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Fenske equation for minimum equilibrium

stages
For a specified separation between two key components

of a multi component mixture, an exact expression is easily


developed for the required minimum no of equilibrium stages
which corresponds to total reflux.
This condition can be achieved in practice by charging the
column with feedstock and operating it with no further input
of feed and no withdrawal of distillate or bottoms as illustrated
in figure .
For S.S. operation within the column, heat input to the reboiler
and heat output from the condenser are made equal (assuming
no heat losses).
Then, by material balance, vapor and liquid streams passing
between any pair of stages have equal flow rates and compositions,

However, molar vapour & liquid flow rates will change


from stage to stage unless the assumption of constant
molar overflow is valid.
Derivation of an exact equation for the minimun nos
of equilibrium stages involves only the definition of
the K value & the mole fraction equality between
stages.
For component i at stage 1 in above-----1
figure.
-----1

----2

------3

-----4

Combining 3 & 4, we have,


-----5

Equation 5 is readily extended in this fashion to give;


-------6

-------7

Combining 6 & 7 we find that


or

-----9

Where,

the relative volatility between


component i& j

Eq.9 relates the relative

enrichments of any 2

components i & j over a cascades of N theoretical


stages to the relative volatilities between the two
components.
Limitation to eq.9 is that the conditions of each stage
must be known to compute the set of

relative

volatilities. Therefore equaiton 9 is rarely used.


However

if

the

relative

constant, eq 9 simplifies to

volatilities

is

assumed

----10

-----11

Eq. 11 is extremely useful. It is referred to as Fenske


equation
When i= the light key (LK) & j= the heavy component
(HK),

the

influenced

minimum

no

of

equilibrium

stages

is

by the non key components only by their

effect (if any) on the value of the


relative volatility between the key components.

A more convenient form of equation 11 is obtained by


replacing the product of mole fraction ratios by the
equivalent product of mole distribution ratios in term
of component distillate & bottom flow rates d & b,
respectively, and by replacing the relative
volatility by a geometric mean of the top stage and
bottom stages
values.
------------------(12)
Thus,

Where the mean relative volatility is approximated by,


------------------(13)

Fenskes equation is reliable except


varies appreci
column and/or when the mixture forms non ideal liquid s

Distribution of non key components at total reflux


The fenske equation is not restricted to the two
components.
Once Nmin is known eq. 12 can be used to calculate
molar flow rates of d & b for all non key components.
These values provide a first approximation to the
actual product distribution when more than the
minimum number of stages are employed.
Let i = a non key component and j = the heavy key
or reference components denoted by r.

------------------------(14)

Then eq 12 becomes,

In 14 gives

-----15
-----16

Equations 15 & 16 gives the distribution of non key


components at total reflux.