nary mixtures, where 30
50% savings on both energyand capital costs have been achieved.
In industrial processes, the mixtures to be separatedoften contain four or more components. Recently, re-search on the design and synthesis of thermally coupledschemes for four or more component mixtures hasreceived considerable effort. Sargent and Gaminiban-dara
presented a Petlyuk-type fully thermally coupled(FC) scheme for a four-component mixture. Kaibel
andChristiansen et al.
have introduced distillation col-umns with vertical partitions for multicomponent sepa-rations. Agrawal
presented some satellite columnarrangements of fully coupled schemes for four or morecomponent mixtures. Agrawal
also illustrated somethermodynamically equivalent FC schemes for a specificknown FC configuration for four and five componentmixtures. Some specific thermally coupled configura-tions of four or more component mixtures have beenparametrically studied.
The recent studies haveshown that the known four or more component ther-mally coupled schemes are useful in specific cases.
Recently, some new results on the systematic synthesisof thermally coupled column configurations based on theidentification of distinct separation sequences for fouror more component mixtures have been presented.
It can be said that the available works on the synthesisof thermally coupled distillation configurations for fouror more component mixtures have created a largeamount of feasible alternatives to look for promisingdistillation systems for a specific multicomponent distil-lation.In the previous works, we illustrated that a completesubspace of partially thermally coupled (PC) configura-tions for any
-component mixture can be exactlymapped from the traditional simple column configura-tions.
In terms of tradeoff between economics andoperability, the PC configurations have several advan-tages compared to the FC configurations when thenumber of components in the feed mixture increases(e.g., five or more components).
A systematic casestudy for a five-component mixture has fully demon-strated the significant advantages of the PC configura-tions over the traditional simple column configurationsfor both energy and capital costs.
In any PC configu-ration of a multicomponent distillation, there is elimi-nation of
2 condensers and/or reboilers, which areassociated with submixtures of two or more componentsin its corresponding traditional simple column config-uration; the remaining
condensers and reboilers inthe PC configuration are associated with the
heat exchangers need external utili-ties at the corresponding condensers and reboilers.
It is observed that, among all of the PC configurations for a multicomponent distillation, the most volatile compo-nent must be captured in a rectifying section with acondenser and the least volatile component must becaptured in a stripping section with a reboiler. However,the middle component(s) are flexible to be captured either in a rectifying section with a condenser or in astripping section with a reboiler
. It is known that all of the thermally linked columns are operated at roughlythe same nominal pressure in a thermally coupledconfiguration in order to facilitate the vapor transfersbetween the columns.
For ternary mixtures, Linnhoff et al.
have concluded that the same nominal pressureof the two thermally linked columns would prohibit theheat integration of the columns with the backgroundprocess. However, for four or more component mixtures,such a nominal pressure will certainly provide theopportunities for heat integrations between the con-densers and reboilers of the middle components withinsome of the PC configurations. It will produce the heat-integrated partially coupled configurations (HIPC).These HIPC configurations take the advantages of boththermal coupling and heat integration for a multicom-ponent distillation. Therefore, they have the potentialto have bigger savings on both energy and capital coststhan either thermally coupled configurations or heat-integrated simple column configurations. It will beillustrated in the next section that, for a four-componentmixture, there is only one such HIPC scheme, while forfive or more component mixtures, a subspace of theHIPC configurations can be formulated. It will producea specific search space of the heat-integrated thermallycoupled alternatives for the optimal design of distillationsystems for multicomponent separations.The main objective of this paper is to systematicallysynthesize the heat-integrated thermally coupled sys-tems for multicomponent distillations. First, the genera-tion of the heat-integrated thermally coupled configu-rations (HITCs) with sharp splits for an
-componentmixture is presented. A formula is derived to calculatethe number of possible HIPC configurations for an
-component mixture. A simple and easy-to-use proce-dure is presented to obtain the practical HIPC configu-rations for any
-component mixture. Then, the ther-modynamically equivalent structures of the HIPCconfigurations are formulated. Finally, the other pos-sible HITCs involving sloppy splits for a multicompo-nent distillation are discussed.
2. Generation of the HIPC Configurations for aMulticomponent Distillation
Let us first analyze the PC configurations for aternary mixture ABC. For ternary separations, thereare two simple column sequences called direct sequence(DS) and indirect sequence (IS). The correspondingpartially coupled schemes for DS and IS are shown inparts a and b of Figure 1, respectively.
It is seen thatwhile the most volatile component A and the leastvolatile component C are produced from the correspond-ing rectifying section with condenser A and the strippingsection with reboiler C in both PC configurations, themiddle component B is produced from the rectifyingsection with condenser B in Figure 1a and the strippingsection with reboiler B in Figure 1b. This means thatwe have the freedom to conduct the separation of themiddle component(s) in different ways among the pos-sible configurations for a multicomponent distillation.
This observation gives us the inspiration to deal withthe middle components for four or more component mixtures that can produce the HITCs
. For four or morecomponent mixtures, there are two or more middlecomponents. Thus, one can conduct
the lighter middlecomponent(s)
(LMC) being captured in stripping sectionswith reboiler(s) in some columns and
the heavier middlecomponent(s)
(HMC) captured in rectifying sections withcondenser(s) in other columns within a PC configura-tion. It will create opportunities for heat integrationsamong the heat exchangers associated with intermedi-ate volatility products. Such an opportunity first ap-pears for a quaternary mixture PC configuration, asshown in Figure 1c.
Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol. 42, No. 19, 2003