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MODULE 5: DISTILLATION

LECTURE NO. 1

5.1. Introduction

Distillation is method of separation of components from a liquid mixture which

depends on the differences in boiling points of the individual components and the

distributions of the components between a liquid and gas phase in the mixture.

The liquid mixture may have different boiling point characteristics depending on

the concentrations of the components present in it. Therefore, distillation

processes depends on the vapor pressure characteristics of liquid mixtures. The

vapor pressure is created by supplying heat as separating agent. In the

distillation, the new phases differ from the original by their heat content. During

most of the century, distillation was by far the most widely used method for

separating liquid mixtures of chemical components (Seader and Henley, 1998).

This is a very energy intensive technique, especially when the relative volatility of

the components is low. It is mostly carried out in multi tray columns. Packed

column with efficient structured packing has also led to increased use in

distillation.

Vapor Pressure: The vaporization process changes liquid to gaseous state. The

opposite process of this vaporization is called condensation. At equilibrium, the

rates of these two processes are same. The pressure exerted by the vapor at this

equilibrium state is termed as the vapor pressure of the liquid. It depends on the

temperature and the quantity of the liquid and vapor. From the following

Clausius-Clapeyron Equation or by using Antoine Equation, the vapor pressure

can be calculated.

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Clausius-Clapeyron Equation:

p v 1 1

ln v (5.1)

p1 R T1 T

where p v and p1v are the vapor pressures in Pascal at absolute temperature T

and T1 in K. λ is the molar latent heat of vaporization which is independent of

temperature.

Antoine Equation:

B (5.2)

ln p v (Pascal) A

T C

Typical representative values of the constants A, B and C are given in the

following Table 5.1 (Ghosal et al., 1993)

Table 5.1: Typical representative values of the constants A, B and C

Components Range of A B C

Temperature (T),

K

Acetone 241-350 21.5439 2940.46 -35.93

Ammonia 179-261 21.8407 2132.50 -32.98

Benzene 280-377 20.7934 2788.51 -52.36

Ethanol 270-369 21.8045 3803.98 -41.68

Methanol 257-364 23.4801 3626.55 -34.29

Toluene 280-410 20.9063 3096.52 -53.67

Water 284-441 23.1962 3816.44 -46.13

Readers are suggested to revise the thermodynamics for more about vapor

pressure and boiling point.

For binary mixture phase diagram only two-component mixture, (e.g. A (more

volatile) and B (less volatile)) are considered. There are two types of phase

diagram: constant pressure and constant temperature.

The Figure 5.1 shows a constant pressure phase diagram for an ideal solution

(one that obeys Raoult's Law). At constant pressure, depending on relative

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are possible for mixture of liquids (solutions) as shown in phase disgram diagram

(Figure 5.1). For mixture, the temperature is called bubble point temperature

when the liquid starts to boil and dew point when the vapor starts to condense.

Boiling of a liquid mixture takes place over a range of boiling points. Likewise,

condensation of a vapor mixture takes place over a range of condensation

points. The upper curve in the boiling point diagram is called the dew-point curve

(DPC) while the lower one is called the bubble-point curve (BPC). At each

temperature, the vapor and the liquid are in equilibrium. The constant pressure

phase diagram is more commonly used in the analysis of vapor-liquid

equilibrium.

The constant temperature phase diagram is shown in Figure 5.2. The constant

temperature phase diagram is useful in the analysis of solution behaviour. The

more volatile liquid will have a higher vapor pressure (i.e. pA at xA = 1.0)

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Relative volatility is a measure of the differences in volatility between two

components, and hence their boiling points. It indicates how easy or difficult a

particular separation will be. The relative volatility of component ‘A’ with respect

to component ‘B’ in a binary mixture is defined as

y A / xA

AB (5.3)

y B / xB

where, yA = mole fraction of component ‘A’ in the vapor, xA = mole fraction of

component ‘A’ in the liquid. In general, relative volatility of a mixture changes with

the mixture composition. For binary mixture, xB = 1-xA. So Equation (5.3) can be

rearranged, simplifying and expressed by dropping subscript 'A' for more volatile

component as:

ave x

y (5.4)

1 ( ave 1) x

can be used to determine the equilibrium relationship (y vs. x) provided the

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average relative volatility, ave is known. If the system obeys Raoult’s law, i.e

p A Py A , pB Py B , the relative volatility can be expressed as:

pA / xA

AB (5.5)

p B / xB

where pA is the partial pressure of component A in the vapor, pB is the partial

pressure of component B in the vapor and P is the total pressure of the system.

Thus if the relative volatility between two components is equal to one, separation

is not possible by distillation. The larger the value of , above 1.0, the greater the

degree of separability, i.e. the easier the separation. Some examples of optimal

relative volatility that are used for distillation process design are given in Table

5.2.

Table 5.2: Some optimal relative volatility that are used for distillation process design

(normal boiling point oC) (normal boiling point, oC) volatility

Benzene (80.1) Toluene (110.6) 2.34

Toluene (110.6) p-Xylene (138.3) 2.31

Benzene (80.6) p-Xylene (138.3) 4.82

m-Xylene (139.1) p-Xylene (138.3) 1.02

Pentane (36.0) Hexane (68.7) 2.59

Hexane (68.7) Heptane (98.5) 2.45

Hexane (68.7) p-Xylene (138.3) 7.0

Ethanol (78.4) iso-Propanol (82.3) 1.17

iso-Propanol (82.3) n-Propanol (97.3) 1.78

Ethanol (78.4) n-Propanol (97.3) 2.10

Methanol (64.6) Ethanol (78.4) 1.56

Methanol (64.6) iso-Propanol (82.3) 2.26

Chloroform (61.2) Acetic acid (118.1) 6.15

It is useful for graphical design in determining the number of theoretical stages

required for a distillation column. A typical equilibrium curve for a binary mixture

on x-y plot is shown in Figure 5.3. It can be plotted by the Equations (5.4) or (5.5)

as discussed earlier section. It contains less information than the phase diagram

(i.e. temperature is not included), but it is most commonly used. The VLE plot

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pressure. The curved line in Figure 5.3 is called the equilibrium line and it

describes the compositions of the liquid and vapor in equilibrium at some fixed

pressure. The equilibrium line can be obtained from the Equation (5.4) once the

relative volatility is known.

R² = 0.999

Mole fraction of benzene in vapour, y

Equilibrium curve

This particular VLE plot (Figure 5.3) shows a binary ideal mixture that has a

uniform vapor-liquid equilibrium that is relatively easy to separate. On the other

hand, the VLE plots shown in Figure 5.4 represented for non-ideal systems.

These non-ideal VLE systems will present more difficult separation.

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azeotrope is a liquid mixture which when vaporized, produces the same

composition as the liquid. Two types of azeotropes are known: minimum-boiling

and maximum-boiling (less common). Ethanol-water system (at 1 atm, 89.4 mole

%, 78.2 oC; Carbon-disulfide - acetone (61.0 mole% CS2, 39.25 oC, 1 atm) and

Benzene - water (29.6 mole% H2O, 69.25 oC, 1 atm) are minimum-boiling

azeotropes. Hydrochloric acid - water (11.1 mole% HCl, 110 oC, 1 atm); Acetone

- chloroform (65.5 mole% chloroform, 64.5 oC, 1 atm) are the examples of

Maximum-boiling azeotropes. The Figure 5.5 shows two different azeotropic

systems, one with a minimum boiling point (Figure 5.5a) and one with a

maximum boiling point (Figure 5.5b). The points of intersections of the

equilibrium curves with the diagonal lines are called azeotropic points. An

azeotrope cannot be separated by conventional distillation. However, vacuum

distillation may be used as the lower pressures which can shift the azeotropic

point.

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Figure 5.5: VLE curves for azeotropic systems: (a) for maximum boiling point, (b) for minimum

boiling point

pressure, it is not uncommon to distill at other pressures. High pressure

distillation (typically 3 - 20 atm) usually occurs in thermally integrated processes.

In those cases the equilibrium curve becomes narrower at higher pressures as

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MODULE 5: DISTILLATION

LECTURE NO. 2

There are many types of distillation columns each of which is designed to

perform specific types of separations. One way of classifying distillation column

type is to look at how they are operated. Based on operation, they are of two

types: batch or differential and continuous columns.

calculation

In batch operation, the feed is introduced batch-wise to the column. That is, the

column is charged with a 'batch' and then the distillation process is carried out.

When the desired task is achieved, a next batch of feed is introduced. Consider a

binary mixture of components A (more volatile) and B (less volatile). The system

consists of a batch of liquid (fixed quantity) inside a kettle (or still) fitted with

heating element and a condenser to condense the vapor produced as shown in

Figure 5.7. The condensed vapor is known as the distillate. The distillate is

collected in a condensate receiver. The liquid remaining in the still is known as

the residual. The process is unsteady state. The concentration changes can be

analyzed using the phase diagram, and detailed mathematical calculations

carried out using the Rayleigh Equation. Readers are suggested to follow chapter

9 (Page 369) of text book “Mass-transfer operations” by R. E Treybal, third

edition. As the process is unsteady state, the derivation is based on a differential

approach to changes in concentration with time. Let L1 = initial moles of liquid

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composition in still (mole fraction of A), x2 = final liquid composition in still (mole

fraction A). At any time t, the amount of liquid in the still is L, with mole fraction of

A in the liquid being x. After a small differential time (t + dt), a small amount of

vapor dL is produced, and the composition of A in the vapor is y (mole fraction).

The vapor is assumed to be in equilibrium with the residue liquid. The amount of

liquid in the still is thus reduced from L to (L - dL), while the liquid composition

changed from x to (x - dx). Then the material balance on A can be written as:

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or

Neglecting the term (dx)(dL), the Equation (5.7) may be written as:

Re-arranging and Integrating from L1 to L2, and from x1 to x2, one can obtain the

following Equation which is called Rayleigh Equation:

L x1 1

ln 1 dx (5.9)

x2 ( y x )

L2

The integration of Equation (5.9) can be obtained graphically from the equilibrium

curve, by plotting 1/(y-x) versus x.

A mixture of 40 mole % isopropanol in water is to be batch-distilled at 1 atm until

70 mole % of the charge has been vaporized. Calculate the composition of the

liquid residue remaining in the still pot, and the average composition of the

collected distillate. VLE data for this system, in mole fraction of isopropanol, at 1

atm are (Seader and Henley, 1998):

Temp.(K) 366 357 355.1 354.3 353.6 353.2 353.3 354.5

y 0.220 0.462 0.524 0.569 0.593 0.682 0.742 0.916

x 0.012 0.084 0.198 0.350 0.453 0.679 0.769 0.944

Solution 5.1:

Calculate 1/(y-x)

As per Rayleigh Equation

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L 1

ln 1

x1

dx

2 ( y x)

L2 x

x1= 0.4

Feed L1 = 100

Distillate (D) = 70

Liquid residue as L2 = L1-D = 30

L 1

Find x2 by equating ln 1

x1

dx

2 ( y x)

L2 x

L1 x1 L2 x2

yD 0.543

D

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

MODULE 5: DISTILLATION

LECTURE NO. 3

In contrast, continuous columns process a continuous feed stream. No

interruptions occur unless there is a problem with the column or surrounding

process units. They are capable of handling high throughputs. Continuous

column is the more common of the two types.

Continuous columns can be further classified according to the nature of the feed

that they are processing:

Binary distillation column: feed contains only two components

Multi-component distillation column: feed contains more than two

components the number of product streams they have

Multi-product distillation column: column has more than two product streams

where the extra feed exits when it is used to help with the separation,

Extractive distillation: where the extra feed appears in the bottom product

stream

Azeotropic distillation: where the extra feed appears at the top product stream

the type of column internals.

Tray distillation column: where trays of various designs are used to hold up the

liquid to provide better contact between vapor and liquid, hence better

separation. The details of the tray column are given in Module 4.

Packed distillation column: where instead of trays, 'packings' are used to

enhance contact between vapor and liquid. The details of the packed column are

given in Module 4.

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vaporized. The vapor produced and the residual liquids are in equilibrium in the

process are separated and removed as shown in Figure 5.8. Consider a binary

mixture of A (more volatile component) and B (less volatile component). The feed

is preheated before entering the separator. As such, part of the feed may be

vaporized. The heated mixture then flows through a pressure-reducing valve to

the separator. In the separator, separation between the vapor and liquid takes

place. The amount of vaporization affects the concentration (distribution) of A in

vapor phase and liquid phase. The relationship between the scale of vaporization

and mole fraction of A in vapor and liquid (y and x) is known as the Operating

Line Equation. Define f as molal fraction of the feed that is vaporized and

withdrawn continuously as vapor. Therefore, for 1 mole of binary feed mixture,

(1- f) is the molal fraction of the feed that leaves continuously as liquid. Assume,

yD = mole fraction of A in vapor leaving, xB = mole fraction of A in liquid leaving,

xF = mole fraction of A in feed entering. Based on the definition for f, the greater

the heating is, the larger the value of f. If the feed is completely vaporized, then f

= 1.0 Thus, the value of f can varies from 0 (no vaporization) to 1 (total

vaporization). From material balance for the more volatile component (A) one can

write

1.x F fy D (1 f ) x B (5.10)

Or,

fy D x F (1 f ) x B (5.11)

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1 f x

y D x B F (5.12)

f f

The fraction f depends on the enthalpy of the liquid feed, the enthalpies of the

vapor and liquid leaving the separator. For a given feed condition, and hence the

known value of f and xF, the Equation (5.12) is a straight line Equation with slope

- (1-f)/f and intercept xF/f as shown in Figure 5.9. It will intersect the equilibrium

line at the point (xB, yD). From this value, the composition of the vapor and liquid

leaving the separator can be obtained.

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A general schematic diagram of a multistage counter-current binary distillation

operation is shown in Figure 4.10. The operation consists of a column containing

the equivalent N number of theoretical stages arranged in a two-section cascade;

a condenser in which the overhead vapor leaving the top stage is condensed to

give a liquid distillate product and liquid reflux that is returned to the top stage; a

reboiler in which liquid from the bottom stage is vaporized to give a liquid bottom

products and the vapor boil off returned to the bottom stage; accumulator is a

horizontal (usually) pressure vessel whereby the condensed vapor is collected;

Heat exchanger where the hot bottoms stream is used to heat up the feed stream

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before it enters the distillation column. The feed enters the column at feed stage

contains more volatile components (called light key, LK) and less volatile

components (called heavy key, HK). At the feed stage feed may be liquid, vapor

or mixture of liquid and vapor. The section above the feed where vapor is

washed with the reflux to remove or absorb the heavy key is called enriching or

rectifying section. The section below the feed stage where liquid is stripped of the

light key by the rising vapor is called stripping section.

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MODULE 5: DISTILLATION

LECTURE NO. 4

Thiele Method

McCabe and Thiele (1925) developed a graphical method to determine the

theoretical number of stages required to effect the separation of a binary mixture

(McCabe and Smith, 1976). This method uses the equilibrium curve diagram to

determine the number of theoretical stages (trays) required to achieve a desired

degree of separation. It assumes constant molar overflow and this implies that: (i)

molal heats of vaporization of the components are roughly the same; (ii) heat

effects are negligible. The information required for the systematic calculation are

the VLE data, feed condition (temperature, composition), distillate and bottom

compositions; and the reflux ratio, which is defined as the ratio of reflux liquid

over the distillate product. For example, a column is to be designed for the

separation of a binary mixture as shown in Figure 5.11.

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component, and a distillate having a concentration of xD of the more volatile

component and a bottoms having a concentration of xB is desired. In its essence,

the method involves the plotting on the equilibrium diagram three straight lines:

the rectifying section operating line (ROL), the feed line (also known as the q-

line) and the stripping section operating line (SOL). An important parameter in

the analysis of continuous distillation is the Reflux Ratio, defined as the quantity

of liquid returned to the distillation column over the quantity of liquid withdrawn as

product from the column, i.e. R = L / D. The reflux ratio R is important because

the concentration of the more volatile component in the distillate (in mole fraction

xD) can be changed by changing the value of R. The steps to be followed to

determine the number of theoretical stages by McCabe-Thiele Method:

Determination the feed condition (q).

Determination of the feed section operating line (q-line).

Determination of required reflux ratio (R).

Determination of the stripping section operating line (SOL).

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Consider the rectifying section as shown in the Figure 5.12. Material balance can

be written around the envelope shown in Figure 5.12:

Vn1 Ln D (5.13)

Consider the constant molal flow in the column, and then one can write: L1 = L2 =

.......... Ln-1 = Ln = Ln+1 = L = constant and V1 = V2 = .......... Vn-1 = Vn = Vn+1 = V =

constant. Thus, the Equation (5.15) becomes:

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L D

y n 1 xn xD (5.17)

L D L D

Introducing reflux ratio defined as: R = L/D, the Equation (5.17) can be expressed

as:

R 1

y n 1 xn xD (5.18)

R 1 R 1

The Equation (5.18) is the rectifying section operating line (ROL) Equation having

slope R/(R+1) and intercept, xD/(R+1) as shown in Figure 5.13. If xn = xD, then

yn+1 = xD, the operating line passed through the point (xD, xD) on the 45o diagonal

line. When the reflux ratio R changed, the ROL will change. Generally the

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

subscript the ROL is expresses as:

R 1

y x xD (5.19)

R 1 R 1

The feed enters the distillation column may consists of liquid, vapor or a mixture

of both. Some portions of the feed go as the liquid and vapor stream to the

rectifying and stripping sections. The moles of liquid flow in the stripping section

that result from the introduction of each mole of feed, denoted as ‘q’. The

limitations of the q-value as per feed conditions are shown in Table 5.3.

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cold feed (below bubble point) q>1

feed at bubble point (saturated liquid) q=1

feed as partially vaporized 0<q<1

feed at dew point (saturated vapor) q=0

feed as superheated vapor q<0

feed is a mixture of liquid and vapor q is the fraction of the feed that is liquid

Calculation of q-value

Other than saturated liquid (q = 1) and saturated vapor (q = 0), the feed condition

is uncertain. In that case one must calculate the value of q. The q-value can be

obtained from enthalpy balance around the feed plate. By enthalpy balance one

can obtain the q-value from the following form of Equation:

HV H F

q (5.20)

HV H L

where HF, HV and HL are enthalpies of feed, vapor and liquid respectively which

can be obtained from enthalpy-concentration diagram for the mixture.

q can be alternatively defined as the heat required to convert 1 mole of feed from

its entering condition to a saturated vapor; divided by the molal latent heat of

vaporization. Based on this definition, one can calculate the q-value from the

following Equations for the case whereby q > 1 (cold liquid feed) and q < 0

(superheated vapor feed) as:

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C p , L (Tbp TF )

q (5.21)

C p ,V (Tdp TF )

q (5.22)

where Tbp is the bubble point, is the latent heat of vaporization and Tdp is the

dew point of the feed respectively.

Consider the section of the distillation column (as shown in Figure 5.11) at the

tray (called feed tray) where the feed is introduced. In the feed tray the feed is

introduced at F moles/hr with liquid of q fraction of feed and vapor of (1-f) fraction

of feed as shown in Figure 5.14. Overall material balance around the feed tray:

L L qF and V V (1 q) F (5.23)

Component balances for the more volatile component in the rectifying and

stripping sections are:

Vy Lx DxD (5.24)

V y Lx Bx B (5.25)

At the feed point where the two operating lines (Equations (5.24) and (5.25)

intersect can be written as:

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Figure 5.14: Feed tray with fraction of liquid and vapor of feed

Fx F DxD Bx B (5.27)

Substituting L-L’ and V-V’ from Equations (5.23) and (5.24) into Equation (5.26)

and with Equation (5.27) one can get the q-line Equation after rearranging as:

q 1

y x x F (5.28)

1 q 1 q

For a given feed condition, xF and q are fixed, therefore the q-line is a straight

line with slope -q / (1-q) and intercept xF/(1-q). If x = xF , then from Equation

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

(5.28) y = xF. At this condition the q-line passes through the point (xF, xF) on the

45o diagonal. Different values of q will result in different slope of the q-line.

Different q-lines for different feed conditions are shown in Figure 5.15.

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

MODULE 5: DISTILLATION

LECTURE NO. 5

The stripping section operating line (SOL) can be obtained from the ROL and q-

line without doing any material balance. The SOL can be drawn by connecting

point xB on the diagonal to the point of intersection between the ROL and q-line.

The SOL will change if q-line is changed at fixed ROL. The change of SOL with

different q-lines for a given ROL at constant R and xD is shown in Figure 5.16.

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

The stripping section operating line can be derived from the material balance

around the stripping section of the distillation column. The stripping section of a

distillation column is shown in Figure 5.17. The reboiled vapor is in equilibrium

with bottoms liquid which is leaving the column.

Consider the constant molal overflow in the column. Thus L'm = L'm+1 = .... = L' =

constant and V'm = V'm+1 = ..... = V' = constant.

L V B (5.29)

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L B

y m1 xm x B (5.31)

V V

L B

y x xB (5.32)

V V

Substituting V' = L' – B from Equation (5.29), the Equation (5.32) can be written

as:

L B

y x xB (5.33)

L B L B

The Equation (5.33) is called the stripping operating line (SOL) which is a straight

line with slope ( L' / L' - B) and intercept ( BxB / L' - B ). When x = xB , y = xB, the

SOL passes through (xB, xB ) on the 45o diagonal line.

the feed has a concentration of xF (mole fraction) of the more volatile component

and a distillate having a concentration of xD of the more volatile component

whereas the bottoms having a desired concentration of xB. Once the three lines

(ROL, SOL and q-line) are drawn, the number of theoretical stages required for a

given separation is then the number of triangles that can be drawn between

these operating lines and the equilibrium curve. The last triangle on the diagram

represents the reboiler. A typical representation is given in Figure 5.18.

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

Reflux Ratio, R

The separation efficiency by distillation depends on the reflux ratio. For a given

separation (i.e. constant xD and xB) from a given feed condition (xF and q), higher

reflux ratio (R) results in lesser number of required theoretical trays (N) and vice

versa. So there is an inverse relationship between the reflux ratio and the

number of theoretical stages. At a specified distillate concentration, xD, when R

changes, the slope and intercept of the ROL changes (Equation (5.19)). From the

Equation (5.19), when R increases (with xD constant), the slope of ROL becomes

steeper, i.e. (R/R+1) and the intercept (xD/R+1) decreases. The ROL therefore

rotates around the point (xD, xD). The reflux ratio may be any value between a

minimum value and an infinite value. The limit is the minimum reflux ratio (result

in infinite stages) and the total reflux or infinite reflux ratio (result in minimum

stages). With xD constant, as R decreases, the slope (R/R+1) of ROL (Equation

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(5.19)) decreases, while its intercept (xD/R+1) increases and rotates upwards

around (xD, xD) as shown in Figure 5.19. The ROL moves closer to the

equilibrium curve as R decreases until point Q is reached. Point Q is the point of

intersection between the q-line and the equilibrium curve.

Equilibrium line

Q

ROL

xD/(Rm+1)

y

q-line

xD/(R+1)

SOL

xF xD

xB

At this point of intersection the driving force for mass transfer is zero. This is also

called as Pinch Point. At this point separation is not possible. The R cannot be

reduced beyond this point. The value of R at this point is known as the minimum

reflux ratio and is denoted by Rmin. For non-ideal mixture it is quite common to

exhibit inflections in their equilibrium curves as shown in Figure 5.20 (a, b). In

those cases, the operating lines where it becomes tangent to the equilibrium

curve (called tangent pinch) is the condition for minimum reflux. The ROL cannot

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

move beyond point P, e.g. to point K. The condition for zero driving force first

occurs at point P, before point K which is the intersection point between the q-

line and equilibrium curve. Similarly it is the condition SOL also. At the total reflux

ratio, the ROL and SOL coincide with the 45 degree diagonal line. At this

condition, total number of triangles formed with the equilibrium curve is equal

minimum number of theoretical stages. The reflux ratio will be infinite.

Figure 5.20 (a): Representation of minimum reflux ratio for non-ideal mixture

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

Figure 5.20 (b): Representation of minimum reflux ratio for non-ideal mixture

Tray Efficiency

For the analysis of theoretical stage required for the distillation, it is assumed that

the the vapor leaving each tray is in equilibrium with the liquid leaving the same

tray and the trays are operating at 100% efficiency. In practice, the trays are not

perfect. There are deviations from ideal conditions. The equilibrium with

temperature is sometimes reasonable for exothermic chemical reaction but the

equilibrium with respect to mass transfer is not often valid. The deviation from the

ideal condition is due to: (1) Insufficient time of contact

(2) Insufficient degree of mixing. To achieve the same degree of desired

separation, more trays will have to be added to compensate for the lack of

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

perfect separability. The concept of tray efficiency may be used to adjust the the

actual number of trays required.

Overall Efficiency

Eo (5.34)

No. of actual trays

It is applied for the whole column. Every tray is assumed to have the same

efficiency. The overall efficiency depends on the (i) geometry and design of the

contacting trays, (ii) flow rates and flow paths of vapor and liquid streams, (iii)

Compositions and properties of vapor and liquid streams (Treybal, 1981; Seader

and Henley, 1998). The overall efficiency can be calculated from the following

correlations:

The corrrelation is valid for hydrocarbon mixtures in the range of 342 K < T <

488.5 K, 1 atm < P < 25 atm and 0.066 < µ < 0.355 cP

Murphree Efficiency

models which can be interpreted by the Murphree Tray Efficiency E M. In this case

it is assumed that the vapor and liquid between trays are well-mixed and have

uniform composition. It is defined for each tray according to the separation

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

achieved on each tray based on either the liquid phase or the vapor phase. For a

given component, it can be expressed as:

y n y n 1

E MV (5.37)

y n* y n 1

x n x n 1

E ML (5.38)

x n* x n 1

A liquid mixture of benzene toluene is being distilled in a fractionating column at

101.3 k Pa pressure. The feed of 100 kmole/h is liquid and it contains 45 mole%

benzene (A) and 55 mole% toluene (B) and enters at 327.6 K. A distillate

containing 95 mole% benzene and 5 mole% toluene and a bottoms containing 10

mole% benzene and 90 mole% toluene are to be obtained. The amount of liquid

is fed back to the column at the top is 4 times the distillate product. The average

heat capacity of the feed is 159 KJ/kg mole. K and the average latent heat 32099

kJ/kg moles.

Calculate

i. The kg moles per hour distillate, kg mole per hour bottoms

ii. No. of theoretical stages at the operating reflux.

iii. The minimum no. of theoretical stages required at total reflux

iv. If the actual no. of stage is 10, what is the overall efficiency increased

at operating condition compared to the condition of total reflux?

The equilibrium data:

Temp.(K) 353.3 358.2 363.2 366.7 373.2 378.2 383.8

xA (mole fraction) 1.000 0.780 0.580 0.450 0.258 0.13 0

yA(mole fraction) 1.000 0.900 0.777 0.657 0.456 0.261 0

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

Solution 5.2:

F=D+B

100 = D + B

F xF = D xD + B xB

Therefore, D = 41.2 kg mole/h, B = 58.8 kg mole/h

y = [R/(R+1)] x + xD/(R+1) = 0.8 x +0.190

q = 1+ cpL (TB-TF)/Latent heat of vaporization

TB = 366.7 K from boiling point of feed, TF = 327.6 K ( inlet feed temp)

Therefore q = 1.195

Slope of q line = 6.12

From the graph (Figure E1), Total no of theoretical stages is 8 at operating reflux

(Red color)

From the graph (Figure E1), Total no of theoretical stages is 6 at total reflux

(Black color)

Overall efficiency at operating conditions: Eo (Operating) = No of ideal stage/ No

of actual trays = 7.9/10 = 0.79

Overall efficiency at total reflux conditions: Eo (total relux) = No of ideal stage/ No

of actual trays = 5.9/10=0.59

Overall efficiency increased: 0.79-0.59 = 0.20

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

MODULE 5: DISTILLATION

LECTURE NO. 6

Method

Background Principle:

The method is concerned with the graphical analysis of calculating the theoretical

stages by enthalpy balance required for desired separation by distillation process

(Hines and Maddox, 1984). In this method, the enthalpy balances are

incorporated as an integral part of the calculation however it is not considered in

the analysis separation by distillation process by McCabe-Thele method. This

procedure combines the material balance calculations with enthalpy balance

calculations. This method also provides the information on the condenser and

reboiler duties. The overall material balance for the distillation column is as

shown in Figure 5.11:

F DB (5.39)

For any component the material balance around the column can be written as:

Fx F DxD Bx B (5.40)

FH F QR DH D BH B QC (5.41)

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

where H is the enthalpy of the liquid stream, energy/mol, Q R is the heat input to

the reboiler, J/s and QC is the heat removed from condenser, J/s. The heat

balance on rearrangement of Equation (5.41) gives

Q Q

FH F D H D C B H B R (5.42)

D R

The Equation (5.41) is rearranged as Equation (5.42) for the convenience to plot

it on the enthalpy-concentration diagram. The points represented by the feed,

distillate and bottom streams can be plotted on the enthalpy-concentration

diagram as shown in Figure 5.21.

Figure 5.21: Representation of feed, distillate and bottom streams on the enthalpy-concentration

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

Substituting the Equation (5.39) into the Equation (5.40) and (5.42) we get

( D B) x F DxD Bx B (5.43)

Q Q

( D B) H F D H D C B H B R (5.44)

D R

QR

H F (H B )

D xF xB R

(5.45)

B xD xF Q

(H D C ) H F

D

xF xB xD xF

(5.46)

Q Q

H F (H B R ) (H D C ) H F

R D

Comparing the Equation (5.46) with the points plotted on Figure (5.21), it is found

that the left hand side of the Equation (5.46) represents the slope of the straight

line between the points (xB, HB-QR/B) and (xF, HF). The right hand side of the

Equation (5.46) represents the slope of the straight line passing through the

points (xF, HF) and (xD, HD-QC/D). From this it can be said that all three points are

on a same straight line. The amount of distillate as per Equation (5.45) is

______

proportional to the horizontal distance x F x B and the amount of bottoms is

______

proportional to the horizontal distance x D x F , then from the overall material

balance it can be interpreted that the amount of feed is proportional to the

______

horizontal distance x D x B . This leads to the inverse lever rule. Based on this

principle, the analysis of distillation column is called Enthalpy-composition

analysis or Ponchon-Savarit analysis of distillation column.

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

Consider the theoretical stage shown in Figure 5.12 and the principle by which it

operates is described in the enthalpy-composition diagram as shown in Figure

5.22.

The vapor entering to the tray (n), Vn+1 is a saturated vapor of composition yn+1

wheras the liquid entering to the tray is Ln-1 of composition xn-1. The point P in the

Figure 5.22 represents the total flow to the tray. The point P lies in a straight line

______

joining xn-1 and yn+1. The distance y n1 P is proportional to the quantity Ln-1 and

______

the distance x n1 P is proportional to the quantity Vn+1 as per lever rule. So

NPTEL – Chemical – Mass Transfer Operation 1

______

Ln 1 y n 1 P

______ (5.47)

Vn 1

x n 1 P

The sum of the liquid and vapor leaving the plate must equal the total flow to the

plate. So the tie line must pass through the point P which represents the addition

point of the vapor Vn and liquid Ln leaving the tray. The intersection of the tie line

with the enthalpy-composition curves will represent the compositions of these

streams.

Where HV is the enthalpy of the vapor and HL is the enthalpy of the liquid. From

the material and enthalpy balance Equations above mean that the stream that

added to Vn+1 to generate Ln is same to the stream that must be added to V n to

generate Ln-1. In the Figure 5.22, Δ represents the difference point above and

below the tray. This point of a common difference point can be extended to a

section of a column that contains any number of theoretical trays.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Module # 7

PROCESS DESIGN OF MASS TRANSFER COLUMN: DESIGN OF

DISTILLATION AND ABSORPTION COLUMN

1. Introduction

2. Plate contractors

7.1. Definition of tray areas

7.2. Plate types

7.2.1. Bubble cap plates

7.2.2. Valve plates

7.2.3. Sieve plate

7.2.4. Selection of tray type

7.3. Effect of vapor flow conditions on tray design

7.3.1. Flooding consideration

7.3.2. Sieve tray weeping

7.3.3. Liquid entrainment

7.4. Tray hydraulic parameters

7.5. Column sizing approximation

7.6. Provisional plate design

7.6.1. Column diameter

7.6.2. Hole diameter, hole pitch and plate thickness

7.6.3. Weir height and weir length

7.6.4. Calming zones

3. Stepwise design tray procedure

4. Design problem

References

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Lecture 1: Introduction

1. Introduction

The typical gas-liquid contacting operations include distillation, absorption, stripping,

leaching and humidification. Distillation and absorption are two most widely used mass

transfer processes in chemical industries. Design of plate column for absorption and

distillation involves many common steps of calculation such as determination of number

of theoretical plates, column diameter, plate hydraulic design, etc.In absorption process, a

soluble component is absorbed in a liquid (called solvent) from a gaseous mixture. The

gas and liquid streams leaving the tray are in equilibrium under the ideal condition. The

separation in distillation is based on the relative volatility of the components. Additional

vapor phase is generated by the vaporization of more volatile components (called

stripping) and by condensation of relatively less volatile components(called absorption)

adds to the liquid phase.

Selection of column type: Plate or Packed: Packed towers (columns) are also used as

the contacting devices for gas absorption, liquid-liquid extraction and distillation. The

gaseous mixture is allowed to contact continuously with the liquid counter-currently in a

packed column. The liquid flows downward over the packing surface, and the gaseous

mixture flows upward through the space in the packing. The performance of the column

strongly depends on the arrangement of the packings to provide good liquid and gas

contact throughout the packed bed. The solute gas is absorbed by the fresh solvent

(liquid) entering at the top of the tower where the lean gas leaves system. The liquid

enriched with absorbed solute gas, leaves the column bottom through the exit port.

In a plate tower, the liquid and gas are contacted in stage-wise manner on the trays; while

gas-liquid contact is continuous in a packed column. There are always some uncertainly

to maintain good liquid distribution in a packed tower. For this reason, it is difficult to

accurately estimate the packed tower efficiency. The course content is limited to design

of plate column only and some typical criterions for the selection of column type are

discussed below.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Plate towers exhibit larger pressure drops and liquid holdup at higher gas flow

rate. While, packed towers are not appropriate for very low liquid flow rates.

Packed column is the preferred choice than a plate column to handle toxic and

flammable liquids due to lower liquid holdup to keep the unit as small as possible

for the sake of safety.

Plate columns are normally suitable for fouling liquids or laden with solids. They

are easier to clean and could handle substantial temperature variation during

operation.

Packed towers are more suitable for foaming and corrosive services.

It is easier to make the provision for the installation of internal cooling coils or

withdrawal of side streams from a plate column.

2. Plate contractors

Plate contractors/ towers are vertical cylindrical columns in which a vertical stack of

trays or plates are installed across the column height as shown in Figure 7.1. The liquid

enters at the top of the column and flows across the tray and then through a downcomer

(cross-flow mode) to the next tray below. The gas/vapor from the lower tray flows in the

upward direction through the opening/holes in the tray to form a gas-liquid dispersion. In

this way, the mass transfer between the phases (gas/vapor-liquid) takes place across the

tray and through the column in a stage-wise manner.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

The definition of tray areas and its nomenclature illustrated in Figures 7.2 &7.3 are

followed throughout the design procedure.

Total tower cross-section area (𝑨𝑻 ): The empty tower inside cross-sectional area

without trays or downspouts.

Net area (𝑨𝑵 ) (also called free area):The total tower crosssectional area (𝐴 𝑇 )minus the

area at the top of the downcomer (𝐴𝐷𝑇 ). The net area symbolizes the smallest area

available for vapor flow in the inter-tray spacing.

Bubbling area or active area (𝑨𝑨 ): The total tower cross-sectional area minus sum of

the downcomer top area(𝐴𝐷𝑇 ) and downcomer seal area (𝐴𝐷𝐵 )and any other

nonperforated areas on the tray. The bubbling area represents the area available for vapor

flow just above the tray floor.

Hole area (𝑨𝒉 ): The total area of the perforations on the tray. The hole area is the

smallest area available for vapor/gas passage.

Figure 7.2.Schematic of a tray operating in the froth regime ([2] page 14-28).

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

7.2. Plate types

Gas and liquid flow across the tray can either be by cross-flow or counter-flow manner

(Figure 7.4). The cross-flow plates are most widely practiced and the three main types of

cross flow plates are: bubble cap, valve and sieve trays with downcomer.

Figure 7.4. Classification of plate types based on flow mode- side view shown: (a) Cross-flow plate, (b): Counterflow plate.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

An enhanced gas-liquid contact can be achieved having bubble caps on the tray at very

low liquid flow rates. A bubble cap consists of a riser (also called chimney) fixed to the

tray through a hole and a cap is mounted over the riser (Figure 7.5). The gas flows up

through the riser, directed downward by the cap through the annular space between riser

and cap. Finally, the gas is dispersed into the liquid. A number of slots in the lower part

of the cap help in gas bubble dispersion. Un-slotted types of cap designs are also common

in application. Bubble caps are especially suitable for higher turndown ratio. Turndown

ratio is the ratio of maximum operating vapor rate to the minimum allowable vapor rate,

below which weeping starts.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Valve trays (or floating cap plate) are the modified design of sieve trays where relatively

large plate perforations are covered by movable caps/valves (Figure 7.6). Valves cover

may be round or rectangular. The very common hole diameter is 40 mm but upto 150 mm

are also used. The valve lifts up as the vapor flow rate increases and the valve sits over

the perforation at lower flow rate, thus stops the liquid from weeping. Valve trays provide

good vapor-liquid contact at low flow rates (high turndown ratio).

The sieve tray (also known as perforated plate) is a flat perforated metal sheet (Figure

7.7). The hole diameter from 1.5 to 25 mm are very commonly used. The sieve tray

layout is a typical square or equilateral triangular pitch holes. The gas/vapor flows

upward through the perforation and disperses into the flowing liquid over the plate. There

is no liquid seal in case of trays without downcomer and the liquid weeps (called

weeping) through the holes at low flow rates, reducing the efficiency of plate. For this

reason, sieve tray has the lowest turndown ratio. Sieve tray construction is simple and

relatively cheap.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

The comparative performances of three common types of trays are summarized in Table

7.1.

The capacity, efficiency, pressure drop and entrainment of sieve and valve trays are

almost same.

Bubble cap trays have lower capacity and efficiency and but higher pressure drop and

entrainment compared to valve and sieve trays. The turndown ratio comes in the order of:

bubble cap>valve>sieve. However, valve trays have the best turndown ratio in case of

refinery applications. Sieve trays are the least expensive and suitable for almost all

applications. Valve trays can be considered where higher turndown ratio is needed.

Bubble cap trays should be used at very low liquid flow rate which is not achievable

using sieve trays.

Table 7.1: Comparison of three types of cross-flow trays ([5] page 266).

Tray Capacity Efficiency Pressure Entrainment Turndown Cost

type drop ratio

Bubble Medium Medium High ~3 times than Excellent 100-200 %

cap high high sieve tray more than sieve

tray

Valve High to High Medium to Medium 4 to 10.1 20-50% more

very high high than sieve tray

Sieve High High Medium Medium 2.1 Cheapest of all

types

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Design

7.3. Effect of vapor flow conditions on tray design

7.3.1. Flooding consideration

Excessive liquid buildup inside the column leads to column flooding condition. The

nature of flooding depends on the column operating pressure and the liquid to vapor flow

ratio. It may be downcomer backup, spray entrainment or froth entrainment type

floodings.Higher tray pressure drop due to excessive vapor flow rates holds up the liquid

in the downcomer, increases the liquid level on the plate and leads to downcomer

flooding situation. The column flooding conditions sets the upper limit of vapor velocity

for steady operation.

Gas velocity through the net area at flooding conditioncan be estimated using Fair’s

correlation ([4], page 14-26):

𝜍 0.2 𝜌 𝑙 −𝜌 𝑣 0.5

𝑈𝑛𝑓 = 𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓 [m/s]

20 𝜌𝑣

(7.1)

𝜌𝑣 = vapor density, kg/m3

𝜌𝑙 = liquid density, kg/m3

𝜍 = liquid surface tension, mN/m (dyn/cm)

𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓 = capacity parameter (m/s) can be calculated([4] page 14-27) in terms of plate

𝐿 𝜌 𝑣 0.5

spacing and flow parameter 𝐹𝐿𝐺 = 𝑉 𝜌𝑙

(7.2)

𝐿 =liquid flow rate, kg/s

𝑉 =vpor flow rate, kg/s

The design gas velocities (𝑈𝑛 ) is generally 80-85% of 𝑈𝑛𝑓 for non-foaming liquids and

75% or less for foaming liquids subject to acceptable entrainment and plate pressure

drop.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Weeping occurs at low vapor/gas flow rates. The upward vapor flow through the plate

perforationsprevents the liquid from leaking through the tray perforation. At low vapor

flow rates, liquid start to leak/rain through the perforation (called weeping). When none

of the liquid reaches the downcomer at extreme weeping condition at very low vapor

flow rate, it is called dumping. The weeping tendency increases with increasing fractional

hole area and liquid flow rates.

The vapor velocity at the weep point (where liquid leakage through holes starts) is the

minimum value for stable operation. For a chosen hole area,the minimum operating

vapor flow velocity (𝑈𝑚𝑖𝑛 ,𝑜𝑝 ) at minimum flow rate for stable operation should be above

weep point vapor velocity.

The minimum vapor velocity (𝑈min ) at the weep point ([3] page 569):

𝐾2 −0.9(25.4−𝑑 ℎ )

𝑈min = (7.3)

𝜌 𝑣 1/2

𝜌𝑣 = vapor density, kg/m3 (maximum value of vapor density)

𝐾𝟐 = constant (𝐾2 ) of weep-point correlation depends on the depth of clear liquid

(weir crest + weir height) on the plate ([3] page 571).

Weir crest (ℎ𝑤𝑐 ) can be determined using the Francis’ weir correlation ([3] page 571):

2

𝐿𝑤𝑐 3

ℎ𝑤𝑐 = 750 [mm]

𝐿𝑊 𝜌 𝑙

(7.4)

𝐿𝑊𝐶 =weir length, m

𝐿𝑊 =liquid flow rate over the crest, kg/s

𝜌𝑙 = liquid density, kg/m3

minimum vapor flow rate

Actual operating minimum vapor velocity: 𝑈𝑚𝑖𝑛 ,𝑜𝑝 = [m/s] (7.5)

hole area

To avoid weeping: 𝑈𝑚𝑖𝑛 ,𝑜𝑝 > 𝑈min .

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Entrainment is the phenomena in which liquid droplets are carried by vapor/gas to the

tray above. Therefore, the less volatile liquid components from bottom tray are mixed

with liquid having relatively more volatile materials on the overhead tray. It counteracts

the desired mass transfer operation and the plate efficiency decreases. Entrainment

kg

increases with vapor velocity.The fractional entrainment (𝛹 = kg gross ) can

liquid flow

𝐿 𝜌 𝑣 0.5

predicted using Fair’s correlation in terms of the flow parameter [𝐹𝐿𝐺 = 𝑉 ] and

𝜌𝑙

Effect of 𝛹 on Murphree plate efficiency can be estimated using Colburn equation ([4]

page 14-29):

𝐸𝑚𝑣

𝐸𝑎 = Ψ𝐸 𝑚𝑣

1+

1−Ψ

(7.6)

𝐸𝑚𝑣 =Murphree vapor efficiency

E𝑎 =Corrected Murphree vapor efficiency for liquid entrainment

7.4. Tray hydraulic parameters

Total plate pressure drop

All gas pressure drops (ℎ𝑡 ) are expressed as heads of the clear liquid and ℎ𝑡 is given by:

ℎ𝑡 = ℎ𝑑 + ℎ𝑤𝑐 + ℎ𝑤 + ℎ𝑟

(7.7)

Where, ℎ𝑑 =dry plate pressure drop, mm

ℎ𝑤𝑐 =height of liquid over weir (weir crest), mm

ℎ𝑤 =weir height, mm

ℎ𝑟 =residual head, mm

Dry plate pressure drop (𝒉𝒅 ):

Dry plate pressure drop occurs due to friction within dry short holes.ℎ𝑑 can be calculated

using following expression derivedfor flow through orifices ([3] page 575).

𝑈𝑚𝑎𝑥 2𝜌

𝑣

ℎ𝑑 = 51 [mm]

𝐶0 𝜌𝑙

(7.8)

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Maximum vapor velocity: 𝑈𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 𝐴𝐻

(7.9)

𝐴𝐻 plate thickness

The orifice coefficient, 𝐶0 can be determined in terms of and ([3] page

𝐴𝑃 hole diameter

576).

Residual gas pressure head (𝒉𝒓 ):

The residual pressure drop results mainly from the surface tension as the gas releases

from a perforation. The following simple equation can be used to estimate ℎ𝑟 with

reasonable accuracy ([3] page 575).

12.5×10 3

ℎ𝑟 = 𝜌𝑙

(9.10)

Downcomer backup (𝒉𝒃 ) and downcomer residence time:

The liquid level and froth in the downcomer should be well below the top of the outlet

weir on the tray above to avoid flooding ([3] page 576).

ℎ𝑏 = ℎ𝑤𝑐 + ℎ𝑤 + ℎ𝑡 + ℎ𝑑𝑐

(7.11)

𝐿𝑤𝑑 2

Head loss in downcomer: ℎ𝑑𝑐 = 166 𝜌 𝑙 𝐴𝑚

(7.12)

𝐿𝑤𝑑 = Downcomer liquid flow rate, kg/s

𝐴𝑚 =Smaller of clearance area under the downcomer apron (𝐴𝑎𝑝 ) and downcomer

area(𝐴𝐷 )

1

The average density of aerated liquid in the dowmncomer can be assumed as of the

2

clear liquid density.Therefore, half of the sum of the plate spacing and weir height should

be greater than thedowncomer backup.

𝟏

𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐠 + 𝐰𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 > 𝒉𝒅 (7.13)

𝟐

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Downcomer residence time (𝑡𝑑𝑟𝑡 ) should be sufficient for the disengagement of liquid

and vapor in the downcomer to minimize entrained vapor. The value of 𝑡𝑑𝑟𝑡 >3 s is

suggested. Downcomer residence timeis given by ([3] page 578):

𝐴𝐷 ℎ 𝑏𝑐 𝜌 𝑙

𝑡𝑑𝑟𝑡 = [s]

𝐿𝑤𝑑

(7.14)

ℎ𝑏𝑐 = clear liquid back up, mm

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

7.5. Column sizing approximation

The column sizing is a trial anderror calculationprocedure,starting with a tentative tray

layout. The calculation is then revised until anacceptable design is obtained subject to

satisfyingthetray pressure drop, weeping, flooding and liquid entrainment limits. The

column sizing is carried at the tray where the anticipated column loading is the highest

and lowest for each section. However, the vapor flow rates have the highest impact on

tower diameter. For an example, the sizing calculation is performed on the top tray for

the above feed section and on the bottom tray for below feed section, for a single feed

distillation column with one top and one bottom product. The tray spacing determines the

column height. Lower tray spacing is desirable to minimize construction cost by

checking against the column performance criteria. The suggested tray spacing (𝑇𝑡 ) with

column diameter is appended below ([1] page 162). The detailed column sizing

calculations are discussed in the solved example.

Tower diameter, m Tray spacing, mm

1 or less 500 (150 mm is minimum)

1-3 600

3-4 750

4-8 900

7.6. Provisional plate design

7.6.1. Column diameter

The column diameter is determined from the flooding correlation for a chosen plate

spacing. The superficial vapor/gas velocity (𝑈𝑛𝑓 ) at flooding through the net area relates

to liquid and vapor densities according to Fair’s correlation (refer to section7.3.1).𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓 is

an empirical constant, depends on tray spacing and can be estimated against the flow

parameter (𝐹𝐿𝐺 ) based on mass flow rate of liquid (𝐿) and vapor (𝑉) ([3] page 567, [4]

page 14-27).

Typically, the design velocity (𝑈𝑛 ) through the net area is about 80 to 85% of 𝑈𝑛𝑓 for

non-foaming liquids and 75% or less for foaming liquid depending on allowable plate

pressure drop and entrainment. It is a common practice to have uniform tower diameter in

all sections of the column even though the vapor/gas and liquid loadings are expected to

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

require selecting different plate spacing in different sections of the tower.

7.6.2. Hole diameter,hole pitchand plate thickness

The plate hole diameters (𝑑ℎ ) from 3 to 12 mm are commonly used. The bigger sizes are

susceptible to weeping. The holes may be drilled or punched and the plate is fabricated

from stainless steel and other alloys than carbon steel. The centre to centre distance

between two adjacent holes is called hole pitch (𝐼𝑃 ). Perforations can be arranged in

square or equilateral triangular arrays with respect to the vapor/gas flow direction. The

normal range of 𝐼𝑃 is from 2.5 to 5 times of 𝑑ℎ ([1] page 168).

𝐴𝐻 𝑑ℎ 2

For triangular pitch: = 0.907

𝐴𝑃 𝐼𝑃

(7.15)

Plate thickness (𝑡𝑡 ) typically varies from 0.2 to 1.2 times of the hole diameter and should

be verified by checking the allowable plate pressure drop ([3] page 576).

7.6.3. Weir heightand weir length

The depth of liquid on the tray is maintained by installing a vertical flat plate, called weir.

Higher weir height (ℎ𝑤 ) increases the plate efficiency. But it increases plate pressure

drop, entrainment rate and weeping tendency. Weir heights from 40 to 90 mm are

common in applications for the columns operating above the atmospheric pressure. For

vacuum operation, ℎ𝑤 =6 to 12 mm are recommended. The weir length (𝐿𝑤 ) determines

the downcomer area. A weir length of 60 to 80% of tower diameter is normally used

with segmental downcomers. The dependency of 𝐿𝑤 on downcomer area is calculated

𝐴𝐷

against the percentage value of ([3] page 572).

𝐴𝐴

Two blank areas called calming zone, are provided between the inlet downcomer or inlet

weir and the perforation area, and also between the outlet weir and perforation area. Inlet

calming zone helps in reducing excessive weeping in this area because of high vertical

velocity of the entering liquid in the downward direction. Outlet calming zone allows

disengagement of vapor before the liquid enters the downcomer area. A calming zone

between 50 to 100mm is suggested.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Iterative tray design approach ([3] page 566) is listed below. The design is performed

separately both above feed plate (top section) and below feed plate (bottom section) for

single feed two product distillation column.

Step #1: Determine the number of theoretical plate and vapor and liquid flow-rates

separately both in top and bottom sections.

Step #2: Obtain the physical properties of the system

Step #3: Select a trial plate spacing

Step #4: Estimate the column diameter based on flooding considerations

Step #5: Decide the liquid flow arrangement (reverse, single-pass, or multiple-pass). A

guideline is provided in Figure 11.28 ([3] page 568).

Step #6: Make a provisional tray layout including downcomer area, active area,

perforated area, hole area and size, weir height, weir length

Step #7: Check the weeping rate, if not satisfactory go back to step #6 and reselect tray

layout

Step #8: Check the plate pressure drop, if too high return to step #6

Step #9: Check downcomer back-up, if too high go back to step #6 or #3

Step #10: Decide plate layout including calming zones and unperforated areas and check

hole pitch, if unsatisfactory return to step #6

Step #11: Recalculate the percentage of flooding based upon selected tower diameter

Step #12: Check for entrainment, if too high then return to step #4

Step #13: Optimize design: repeat steps #3 to #9 to find smallest diameter and plate

spacing acceptable to get the lowest cost for the specified application

Step #14: Finalize design: draw up the plate specification and sketch the layout

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

4. Design problem

Design a continuous distillation column (plate) to recover acetone from a 50-50 mole %

acetone-water mixture available at 30°C. The feed stream flow rate is 25,000 kg/h. The

top product should contain at least 95 mole% acetone and the bottom product should

contain <1 % acetone by mole. Consider reboiler as equivalent to one stage. This column

is operated at atmospheric pressure (top tray). Column efficiency of 60% and pressure

drop per plate of 1.25 kPa may be assumed. You can take the minimum liquid flow as

70% of the maximum rate both above and below the feed plate. The vapor liquid

equilibrium (VLE) data for the acetone-water system at atmospheric pressure is provided

in Table 7.2.

Data given:

Latent heat of water= 41,360 J/mol; latent heat of acetone= 28,410 J/mol

Specific heat of water=75.3 J/mol°C (mean); Specific heat of acetone 128 J/mol°C

(mean)

Table 7.2: VLE data for the acetone-water system at 1 atm.

𝒙 0.0 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.55 0.60 0.65 0.70 0.75 0.80 0.85 0.90 0.95

𝒚 0.0 0.6381 0.7301 0.77160.7916 0.8034 0.81240.82010.82690.83760.8387 0.84550.8532 0.86150.87120.8817 0.8950.9118 0.9335 0.9627

BP, 10074.8 68.53 65.26 0.63.5962.6 61.87 61.26 60.75 60.35 59.95 59.54 59.12 58.71 58.29 57.9 57.4957.08 56.68 56.3

°C

𝑥= Mole fraction of acetone in liquid; 𝑦= Mole fraction of acetone in vapor; BP: Bubble

point

Feed and products compositions:

Component Feed mole Top product mole Bottom product mole

fraction fraction fraction

Acetone 0.50 0.95 0.01

Water 0.50 0.05 0.99

Latent heat of the feed = 28,410×0.5 + 41,360×(1 - 0.5) = 34,885 J/mol

Specific heat of the feed = (128×0.5) + 75.3× (1 - 0.5)= 101.75 J/mol °C

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Heat required to vaporize 1 mole of the given feed = (59.95 - 30) ×101.75 +

34,885=37933 J

Heat required to vaporize 1 mole of the given feed 37933

𝑞= = = 1.09

Latent heat of the feed 34885

𝑞 1.09

Slope of the q-line= 𝑞−1 = 1.09−1 = 12.44

Here, the top operating line just touches the equilibrium curve at the point of tangency of

the rectifying section operating line at which the minimum reflux takes place.

xD

From the Figure 7.8: 0.57 ; Rmin= 0.67 for xD=0.95

Rmin 1

Here, reflux ratio, R=2.5×Rmin =2.5×0.67= 1.675 is taken for this design.

Average molecular wt. of feed= 0.5×58 + 0.5×18=38

Molar feed flow (𝐹) rate=25,000/38=657.9 kmol/h

Acetone balance: 𝐷 × 0.95 = 657.9 × 0.5⇒𝐷 = 346.2 kmol/h

Vapor flow (𝑉) rate above feed plate, 𝑉 = 𝐷 1 + 𝑅 = 346.2 1 + 1.675 = 926.2

kmol/h

(Assuming constant molar overflow)

Top section liquid flow rate, 𝐿 = 𝑉 − 𝐷 = 580 kmol/h

Bottom product: 𝐵 = 𝐹 − 𝐷 = 657.9 − 346.2 = 311.7 kmol/h

Mass balance below feed plate: 𝐿′ = 𝑉 ′ + 𝐵

𝐿′

Slope of the bottom section operating line (Figure 7.8): 𝑉 ′ = 1.32

𝑉 ′ = Vapor flow rate below feed plate = 974 kmol/h

The construction of operating lines and number of theoretical stages are shown in this

Figure 7.8.

Total number of tray= 6 (above feed) +3 (below feed) =9

9−1

Total number of real stages= ≈ 14 (60% column efficiency; reboiler was

0.6

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

1.0

Equilibrium curve 6th stage

Top operating line for Rmin

0.9

0.8

6

0.7

q-line

0.6

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

xD/(Rmin+1)

Bottom operating line

0.1

0.0

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0

x, mole fraction of Acetone

Column top pressure= 101325 Pa (1 atm)

Column pressure drop=1.25×103×14=16800 kPa

Pressure drop of 1.25kPa per tray is specified

Top section: Bottom section:

Column top pressure= 101325 Pa (1.0147 Column bottom pressure=101325 +16800

bar) and temperature= 56.3 °C = 118825 Pa (=1.19 bar)

𝜌𝑣 = = 329 .3×8.314 ×10 3 = 2.08 kg/m3

𝑅𝑇

bar)= 105 °C (bottom contains 99 mole %

water)

𝜌𝑙 =744 kg/m3 (density of the mixture)

(water density= 985 and acetone density=

3 °C: 𝜌𝑣 = 0.693; 𝜌𝑙 = 955 kg/m3

735 kg/m at 56.3 °C)

Average molecular weight of vapor:

M=40.58

M=56.5

Average molecular weight of liquid:

Average molecular weight of liquid: M=56

M=18.4

Surface tension, 𝜍 =20×10-3 N/m

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

𝜍 =58×10-3 N/m

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Step #3: Plate spacing

Plate spacingof 600 mm is considered for the first trial to calculate capacity parameter

(𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓 ) for the estimation of maximum allowable vapor velocity through the net plate area

([3] page 567, [4] page 14-27). The suggested plate spacing is 600 mm for column

diameter>1.5 m.

Step #4: Column diameter (refer to sections 7.3.1 &7.6.1; Eqs. 7.1 & 7.2)

1st trial is started with the following considerations:

Design is performed for 80% flooding at maximum gas flow rate.

Total downcomer top and bottom seal area is 10% of the net area.

Top section: Bottom section:

Flow parameter (𝐹𝐿𝐺 ) based on mass flow rate, 𝐿′ 𝜌 𝑣 0.5

𝐹𝐿𝐺 =𝑉 ′ 𝜌𝑙

𝐿 𝜌 𝑣 0.5 580 ×56 2.08 0.5

= 926.2×56.5 =0.033 1285 .7×18.4 0.693 0.5

𝑉 𝜌𝑙 744

= =0.016

974 ×40.58 955

𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓 = 0.11 m/s

𝜍 0.2 𝜌𝑙 − 𝜌𝑣 0.5

𝜍 0.2 𝜌 𝑙 −𝜌 𝑣 0.5 𝑈𝑛𝑓 = 𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓

𝑈𝑛𝑓 = 𝐶𝑠𝑏𝑓 = 0.12 × 20 𝜌𝑣

20 𝜌𝑣

0.2 0.5

20 0.2 744 −2.08 0.5 58 955 − 0.693

= 2.26 m/s = 0.11 ×

20 2.08 20 0.693

[𝜍 = liquid surface tension, mN/m] = 5.05 m/s

area (80% flooding): 𝑈𝑛 = 0.8 × 5.05 = 4.04 m/s

𝑈𝑛 = 0.8 × 2.26 = 1.8 m/s

(𝑄𝑚𝑎𝑥 ): 𝑉 × 𝑀 974 × 40.58

𝑄𝑚𝑎𝑥 = =

𝑉 × 𝑀 926.2 × 56.5 𝜌𝑣 0.693

𝑄𝑚𝑎𝑥 = =

𝜌𝑣 2.08 = 57034.5 m3/h=15.84 m3/s

=25158.8 m3/h=6.98 m3/s

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

= =3.92 m2

𝑈𝑛 4.04

𝑄𝑚𝑎𝑥 6.98

= =3.88 m2

𝑈𝑛 1.8

3.88 3.92

=4.31 m2 = =4.36 m2

0.9 0.9

10% of the net area)

4.31 4.36

=2.34 m =2.36 m

0.785 0.785

Use the highervalue of the tower diameter for the uniformity between sections, if the

difference is not greater than 20%. In this case, the bottom diameter is used both in

top and bottomsections. Higher area than the design area (here top section) can be

taken care by reducing the perforated area.

The nearest recommended shell (nominal diameter 2400 mm) fabricated from

carbon steel or stainless steel sheet in IS 2844-1964: ID 2403 mm with minimum

wall thickness: 8 mm for carbon steel) and 6 mm for stainless steel.

Step #5: Selection of liquid-flow arrangement

580 ×56

Liquid volumetric flow rate in the top section = 3600 ×744 ≈ 0.012m3/s

1285 .7×18.4

Liquid volumetric flow rate in the top section = ≈ 0.007m3/s

3600 ×955

Therefore, single pass cross-flow sieve plate is chosen for this service ([3] page 568).

Step #6: Provisional plate design (refer to sections 7.6.2 & 7.6.3)

Column (tower) diameter (ID): 𝐷𝑇 ≈2.4 m

Column cross-section area: 𝐴 𝑇 =0.785×𝐷𝑇 2 =4.52 m2

Downcomer area: 𝐴𝐷 = 0.1𝐴 𝑇 = 0.452 m2

Net area: 𝐴𝑁 = 𝐴 𝑇 − 𝐴𝐷 = 4.068 m2

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Weir height, ℎ𝑤 = 40 mm is considered.

Active area:𝐴𝐴 = 𝐴 𝑇 − 2 × 𝐴𝐷 =3.616 m2

1

For the first trial, consider hole diameter: 𝑑ℎ =12 mm (2inch). The plate thickness=hole

Step #7: Checking for weepage (refer to section 7.3.2; Eqs. 7.3 & 7.4)

Top section Bottom section

580 ×56 1285 .7×18.4

Maximum liquid flow rate (𝑚𝑚𝑎𝑥 )= =9.02 𝑚𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 3600 =6.571 kg/s

3600

kg/s

𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛 =0.7×6.571=4.6 kg/s

Minimum liquid flow rate (𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛 ) (70% of

𝑚𝑚𝑎𝑥 )=0.7×9.02=6.32 kg/s

2

6.571 3

2 ℎ𝑤𝑐 = 750 =18.7

𝐿𝑤𝑐 3 1.752 ×955

Maximum weir crest, ℎ𝑤𝑐 = 750 = mm liquid height

𝐿𝑊 𝜌 𝑙

2

9.02 3

750 =27.2 mm liquid height

1.752 ×744

2

4.6 3

2 ℎ𝑤𝑐 = 750 =14.7

𝐿𝑤𝑐 3 1.752 ×955

Minimum weir crest, ℎ𝑤𝑐 = 750 = mm liquid height

𝐿𝑊 𝜌 𝑙

2

6.32 3

750 =21.5 mm liquid height

1.752 ×744

𝐾2 = 30.2at ℎ𝑤𝑐 + ℎ𝑤 =54.7

The constant (𝐾2 ) of weep-point correlation= 30.3 at

ℎ𝑤𝑐 + ℎ𝑤 =40+21.5=61.5 mm using minimum liquid

flow rate ([3] page 571).

The minimum vapor velocity (𝑈min ) at the weep 𝑈 min at the weep point:

point: 𝑈 =

30.2−0.9(25.4−12)

=21.8 m/s

min (0.693)1/2

𝐾2 −0.9(25.4−𝑑 ℎ ) 30.3−0.9(25.4−12)

𝑈min = 1/2 = =12.6 m/s

𝜌𝑣 (2.08)1/2

flow rate: 0.7×15.84

= 0.489 =22.7 m/s

Actual vapor flow rate 70 % of 𝑄𝑚𝑎𝑥 0.7×6.98

= = = 0.489 =10

𝐴

𝐻 𝐴 𝐻

m/s

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Therefore, the minimum operating velocity both in top and bottom sections is of above

the weep point velocity.

Step #8: Plate pressure drop (refer to section 7.4; Eqs. 7.7, 7.8 & 7.10)

Top section Bottom section

𝑄 𝑚𝑎𝑥 6.98 𝑄 15.84

Maximum vapor velocity: 𝑈 𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 𝐴 = 0.489=14.3 𝑈 𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 𝐴𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 0.489=32.4 m/s

𝐻 𝐻

m/s

32.4 2 0.693

ℎ 𝑑 = 51 = 50.2 mm

Maximum dry plate pressure drop: ℎ𝑑 = 0.88) 955

𝑈 𝑚𝑎𝑥 2𝜌

𝑣 14.3 2 2.08 liquid

51 = 51 = 37.5 mm liquid

𝐶0 𝜌𝑙 0.88) 744

[The orifice coefficient, 𝐶 0 =0.88 at 𝐴 𝐻 /𝐴 𝑃 = 15%

plate thickness

and =1 ([3] page 576).

hole diameter 12.5×103 12.5×103

ℎ𝑟 = 𝜌𝑙

= 955

=13 mm

3 3

12.5×10 12.5×10

Residual head: ℎ 𝑟 = = =16.8 mm liquid

𝜌𝑙 744

liquid

ℎ 𝑡 = 50.2 + (40+18.7)+13≈122

mm liquid

Total plate pressure drop: ℎ 𝑡 = ℎ 𝑑 + ℎ 𝑤𝑐 +

ℎ 𝑤 + ℎ 𝑟 = 37.5 + (40+27.2)+16.8≈122 mm liquid

The plate pressure drop of 1.25 kPa (=127 mm of water and 161 mm of acetone

pressure) was assumed. The estimated value in the first trial is therefore acceptable.

section 7.4; Eqs. 7.11-7.13)

Downcomer back: ℎ 𝑏 = ℎ 𝑤𝑐 + ℎ 𝑤 + ℎ 𝑡 + ℎ 𝑑𝑐

𝐿 𝑤𝑑 2

Head loss in downcomer: ℎ 𝑑𝑐 = 166

𝜌 𝑙 𝐴𝑚

Downcomer liquid flow rate (𝐿 𝑤𝑑 ) =maximum liquid flow rate is taken

𝐴 𝑚 is smaller of 𝐴 𝑎𝑝 and 𝐴 𝐷 .

𝐴 𝑎𝑝 = ℎ 𝑎𝑝 𝑙 𝑤 = 30 × 10−3 × 1.752 =0.0525 m2 (typically ℎ 𝑎𝑝 = ℎ 𝑤 − 10)

Here, 𝐴 𝑎𝑝 < 𝐴 𝐷 = 0.452 m2

Top section Bottom section

9.02 2 6.571 2

ℎ 𝑑𝑐 = 166 744×0.0525

=8.8 mm ℎ 𝑑𝑐 = 166 955×0.0525

=2.9 mm

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

𝑡 𝑑𝑟𝑡 = 6.571

≈ 12 s >3 s.

𝐴 𝐷 ℎ 𝑏𝑐 𝜌 𝑙 0.452× 184×10−3 ×955

𝑡 𝑑𝑟𝑡 =

𝐿 𝑤𝑑

=

6.571

≈ 12 s

>3 s.

ℎ 𝑏𝑐 = clear liquid back up

(ℎ 𝑏𝑐 ≈ ℎ 𝑏 can be approximated)

1 1

plate spacing + weir height = 2 600 + 40 = 320 mm

2

1

plate spacing + weir height > ℎ 𝑑

2

Therefore, the plate spacing and downcomer residence time in both the sections meet

the design required design criteria.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Step #10: Calming zones and hole pitch (refer to sections7.6.2 &7.6.4; Eq. 7.15)

𝐴 𝐸𝑆 = area occupied by edge strip (Figure 7.9)

𝑙 𝑊

=0.73; now, 𝜃 𝑐 = 95° ([3] page 573)

𝐷𝑇

The unperforated edge strip (edge plate) mean length from the geometry:

𝛼 ×𝜋 85×𝜋

𝑙 𝐸𝑆 =(𝐷 𝑇 -50×10-3)× 180 =(2.4-50×10-3)× 180

=3.49 m

𝐴 𝐸𝑆 = 50×10-3×𝑙 𝑀𝑆 =0.175 m2

Use 50 mm wide calming zones. The approximate mean length of zones:

𝑙 𝐶𝑍 =Weir length (𝑙 𝑊) + Width of unperfortaed edge strip

=1.752+50×10-3=1.802 m

𝐴 𝐶𝑍 = 2(50×10-3×𝑙 𝐶𝑍 )= 0.18 m2

Therefore, perforation area per tray (𝐴 𝑃 ) = 𝐴 𝐴 − 𝐴 𝐶𝑍 − 𝐴 𝐸𝑆 =3.616- 0.18-0.175=

3.26 m2

Take total hole area 𝐴 𝐻 = 0.15𝐴 𝐴 = 0.489 m2

𝐴 𝐻 = 0.785 × 𝑑 ℎ 2 × 𝑛 ℎ = 0.489 m2 [hole diameter 12 mm]

Number of holes (𝑛 ℎ )= 4326

𝐴 𝑑ℎ 2

𝐴 𝐻 /𝐴 𝑃 = 0.15. For equilateral triangular pitch: 𝐴 𝐻 = 0.907 𝐼𝑃

𝑃

close to the normal range of 2.5 to 4.0 times of hole diameter.

The estimated hole pitch (𝐼 𝑃 )=is 29.5 mm.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

Steps # 11 and 12: Entrainment checking (refer to section 7.3.3; Eq. 7.6)

Top section Bottom section

Actual vapor velocity (𝑈 𝑣 ) based on net area (𝐴 𝑁 ) 𝑈 𝑣 = 𝑄 𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 15.84 =3.9 m/s

𝐴𝑁 4.068

selected provisionally: 𝑈 3.9

𝑄 𝑚𝑎𝑥 6.98

% flooding=𝑈 𝑣 × 100 = 5.05 ×

𝑈 𝑣 = 𝐴 = 4.068 =1.7 m/s 𝑛𝑓

𝑁

100 =77%

𝑈𝑣 1.7

% flooding=𝑈 × 100 = 2.26 × 100 =76 %

𝑛𝑓

The fractional entrainment, Ψ=0.09 at 𝐹 𝐿𝐺 = flooding velocity of 77 % ([4] page

𝐿 𝜌 𝑣 0.5 14-28).

= 0.033 and actual flooding velocity of

𝑉 𝜌𝑙

estimated from ([4] page 14-29):

𝐸 𝑎 = 0.53

𝐸 𝑚𝑣

𝐸𝑎 = Ψ𝐸 𝑚𝑣 = 0.57

1+ 1−Ψ

E𝑎 =Murphree vapor efficiency, corrected for

liquid entrainment

The actual flooding is below the design flooding value of 80%. Usually, Ψ<0.1 is

desirable. However, the optimum design value may be above this.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

An industrial gas stream is available @ 2 kg/sfrom a cracking operation of

NH3containing 72% H2, 24% N2 and 4% NH3by mole, at 202.65 kPa and 35°C.You have

been asked to design a multistage countercurrent bubble cap absorber to remove NH3

from the above stream with water as the scrubbing liquid. The liquid mass flow rate is

limited to be 2 to 3.5 times of gas mass rate.NH3concentration should not be greater than

0.003 mg per m3 of the exit gas.

Assumptions/ design considerations:

Lean water-NH3 system follows Henry’s law and the corresponding equilibrium

relation: 𝑦 ∗ = 0.85𝑥 @30°C

Isothermal gas absorption at room temperature (~30°C)

Optimum adsorption factor (𝐴 )= 1.2 to 2

Overall column efficiency=70%

Pressure drop per plate= 1 kPa

Minimum liquid loading=70% of expected maximum loading

Hints:The flow rates of liquid and gas entering and leaving the absorber is almost

constant thought out the column if a small amount of the solute gas is absorbed. This is a

typical case, also common in practice when the solute gas concentration in the feed

stream is low (dilute gas absorption). For such operations, the variation of temperature

between column top and bottom trays is insignificant (~isothermal operation). The

pressure drop, if the column is not too tall, has minor effect on the physical properties of

process fluids that could influence the column design. The section-wise determination of

number trays and design are performed if the gas stream and/ or the solvent liquid

(usually makeup solvent) are introduced at any intermediate point of the column. The

number of theoretical trays can be estimated using either Kremser equation or graphical

technique for multistage counter current lean gas absorption ([1] page 290). The vapor

loading is the highest at the bottom tray even though its variation is not appreciable. For

the safe side, the design is usually performed at the bottom tray.

NPTEL – Chemical Engineering – Chemical Engineering Design - II

The mole fractions (𝑥 ,𝑦 ) between the phases are plotted in McCabe Thiele method of

𝑥 𝑦

distillation calculation. In case of absorption, the mole ratios ( 𝑋 = 1−𝑥 , 𝑌 = 1−𝑦 ) are

used for the determination of number of trays in graphical method instead of mole

fractions.

References

[1]. Robert E. Treybal, Mass Transfer Operations, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 3rd ed. 1981.

[2]. Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 8th ed. 1997.

[3]. R. K. Sinnott, Coulson & Richardson’s Chemical Engineering: Chemical

Engineering Design (vol. 6), Butterworth-Heinemann, 3rd ed. 1999.

[4]. Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook, McGraw-Hill Companies, 7th ed. 1997.

[5]. Henry Z. Kister, Distillation Design, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1st ed. 1992.

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