% and rest of the two products (i.e. toluene and xylene) are
less than 90% as shown in Fig. 2. On increasing reflux ratio, purity of all the components
increases up to the reflux ratio of 2.84, beyond which the composition does not improve.
Therefore, reflux ratio of 2.84 is the optimum.

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

3.2 Effect of Feed Stage

Selection of feed stage is an important factor for product purity, the effect of which is shown in
Fig. 3. The position of the feed stage has minimal effect on product purity yet as the feed stage
in the prefractionator is lowered, the o-xylene purity increases, however, toluene purity
decreases. Benzene mole fraction also decreases for the feed stage lower than 12. Therefore,
stage number 12 is almost the optimum feed stage, at which all the product compositions are
almost 99% pure.

Product Composition



0.7 To luene

o -Xylene

2 2.25 2.5 2.75 3 3.25 3.5 3.75 4 4.25 4.5

Reflux Ratio

Fig. 2: Effect of reflux ratio in dividing wall column


B enzene

To luene
o -Xylene
Product Composition



9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Feed Stages

Fig. 3: Effect of feed stage location

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

3.3 Effect of Liquid Split factor

The liquid split factor in the dividing wall column decides how much quantity of the liquid will
enter the prefractionator from the rectifying section. As we are supplying the feed in the
prefractionator column, the fraction of liquid to be distributed coming from the rectifying
section should be less in comparison with the main column to maintain the liquid hold up in
both sections. Increasing the liquid split ratio from 0.3 to 0.4, the purity of toluene and o-xylene
decreases from 99.8% to 94.6% and 99.7% to 96%, respectively as shown in Fig. 4, however,
benzene purity is not affected much.

Product Composition



B enzene

To luene
o -Xylene

0.29 0.31 0.33 0.35 0.37 0.39 0.41
Liquid Split

Fig. 4: Effect of Liquid Splitting on Product Composition

3.4 Effect of Vapour Split factor

The vapour split factor in the dividing wall column decides how much quantity of the vapour
will enter in the prefractionator from stripping section. Increasing the vapour split ratio from
0.575 to 0.675, the purity of all the products increases, however, benzene becomes almost
constant at 98.9% after a gradual increase up to a split ratio of 0.62 as shown in Fig. 5.

3.5 Effect of Bottoms Rate

The bottoms rate directly affects the purity of all the components as shown in Fig. 6. As we
increase the bottom flow rate, purity of the bottom product will decrease as other components
will also enter into the bottoms. At 0.325 kmol/sec of bottoms rate, xylene is almost 98% and
R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

rest two components are below 80%. On continuously increasing the bottoms rate up to 0.4
kmol/sec, compositions of benzene and toluene get improved, however, xylene remains almost
constant. Furthermore, on increasing the bottoms rate beyond 0.4 kmol/s, toluene and xylene
purities decrease, however, benzene becomes almost constant. Therefore, bottoms rate of 0.4
kmol/s is almost optimum.

Product Composition



0.96 B enzene
To luene

0.95 o -Xylene

0.56 0.58 0.6 0.62 0.64 0.66 0.68
Vapour Split

Fig. 5: Effect of vapour splitting on product composition

Product Composition


B enzene
To luene

o -Xylene

0.3 0.325 0.35 0.375 0.4 0.425 0.45 0.475
Bottom Rate (km ol/s)

Fig. 6: Effect of bottoms rate on product composition

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

3.6 Effect of Side Stage

Side stream stage position decides the purity of the intermediate component, i.e., toluene. The
effect of changing the side stage location is shown in Fig. 7. There is appreciable drop in toluene
and o-xylene purity on lowering down the side stage location from 9 to 10, after which there is a
slight increase in the purity. However, benzene purity does not vary much. Therefore, side
product withdrawal stage should be below 10th stage downwards.

Product Composition



5 7 9 11 13 15 17

Side Stage position

Fig. 7: Effect of side stage location in dividing wall distillation column

3.7 Effect of Benzene Composition in Feed

The effect of benzene composition in feed is as shown in Fig 8. While changing the benzene
composition, the other two components were assumed to be in the same proportion. At 30
mole% benzene in the feed, all the product purities are nearly 98%, but as its composition
increases up to 31.7% all the product have more than 99% purity. However, there is a decreasing
trend afterwards.

3.8 Effect of o-Xylene Composition in Feed

The effect of o-xylene composition is shown in Fig. 9. While changing the o-xylene
composition, the other two components were assumed to be in the same proportion. Purity of
benzene is constant up to 40% o-xylenein the feed after which, it suddenly decreases. Moreover,
xylene purity in the product increases up to 40% and then it becomes constant on further
increasing xylene composition. Toluene purity increases with the xylene composition up to 40%
after which it starts decreasing.
R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta


Product Composition




0.986 o-Xylene

0.29 0.3 0.31 0.32 0.33 0.34

Benzene Com position

Fig. 8: Effect of benzene composition in feed


Products Composition





0.3 Benzene

0.3 0.33 0.36 0.39 0.42 0.45
o-xylene com position

Fig. 9: Effect of o-xylene composition in feed

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

3.9 Dynamic Response of Dividing Wall Column

A step change was given in liquid split factor to study the response of the composition of all the
three products. Figure 10 (a) and (b) show the results for +10% and -10%, respectively. The
composition of all the three products drop with increase in the liquid split factor, however, they
rise for the decrease in the liquid split factor. As can be observed, the dynamics of toluene
composition is the fastest because of the change in the liquid flow rate in the main column;
however it is the slowest for o-xylene due to the farthest distance from the location of change.

1 1
0.995 Benzene
0.985 0.996


0.98 0.995
0.992 o-Xylene
0.965 0.991
0.96 0.99

0.955 0.989
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 Time(Sec)

(a) (b)

Fig.10: Dynamics of DWC for step change of (a) +10% (b) -10% in liquid split factor

4. Conclusions
A mathematical model has been developed for a dividing wall column, which has been used to
investigate the parametric effects of several parameters such as reflux ratio, feed stage, liquid
split factor, vapor split factor, bottoms rate, side stage location, and the feed composition. On
increasing reflux ratio, there is improvement in the purity of all the three products up to a reflux
ratio of 2.84, beyond which there is no significant improvement. There is no major effect of feed
stage location on the product purity on varying the feed stage location from 10th stage to 14th
stage. The effect of liquid split factor is not so much on benzene purity, however, toluene and
o-xylene purities decrease on increasing the liquid split factor. All the three product purities are
sensitive to the vapor-split factor; they increase on increasing the vapor-split factor. The
optimum bottoms rate comes out to be 0.4 kmol/s. Side-product location should be 10th stage
downwards. The product purities are sensitive to feed composition and therefore may adversely
affect the process, which may require re-adjusting the product flow-rates.
R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta


Mj Total liquid hold on jth stage, moles

x j,i Mole fraction of ith components in liquid phase at jth stage

Vj Vapour flow rate from jth stage, mole/s

Lj Liquid flow rate from jth stage, mole/s

y j,i Mole fraction of ith components in vapour phase at jth stage

Fj Feed flow rate on jth stage, mole/s

Z j,i Mole fraction of ith component in feed at jth stage

Sj Side stream flow rate at jth stage, mole/s

nk Number of stages in kth section (k=1,2, 3, and 4)

nc Number of component=3

HL j Liquid enthalpy on jth stage, joule/mole

HV j Vapour enthalpy on jth stage, joule/mole

Saturation pressure of ith component at jth stage, pa

Pj ,i

Pj Pressure on jth stage, pa

M0 Liquid holdup in condenser, moles

x D ,i Mole fraction of ith component in distillate

L0 Reflux rate, mole/s

D Distillate rate, mole/s

HD Liquid enthalpy of distillate, joule/mol

qC Condenser duty, joule/s

MR Liquid holdup in reboiler, mole

R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

x w ,i Mole fraction of ith component in bottom product

w Bottom product flow rate, mole/s

Greek symbols
Liquid split factor
Vapour split factor

j ,i Activity coefficient of ith component in liquid phase at jth stage

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R. K. Dohare, K. Singh, R. Kumar, S. Upadhyaya, S. Gupta

Biography of Presenter

Rajeev Kumar Dohare has a B.E from NIT Surat in 2002 and M.Tech from Aligarh Muslim University,
Aligarh, India in 2006 with first class. Now he is working as Assistant Professor in the Department of
Chemical Engineering at Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur. He is also currently pursuing
Ph.D. on Dividing wall Column from the same institute. His Research areas are process modeling,
simulation and control, solid waste management, fluid mechanics, and processes optimization.