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Continuous Multistage Distillation

 We now understand what drives flash separations


 We know they are limited by the Vapour Liquid Equilibrium, and
the fraction of feed evaporated

condenser
D/F can be increased by:

D 1. Higher temperature
F
(isothermal flash)
2. Lower pressure (adiabatic
heat W flash)
Continuous Multistage Distillation

D/F = 0

If the feed fraction


xF = 0.3…

The maximum top


product
composition, xD is
0.664
Continuous Multistage Distillation

D/F = 0

xD falls as D/F
increases
Continuous Multistage Distillation

 We now understand what drives flash separations


 We know they are limited by the Vapour Liquid Equilibrium
 To get enhanced separations beyond the VLE we need to
investigate multi-stage systems

condenser We could take the top


product, D, and use this
as a feed to the second
stage…
D
F …or we could take the
bottom product, W, and
use this as a feed to the
next stage…
heat W
Continuous Multistage Distillation
D2

D1

D0
W2

F W1

W0

 How would this process work?

Temperature in each stage determines D/F, xD and xW

Product flowrate gets progressively smaller as the number of stages


increases
Continuous Multistage Distillation

y
1 f 
x
xF
xD2 = 0.872 f f
xD1 = 0.763
If we have a feed
composition of 30%:
xD0 = 0.584
Temperature
determines D/F in each
stage, hence the
gradient

Top product gets


continually richer in the
MVC
Continuous Multistage Distillation
D2

D1

D0
W2

F W1

W0

This approach will give us the desired separation, but each stage
needs/results in:

1. Energy Input and Condenser


2. Waste Stream
3. Dedicated Flash Vessel
Continuous Multistage Distillation
1. Energy Input and Condenser
2. Waste Stream
3. Dedicated Flash Vessel

Why not let the vapour from the previous stage provide the
heat to vaporise some of the liquid – then we don’t need a
condenser or a ‘heater’ for each stage.

Vapour can bubble through the liquid – some condensation of components in


vapour and some vaporisation of components in liquid, but…

Where does the liquid come from ????


Continuous Multistage Distillation
1. Energy Input and Condenser
2. Waste Stream
3. Dedicated Flash Vessel

What if we were to introduce the ‘waste’ liquids back to the


lower stages?
V3
Counter-current ‘rectifying’
process
V2 L4

Where would the liquid in the


L3 last (top) stage come from?
V1

L2
Some of the top product is returned to
the top stage as a ‘reflux’
L1
Continuous Multistage Distillation
1. Energy Input and Condenser
2. Waste Stream
3. Dedicated Flash Vessel

If we wanted to reduce the concentration of the MVC in the liquid, we could


recycle the waste vapour streams to the previous stage.

Counter-current ‘Stripping’
process

Learn the terminology!


– Rectifying enriches the MVC
– Stripping removes the MVC
Continuous Multistage Distillation
1. Energy Input and Condenser
2. Waste Stream
3. Dedicated Flash Vessel

We can, obviously, combine rectifying and stripping sections into a single


process
D

W
Continuous Multistage Distillation
1. Energy Input and Condenser
2. Waste Stream
3. Dedicated Flash Vessel

Can we carry out the Stripping and Rectifying operations in a single piece of
equipment?

In practice, we stack the stages on top of each other – this is the standard
distillation column.
Binary Counter-Current Plate (Trayed) Column

Condenser

Reflux
Top product

Reflux Enriching (rectifying) section


drum

Feed

Stripping section

Reboiler

Bottom product
Continuous Multistage Distillation

 What is the trade-off?


 What happens to the Vapour-Liquid Equilibrium when we use a distillation column
rather than multiple flash vessels?

Liquid flows to
condenser tray beneath

F D

hea W
t

Vapour and Liquid are


in equilibrium Vapour from
stage below
Continuous Multistage Distillation

If we bubble the vapour through the liquid in the next stage, there is
insufficient time to achieve equilibrium.

The vapour and liquid in a multistage distillation column are not in


equilibrium

A greater number of stages are required to perform the separation.

The savings in capital cost (number of vessels) and energy


requirements (only one heating and cooling stage required) more
than make up for the need for a greater number of stages.

 Most commercial scale distillation is carried out in staged columns


 We will explore the theory and design methods for multistage distillation
processes