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**A Real Time, Dynamic, Binary Distillation Simulation for WEB Based Instruction
**

Charles. R. Nippert Associate Professor Widener University

Abstract Simulation of complex processes in real time is essential for web-based instruction. Dynamic distillation has unique problems because of the large number of differential equations that must be solved simultaneously. This paper describes a simplified model that simulates the dynamic operation of the distillation of isopropanol/water. The model simulates all aspects of batch operation; beginning from cold startup, through the startup, total reflux operation, production of product, through shutdown. The control scheme is included so that users can operate and tune controllers. In spite of numerous simplifications, the model preserves the essential features for a real time simulation. The entire applet is only approximately 70K and is used for Internet based laboratory instruction. This paper focuses on the derivation of the model. A more complete discussion of the results will be presented at some other time. Background A process simulation of a binary batch distillation column was desired for a portion of the on line Virtual Chemical Engineering Laboratory (VCEL) being developed at Widener University1. The model was to be used to acquaint students with the operation of an existing seven-stage distillation column and had to simulate the operation from cold startup, through operation and shut down. Therefore, it was necessary to simulate the entire behavior of the unit. Still feed is a mixture isopropanol/water at a composition of approximately 3 mole% isopropanol (an azeotrope exists at ~76 mole % isopropanol). Additionally, the finished model would be part of an interactive JAVA applet that would run at least at real time speed. The use of JAVA applets reduces the load to the web server by shifting the computational work to the client computer. However, this mode of operation places severe restrictions both on the size of the model (because the applet containing the entire model and associated graphical user interface must be sent across the web) and the speed of calculation. The calculations must be done on the client computer quickly enough so that the applet has adequate time to update screen graphics and scan the user’s keyboard and pointing device. The design criteria was that the finished applet be able to run on a Pentium 1 100 MHz machine, which was judged to be the slowest machine likely to be used by a student. Therefore, the model was made as simple as possible while still preserving behaviors of the unit essential to familiarize students with its operation.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

When the flow has stabilized. The startup of the batch still consists of heating the charged reboiler with liquid at ambient temperature. Condensate enters an accumulator from which reflux can be pumped through a preheater back to the column and product can be sent to a receiving tank. a PID control using accumulator level as input and reflux flow as output is switched to automatic. Product can be removed using one of two standard control schemes. either 1) constant temperature (representing composition) or 2) constant reflux flow. A plot of temperatures during a typical startup is shown in figure 1 Figure 1 Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001.Prototype description The distillation unit being modeled is a seven stage Technovate column with electrically heated reboiler and total condenser. In either method a PID controller uses liquid level in the accumulator to regulate product flow. product and reflux flows can be measured and controlled by the PLC. Constant flow is achieved by setting the reflux valve to a constant setting. The unit is equipped with and OPTO LCSX programmable logic controller (PLC). The column is heated by air and vapor rising from the reboiler. Constant temperature control is achieved by using a PID controller to control temperature using reflux flow. the reflux preheater is switched on and the unit is run at total reflux for several minutes. Once condensate fills the accumlator level to a specified level. Vapor flow is calculated from the sum of the product and reflux flows. This method of product takeoff allows the product flow to be measured. Power to the reboiler and reflux preheater is controlled manually. American Society for Engineering Education .

Of particular interest here the work of Yue and Billing3. Ruiz and Cameron4. Therefore. A binary model was developed to minimize the applet size and maximize computational speed. the reboiler heat balance is described by: dT n rCp r = Q (1) dt where Cp = the molar heat of the material in the reboiler (joule/gmoleK) nr = the moles in the reboiler (gmole) Q = heat input. however this model is designed for systems with constant relative volatility and therefore. Therefore. the column can be assumed to be at one atmosphere. taken to be the power input to reboiler (W) Tr = reboiler temperature (K) t = time (sec) Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. who used a dynamic simulation as part of a training course. etc. Distillation simulation requires the solution of a stiff system of differential equations normally consisting of a heat balance. total material balance and k-1 component material balances (where k is the number of chemical species present) for each tray. density. There are several complete models of distillation available. 30).5 presented a complete and detailed model of multicomponent distillation in a lengthy series of articles. this model does not include startup. . This model was then used to simulate startup and shutdown (29. Linear interpolation is used to provide intermediate values to minimize calculation time. Giani. for thermodynamic calculations. Additional energy and material balances are required for the reboiler and condenser. column pressure. This mixture has an azeotrope at 76 mole% 2 propanol and one atmosphere. are evaluated for each tray at every integration step. Mathematical development. The program contains Txy data from Perry’s Handbook in a tabular form.Literature A dynamic model of continuous binary distillation is included in Luyben2.) are estimated by linear interpolation of pure component values. could not be used. together with other column properties such as liquid levels. etc. Additional thermodynamic properties (molar heat capacity. Thermodynamic data. it is essential that the thermodynamic calculations be extremely fast. Reboiler When the reboiler is below the boiling point. The total pressure difference between the condenser and reboiler is small compared to atmospheric pressure. American Society for Engineering Education . Additionally. The distillation column is run under atmospheric pressure using a mixture of isoproanol and water.

(gmole) Vi-1 = the vapor flow rate from the next lower column (gmole. During the second portion of startup. Linearizing Ui yields U ’i dT m t C t i = (U i’ Tr + U i )(Ti − Tr ) (3b) dt where U ’i and Ui are experimentally measured for the first two plates and assumed 0 for the remaining ones. the rate of vapor formation is V given by Q (2) V= ∆H v where V = vapor from the reboiler (gmole/sec) ∆Hv = molar heart of vaporization (joule/sec) Tray Heat Balance The rise in temperature of the lower stages prior to the onset of full boiling (figure 1) is assumed to be due primarily to free convection from the reboiler. Therefore vapor rise through trays already at the boiling temperature until reaching a tray below its boiling point.sec) Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. negligible vapor hold up is assumed. the plates contain no liquid. Following the approach used by __ and __. American Society for Engineering Education . During this portion vapor from the reboiler is rising at a rate V from equation 2. during this stage air is in the column and little condensation occurs.When the liquid is at the boiling point. consequently. The differential equation describing tray temperature during this phase is: d(m t C t + n i C P )Ti = ∆H v Vi −1 (4) dt where ni = the moles of liquid on the i-th tray determined from a material balance described below. tray heating is the result of condensation of vapors heating the column. All the vapor condenses at this tray until its temperature reaches the boiling point. Note that Ui is a strong function of temperature for free convection between vertical surfaces. The equation describing heating in this stage is dT m t C t i = U i (Ti − Tr ) (3a) dt where Ct = the mean heat capacity of the tray itself (the same for each tray) (joule/gm K) mt = the mass of the tray (the same for each tray) (gm) Ti = the temperature of the tray (K) Ui = the heat transfer coefficient between the i-th stage and the reboiler due to free convection of air The overall heat transfer coefficient between the reboiler and a tray rather than between the tray and the next lower one is used for computation simplicity.

American Society for Engineering Education . the heat balance is neglected (MacCabe-Thiele assumptions) and tray temperature is taken to be the boiling point at the tray composition. Once a tray has achieved the boiling point. the vapor flow from all trays at their boiling points is taken to be the same. This assumption is reasonable because the molar heats of vaporization of ispropanol and water are similar (39. Foaming is included in the model by setting hw to an empirically determined value that is lower than the actual value.9 kJ/gmol vs 40. This yields equation 7a dx i n i = x i +1 L i +1 − x i L i + Vi −1 y i −1 − Vi y i (7a) dt where xi = the mole fraction of isopropanol in the liquid phase of the i-th tray yi = the mole fraction of isopropanol in the vapor phase of the i-th tray Differentiating the left hand of 7a and substituting the value of dni/dt from equation 5 yields equation 7b dx i (x i +1 − x i )L i +1 + Vi −1 (y i −1 − x i ) − Vi (y i − x i ) (7b) = dt ni Accumulator Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. The mole fraction of isopropanol in the liquid phase is determined from a component material balance assuming perfect mixing of liquid on the tray.As a result.7 kJ/gmole) Tray Material balances Liquid Total material balance The material balance for a tray is given by equation 5: dn i = L i +1 − L i + Vi −1 − Vi (5) dt where Li = the liquid flow from the i-th tray (LN+1 = the reflux flow) (gmole/sec) Vi = the vapor flow from the i-th tray (V0 = the reboiler flow) (gmole/sec) ni = the moles on the i-th tray (gmole) The liquid flow from the i-th tray is given by L i = k (h i − h w ) 3 (6) 3/2 where k = the wier constant (empirically determined) (gmole/m sec) hi = the height of liquid in the i-th tray (m) hw = the wier height (m) 2 The constant k normally includes a term to account for increase in liquid height associated with vapor flow. The vapor flow from any tray below its boiling point is 0 (all the vapor is assumed to condense).

Perfect mixing is also assumed in the accumulator because the pump for the reflux and product is oversized so that a large stream recirculates back to the accumulator. Because of this fact. dx a (y N − x a )VN (9b) = dt na where xa = the mole fraction of isopropanol in the accumulator The total condenser is oversized and the condensate enters the accumulator at ~ 30C. equation 9 upon substitution and rearrangement yields. The reflux is never raised above boiling in ordinary operation. Reflux preheater The reflux preheater exhibits a second order response and therefore. must be modeled in more detail than the reboiler. the reflux preheater must be modeled to provide the temperature of the reflux. so phase changes are neglected to simplify computation. The overall material balance for the accumulator is dn a = VN − R − D (8) dt where na = the moles of liquid in the accumulator (gmole) D = the product (distillate) flow rate (gmole/sec) ha = the height of liquid in the accumulator (m) The derivative of the mole fraction of isopropanol in the accumulator is given by a component material balance (equation 9a) dx a n a = y N VN − x a (R − D ) (9a) dt After differentiating the left hand side and replacing dna/dt with the right hand side of equation 8. American Society for Engineering Education . a heat balance around the condenser is unnecessary for this model. and hence the temperature profile of the column. The preheater consists of an electric heater immersed in the reflux stream. element (joule/m2 sec) me = the mass of the heating element (gm) Te = the temperature of the heating element (K) Tr = the temperature of the reflux (K) Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. The temperature of the electric heating element is calculated from an energy balance assuming the heating element is at uniform temperature dT m e C e e = Q e − h r A r (Te − Tr ) (10) dt where Ar = the area of the reflux heater Ce = the mean heat capacity of the heating element (joule/gm K) hr = the heat transfer coefficient between the reflux and the heating . However. and the presence of the reflux preheater.

Thus the vapor phase composition is given by y i = [Y (x i ) − y i −1 ]ε + y i −1 (13) where Y(xi) = the theoretical vapor phase composition determined from the xy diagram ε = the Murphree efficiency (assumed to be constant throughout the process) Shutdown Shutdown of distillation can be modeled simply.Note that it would be more appropriate to use the log mean temperature difference in equation 10. dTi = h s A s (Ti − Ts ) dt where k’ = a constant related to Ts = the ambient temperature (20 C) Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. The second term represents the heat delivered to the reflux. process air. however the Te – Tr is used for computational simplicity. Liquid drains from the trays following equations 5 and 6. Heat loss from the surroundings is assumed to follow a first order equation with a small value of k’. The applet in which the model runs automatically ends after user turns off the power. and cooling water are turned off. The equation used to determine dTr/dt is dT n r C p r = h r A r (Te − Tr ) + (Tin − Tr )VN (11) dt where nr = the moles of reflux in the heater (gmole) Tin = the inlet temperature (assumed to be 25C) PID Controllers The PID controllers are simulated using the control algorithm used by the OPTO LCSX itself and given by equation 12 (e − 2e last + e last −1 ) ∆O = P (e − e last ) + Ti e∆t − TD (12) ∆t where e = the most recently measured difference between the measured variable and the set point elast = the deviation measured at the last time interval elast-1 = the deviation measured at the second last time interval P = the controller gain TI = the controller constant for integral action TD = the controller constant for derivative action Tray Efficiency The Murphree tray efficiency is assumed constant at 30% over the entire range of conditions. American Society for Engineering Education .

A simulation of the startup is shown Figure 2.005% on total material balance after a simulated hour of operation. Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. To reduce the size of the Jacobean (thereby speeding computation) the derivatives for temperature during start up (eqns. American Society for Engineering Education . 1 and 3b).Solution of the differential equations The differential equations for liquid flows and compositions are coupled and therefore must be integrated carefully.2% of isopropanol and 0. Tests The accountability of the simulation was found to be within 0. An important consideration is minimizing the size of the n x n Jacobean that must be inverted at each step. This simplified model preserves the general shape of the temperature curve. This approach requires the simultaneous evaluation of all coupled derivatives in the system. 10 and 11) are integrated separately using Euler integration after the SIRK calculation of flows and liquid compositions. and the equations for the reflux preheater (eqns. A semi implicit Runge Kutta algorithm (SIRK) described by Holland and Liapis8 is used for the accumulator and those trays having achieved thermal equilibrium.

.. 3 (1986): 199-211. A. Ruiz. no. The site is open to all for examination and use. 1973: 148-159. R. Gani. Ruiz.Bibliography 1. Process Modeling.. 7-3 1987). Nippert has been on the faculty of the Chemical Engineering Department of Widener University. 6. Computers & Chemical Engineering.I Model Description and Applications”. 8.II Numerical and Computational Aspects”. 2000 2.. J. R. Ruiz. C. McGrawHill. Computers & Chemical Engineering. 5. 10. 10. 3 (1988): 1-14. C. CA. no. Gani. European Federation of Chemical Engineering: B1-B10.html. 1983. 62 (Sep 7-3 1987). 10. I. C.E.T.. W. Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001. “Microcomputer simulation of distillation column operation and control”. 3 (1986): 181-198. EFCE Publication Series (European Federation of Chemical Engineering) no. Los Angeles.edu/~crn0001/VirtualLab.D.T. R. EFCE Publication Series (European Federation of Chemical Engineering) no. “Generalized Model for Distillation Columns . Simulation.widener.Ch. A.T. C. 12-17.. A. “Generalized Model for Distillation Columns . Chester Pa.A. Computers & Chemical Engineering.I. 7. Charles R. "Development of a WEB Based Virtual Laboratory".. “Generalized Model for Distillation Columns .A.. Yue.R. Gani. and Control for Chemical Engineers.. “Simulation of startup and shutdown behavior of distillation operations”.. R. found at www2. Annual Meeting. P. Cameron. no.I. I. Luyben. Cameron. American Society for Engineering Education . 3. Nov. Gani. Nippert Prof. McGraw-Hill. He is married and has two children. Holland..III Study of Startup Operations”. Ruiz. Cameron. P. Chemical Engineering Education in the New Millennium: Topical Conference Proceedings.A. 62 (Sept. since 1980. Billing. Computer Methods for Solving Dynamic Separations Problems. L. C. His current interests include the development of web-based instructional materials for use in a variety of engineering courses. I. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and worked for several years at KaweckiBerylco (now Cabot Specialty Metals). Nippert.. European Federation of Chemical Engineering: B39-B50. The material is contained in “The Virtual Chemical Engineering Laboratory”.. C. New York. Liapis. 4. L.

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