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Sequencing Distillation Columns

CHEN 4460 – Process Synthesis,


Simulation and Optimization

Dr. Mario Richard Eden


Department of Chemical Engineering
Auburn University

Lecture No. 5 – Sequencing Ordinary Distillation Columns


September 18, 2007

Contains Material Developed by Dr. Daniel R. Lewin, Technion, Israel


Lecture 5 – Objectives

 Understand how distillation columns are sequenced and


how to apply heuristics to narrow the search for a near-
optimal sequence.

 Be able to apply systematic methods to determine an


optimal sequence of distillation-type separations.
Sequencing OD Columns
• Use a sequence of ordinary distillation (OD) columns to
separate a multicomponent mixture provided:

  in each column is > 1.05.


 The reboiler duty is not excessive.
 The tower pressure does not cause the mixture to approach the
TC of the mixture.
 Column pressure drop is tolerable, particularly if operation is
under vacuum.
 The overhead vapor can be at least partially condensed at the
column pressure to provide reflux without excessive refrigeration
requirements.
 The bottoms temperature for the tower pressure is not so high
that chemical decomposition occurs.
 Azeotropes do not prevent the desired separation.
Pressure/Condenser Algorithm
Number of Sequences for OD
• Number of different sequences of P –1 ordinary distillation
(OD) columns, NS, to produce P products:
[2(P  1)]!
Ns  (7.9)
P ! (P  1)!

P # of Separators Ns
2 1 1
3 2 2
4 3 5
5 4 14
6 5 42
7 6 132
8 7 429
Example: 4 Components
Example: 4 Components
Best Sequence using Heuristics
• The following guidelines are often used to reduce the
number of OD sequences that need to be studied in detail:
 Remove thermally unstable, corrosive, or chemically reactive
components early in the sequence.
 Remove final products one-by-one as distillates (the direct
sequence).
 Sequence separation points to remove, early in the sequence,
those components of greatest molar percentage in the feed.
 Sequence separation points in the order of decreasing relative
volatility so that the most difficult splits are made in the absence
of other components.
 Sequence separation points to leave last those separations that
give the highest purity products.
 Sequence separation points that favor near equimolar amounts of
distillate and bottoms in each column. The reboiler duty should
not be excessive.
Class Exercise

Design a sequence
of ordinary
distillation columns
to meet the given
specifications.
Exercise – Possible Solution

Guided by Heuristic 4, the first


column in position to separate the
key components with the greatest
SF.

 Sequence separation points in the


order of decreasing relative volatility
so that the most difficult splits are
made in the absence of other
components.
Exercise – Possible Solution

 = 1.5

 = 3.6  = 2.8

 = 1.35
Complex Columns
• In some cases, complex rather than simple distillation
columns should be considered when developing a
separation sequence.

Ref: Tedder and Rudd (1978)


Regions of Optimality
• As shown below, optimal regions for the various
configurations depend on the feed composition and the
ease-of-separation index (ESI):
ESI = AB/ BC

ESI  1.6 ESI  1.6


Sequencing V-L Separation
• When simple distillation is not practical for all separators in
a multicomponent mixture separation system, other types
of separators must be employed and the order of volatility
or other separation index may be different for each type.

• If they are all two-product separators and if T equals the


number of different types, then the number of possible
sequences is now given by:

NsT  T P 1
Ns (A)

• For example, if P = 3, and ordinary distillation, extractive


distillation with either solvent I or solvent II, and LL
extraction with solvent III are to be considered, T = 4, and
applying Eqns (7.9) and (A) gives 32 possible sequences
(for ordinary distillation alone, NS = 2).
Example: Butenes Recovery
Species b.pt.(C) Tc (C) Pc, (MPa)
Propane A -42.1 97.7 4.17
Propane
1-Butene B -6.3 146.4
Butane 3.94
n-Butane C -0.5 152.0 Butene 3.73
trans-2-Butene D 0.9 155.4Pentane 4.12
cis-2-Butene E 3.7 161.4 4.02
n-Pentane F 36.1 196.3 3.31

• For T = 2 (OD and ED), and P = 4, NS = 40.


• However, since 1-Butene must also be separated (why?),
P = 5, and NS = 224.
• Clearly,1-Butene
it would be helpful
and 2-Butene to reduce the number of
are structurally
sequences verythat needwhereas,
different, to be analyzed.
the optical
• Need isomers are much closer related and are
to difficult
eliminate infeasible separations, and enforce OD
to separate by distillation
for separations with acceptable volatilities.
Example: Butenes Recovery
Adjacent Binary Pair ij at 65.5 oC
Propane/1-Butene (A/B) 2.45
1-Butene/n-Butane (B/C) 1.18
n-Butane/trans-2-Butene (C/D) 1.03
cis-2-Butene/n-Pentane (E/F) 2.50

• Splits A/B and E/F should be by OD only (  2.5)

• Split C/D is infeasible by OD ( = 1.03). Split B/C is feasible, but an


alternative may be more attractive.

• Use of 96% furfural as a solvent for ED increases volatilities of


paraffins to olefins, causing a reversal in volatility between 1-Butene
and n-Butane, altering separation order to ACBDEF, and giving C/B =
1.17. Also, split (C/D)II with  = 1.7, should be used instead of OD.

• Thus, splits to be considered, with all others forbidden, are: (A/B…)I,


(…E/F)I, (…B/C…)I, (A/C…)I , (…C/B…)II, and (…C/D…)II
Estimating Annualized Cost
• For each separation, CA is estimated assuming 99 mol %
recovery of light key in distillate and 99 mol % recovery of
heavy key in bottoms. The following steps are followed:
 Set distillate and bottoms column pressures using
 Estimate number of stages and reflux ratio by WUG method (e.g.,
using Aspen Plus “DSTWU Column”)
 Select tray spacing (typically 2 ft.) and calculate column height, H
 Compute tower diameter, D (using Fair correlation for flooding
velocity, or Aspen Plus Tray Sizing Utility)
 Estimate installed cost of tower (e.g. Peters & Timmerhaus)
 Size and cost ancillary equipment (condenser, reboiler, reflux
drum). Sum total capital investment, CTCI
 Compute annual cost of heating and cooling utilities (COS)
 Compute CA assuming ROI (typically r = 0.2). CA = COS + r *CTCI
Butenes Recovery – 1st Branch
(A/B…)I, (…E/F)I, (…B/C…)I,
(A/C…)I , (…C/B…)II, and (…C/D…)II

Sequence Cost, $/yr

1-5-16-28 900,200
1-5-17-29 872,400
1-6-18 1,127,400
1-7-19-30 878,000
1-7-20 1,095,600

Species
Propane A
1-Butene B
n-Butane C
trans-2-Butene D
cis-2-Butene E
n-Pentane F
Butenes Recovery – 2nd Branch

(A/B…)I, (…E/F)I, (…B/C…)I,


(A/C…)I , (…C/B…)II, and (…C/D…)II

Sequence Cost, $/yr


2-(8,9-21) 888,200
2-(8,10-22) 860,400

Species
Propane A
1-Butene B
n-Butane C
trans-2-Butene D
cis-2-Butene E
n-Pentane F
Butenes Recovery – 3rd Branch
(A/B…)I, (…E/F)I, (…B/C…)I,
(A/C…)I , (…C/B…)II, and (…C/D…)II

Sequence Cost, $/yr

3-11-23-31 878,200
3-11-24 1,095,700
3-12-(25,26) 867,400
3-13-27 1,080,100

Species
Propane A
1-Butene B
n-Butane C
trans-2-Butene D
cis-2-Butene E
n-Pentane F
Butenes Recovery – 4th Branch
(A/B…)I, (…E/F)I, (…B/C…)I, (A/C…)I , (…C/B…)II, and (…C/D…)II

Sequence Cost, $/yr

4-14-15 1,115,200

Species
Propane A
1-Butene B
n-Butane C
trans-2-Butene D
cis-2-Butene E
n-Pentane F
Example: Butenes Recovery
• Lowest Cost Sequence

Sequence Cost, $/yr


2-(8,10-22) 860,400
Example: Butenes Recovery
Summary – Sequencing

On completion of this part, you should:

 Understand how distillation columns are sequenced and


how to apply heuristics to narrow the search for a near-
optimal sequence.

 Be able to apply systematic B&B methods to determine an


optimal sequence of distillation-type separations.
Other Business
• Homework
– SSL: 7.1, 7.2, 7.3
– Due Tuesday September 25

• Next Lecture
– Review of Non-Ideal Thermodynamics (SSL 258-271)