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This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
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Agenda
1. Introduction
2. History of Distillation
3. Types of Stages
4. Tray Fundamentals
5. Tray Efficiencies
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improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Introduction
Distillation
Distillation is the separation of key components by
the difference in their relative volatility, or boiling
points. It can also be called fractional distillation
or fractionation.
For close boiling mixtures many stages are
required to reach the desired purity.
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Introduction
Distillation is favored over other
separation techniques such as
crystallization or membranes when;
1. The relative volatility is greater than 1.2,
2. Products are thermally stable,
3. Large rates are desired,
4. No corrosion, precipitation or explosion issues
are present.
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Introduction
Introduction
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
X
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0.0
Y
α =5
α =3
α =2
α =1
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Introduction
Distillation is the most common separation
technique and is energy intensive.
Distillation can consume more than 50% of
a plant’s operating energy cost.
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Introduction
A way to improve an existing plant’s operating
cost is to improve their efficiency and operations
by process optimization and control.
This cannot be achieved without first an
understanding of distillation principles and
design.
KLM Technology Group
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This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Introduction
This introduction of Distillation is provided by
www.Kolmetz.Com
www.klmtechgroup.com
which is a chemical engineering web site that publishes
technical articles on distillation, process optimization,
operations training, personal improvement, process unit
safety and environmental concerns.
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Introduction
This introduction of Distillation is provided by
www.kolmetz.com
www.klmtechgroup.com
KLM Technology Group provides specialized training courses
in the areas of Petroleum Refining, Petrochemicals, Distillation,
Operational Excellence, Safety, Chemical Engineering for Non
Chemical Engineers, Petroleum Refining for Non Technical
Professionals, Petrochemicals for Non Technical Professionals,
Olefin and Aromatics Processes, and Project Management.
Our courses can be held 'in house' or in regional seminars.
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improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Distillation History
Early Distillation was basically batch stills
to produce ethanol.
The Crude ethanol was placed in a still and
heated, the vapor condensed for
consumption.
Later crude oil was placed in batch stills to
produce lamp oil.
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Distillation History
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Distillation History
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Distillation History
The next progression was to continually feed
the still and recover the light product.
Notice the separation that can be
accomplished in one stage.
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Distillation History
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Distillation History
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Distillation History
Distillation History
The next progression was to place the
stills in a column and interchange the
vapor and liquid to improve recovery.
To obtain good separation you need
many stills in series.
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Distillation History
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Distillation History
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Distillation History
Early trays were dual flow trays, which then
progressed to bubble cap trays and then
down comers were added.
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Distillation History
Distillation History
Early small towers has one or two
large bubble caps per tray.
Early flow measurement was made by
counting the strokes of a positive
displacement pump.
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Distillation History
Distillation History
Early still men set their reflux rates in strokes per
minute.
All instrumentation was local.
You ran the units by sound and feel.
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Distillation History
A Kerosene Hydrotreater built in 1952
had one bubble cap per tray on the
Stripper Tower, which was one meter in
diameter.
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1 Bubble cap per Tray
1 m
Distillation History
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Distillation History
The liquid and vapor traveled through the
center of the column and mixed on the
outer ring of each bubble cap.
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Distillation History
Distillation History
Later when tray efficiency became more
important, flow on the tray began to be studied
and several types of trays with changed flow
patterns were developed.
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Types Of Distillation Columns
Types Of Distillation Columns
1. Batch Distillation
2. Continuous Distillation
A. Multiple Feeds and Products
B. Extractive Distillation
C. Reactive Distillation
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Types Of Distillation Columns
Types Of Distillation Columns
There are many types of distillation columns; each
designed to perform specific types of separations and
each with different characteristics.
Towers can be classified into two main classifications
based on how they are operated. These two classes are
Batch Distillation and Continuous Distillation.
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Types Of Distillation Columns
Types Of Distillation Columns
Batch Distillation, the feed to the column is
introduced batch-wise. The column is charged with
a 'batch' and then the distillation process is carried
out.
When the desired task is achieved, a next batch of
feed is introduced.
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Types Of Distillation Columns
Types Of Distillation Columns
In contrast, Continuous Distillation processes a
continuous feed stream. No interruptions occur
unless there is a problem with the column or
surrounding process units.
They are capable of handling high throughputs
and are the more common of the two types.
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Types Of Distillation Columns
Types Of Distillation Columns
Additional variations may be utilized in a
Continuous Distillation Column.
The column may have multiple feed points and
products.
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Types Of Distillation Columns
Types Of Distillation Columns
The column may have a solvent added to the system to help
increase the separation; this type of column is named an
extractive distillation column.
The column may have a catalyst bed and reaction occurring
in the column; this type of column is named a reactive
distillation column.
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Types of Stages
1. Flash Drum
2. Reboiler / Condenser
3. Trays
A. Dual Flow Tray /Ripple Tray
B. Bubble Cap Tray
C. Sieve Deck Tray
D. Valve Tray
E. Down comer Advances
4. Packing
A. Random
B. Structured
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Types of Stages
1. Flash Drum
The simplest type of distillation device is the
flash drum. It is a single stage and can
approach 100% of equilibrium limits it there is
sufficient residence time.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
1. Flash Drum
An over head receiver is an example of a flash drum.
The separation of a single flash drum is limited.
A 50:50 mixture of ethylene and propylene can only be
separated to about 80:20 in a single flash drum.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Vapor
Liquid
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
2. Reboiler / Condenser
A reboiler is a flash drum with heat exchange. It can approach
100% of equilibrium limits it there is sufficient residence time. The
three normal types of reboilers are horizontal thermosyphon,
vertical thermosyphon, and kettle drums.
The best design is for the liquid from the bottom tray to pass
through the reboiler at least once before being drawn off as tower
bottoms.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
2. Reboiler / Condenser
A Condensers is a flash drum with heat exchange
There are three major types of condensers;
total,
partial,
and hot vapor by-pass.
Each has its best application.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
A. Partial Condenser
The partial condenser is best used when there is a large
difference in the overhead vapor compositions. For
example when there is a small amount of methane and
hydrogen mixed in a propylene stream, like in the
propylene towers. The partial condenser condenses the
propylene and leaves the methane and hydrogen as a
vapor to be vented from the overhead receiver.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
A. Partial Condenser
This type of condenser works well for most applications.
The system needs to be reviewed to address the potential
build of on non-condensable gases in the heat exchanger
that can reduce the cooling potential of the exchanger.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Vent
A. Partial Condenser
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
B. Total Condenser
The total condenser is best used when there is a small
difference in the overhead vapor compositions. The
overhead vapors can be condensed at approximately the
same temperature.
This system also needs to be reviewed to address the
potential build of non-condensable gases in the heat
exchanger that can reduce the cooling potential of the
exchanger.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Vent
B. Total Condenser
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
C. Hot Vapor By Pass Condenser
The hot vapor by pass condenser is best utilized when
there is the potential for large changes of overhead
vapor composition. The vapor by pass can be used to
maintain the pressure in the tower system when the light
components are lower than design. The hot vapor by
pass condenser also has a lower installed cost due to the
heat exchanger being installed on the ground level.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
C. Hot Vapor By Pass Condenser
The negatives of the Hot Vapor By Pass Condenser is that the by
pass can be opened too much, increasing the temperature of the
reflux. This reduces the tray efficiency in the top of the tower, and
raises the tower pressure, which makes hydrocarbons harder to
separate.
This system, because of the physical location of the exchanger, has
even higher potential to build non-condensable gases in the heat
exchanger that can reduce the cooling potential of the exchanger.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Vent
C. Hot Vapor By Pass Condenser
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
3. Trays
A. Baffle Trays
B. Dual Flow Tray /Ripple Tray
C. Bubble Cap Tray
D. Sieve Deck Tray
E. Valve Tray
F. Tray advances
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
3. Tray design
Trayed Columns utilize a pressure and temperature
differential to separate the products. For most trayed
columns, the weir holds a liquid level of each tray.
The vapor must over come this liquid head to move up
the column. On the tray the vapor and liquid are
contacted and then above the tray they are separated.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
3. Tray design
Any deviation that develops that restricts the vapor and
liquid from contacting and then separating will
deteriorate the column’s ability to meet design
specifications.
Trays utilize the staged contact principle to separate
products.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
3. Tray design
One of the first trays developed was the dual flow tray.
The liquid and vapor traveled up and down the column
in the same tray opening.
Tray design then moved to sieve decks, to bubble caps,
valve trays, and to directional flow valve trays. For
trays to function they need to mix the vapor and the
liquid, then separate the vapor and the liquid. Each
function must be as complete as possible.
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Staged Equipment: the mechanism
• Vapor and liquid mixes to form a froth.
• Mass transfer occurs within the froth.
• The froth overflows across a weir.
• The vapor disengages and move to the tray
above.
• The bulk liquid flows down the downcomer to
the next tray.
• The steps are repeated in the next tray.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
A. Baffle Trays
Baffle trays are trays of low fouling potential, with low
efficiency. They have open areas approaching 50%
where a high efficiency tray will have an open area of less
than 15%.
Three major types of baffle trays are
1. Shed Decks
2. Side to Side Trays
3. Disk and Donut
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
1. Shed Decks
Shed decks are essentially angle iron beams of
various sizes from two to ten inches that are
placed in rows across the column.
They typically are at on 24 inch tray spacing.
They may be set in overlapping rows or rotated
90 degrees from tray to tray.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Shed Trays
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
2. Disk and donut trays
Disk and donut trays are slightly sloped trays that allow
the liquid to splash from inner circle ring to outer circle
ring. Fouling potential of this tray is low along with the
efficiency.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Disk and Donut Trays
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
3. Side to side trays
Side-to-side trays are trays that allow the liquid to splash
from side to side. The decks can be sloped. Fouling potential
of this tray is low, as with efficiency
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
Side to Side Trays
Liquid
Vapor
Vapor
Liquid
Side-to-Side Trays
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
B. Dual Flow Tray /Ripple Tray
Because dual flow trays do not have weirs the vapor rate
is what maintains the level on the trays.
It is very important in the operation of dual flow trays to
keep the reflux and reboiler rates very stable to maintain
a constant level on the tray deck.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
B. Dual Flow Tray /Ripple Tray
These openings can vary in size from very small (1/8”) to
large (1”) diameter openings. Smaller holes have been
found experimentally to obtain higher tray capacity for
exactly the same open area.
However, smaller holes have the potential to plug up in
fouling service. Typical perforation sizes are 1/4” to 1/2”
for most applications.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
B. Dual Flow Tray /Ripple Tray
The challenge of dual flow trays is mal-distribution, the
vapor traveling up one side of the column and the liquid
down the opposite side.
In a windstorm the top of a column can move as much as
6 inches (150 MM), and build a hydraulic instability
within the column, which a dual flow tray cannot correct
within itself.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
C. Bubble Cap Tray
A bubble cap tray has a riser or chimney fitted over each
hole, and a cap that covers the riser. The cap is mounted so
that there is a space between the riser and the cap to allow
the passage of vapor.
This vapor rises through the chimney and is directed
downward by the cap, finally discharging through the slots
in the cap, and bubbling through the liquid on the tray.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
D. Sieve Deck Tray
A sieve tray is essentially a plate with holes punched
into the plate. The number and size of the holes is
based on the vapor flow up the tower.
The liquid flow is transported down the tower by down
comers, a dam and overflow device on the side of the
plate, which maintains a set liquid level on the tray.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
D. Sieve Deck Tray
To maintain the liquid level on the tray a minimum
amount of vapor traffic up the tower must be
maintained, or the liquid level on the tray will weep
down to the next tray through the holes punched on
the plate.
Typically sieve deck trays have a minimum capacity,
or downturn, of approximately 70%.
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Types of Stages
E. Valve Tray
One of the next developments was to add a
variable valve opening to the tray deck.
This valve would open in relation to the
vapor flow. The advantage to this design
was the ability to maintain the liquid level on
the tray deck.
Typically valve deck trays have a minimum
capacity, or downturn, of approximately
60%.
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Types of Stages
Tray Advancements
The latest in tray advancements
involve the flow across the tray
and the down comer design.
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Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Items that lead to improvements in efficiency
include;
1. Path flow length
2. Deck opening size
3. Elimination of stagnant zones
4. Down comer outlet devices / froth promoters
5. Weir Heights
6. Hydraulic Rates
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Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Path Flow Length – For a conventional tray
recommendation would be maintain above 500 mm.
For a multiple downcomer recommendation would be
to maintain above 300 mm
Swept back weirs that are utilized for more capacity,
has the added advantage that they increases the path
flow length.
This is one of the few cases where one can see both
capacity and efficiency increases at the same times.
Normally there is a trade off between capacity and
efficiency.
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Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Opening Size – There is an optimum bubble
size, therefore an optimum opening size.
Too small or too large can effect the size of the
bubble, leading to loss of efficiency.
Here is the normal trade off between capacity
and efficiency.
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Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Elimination of stagnant zones – parallel flow
across a cordial surface can lead to stagnant
areas.
Liquid directional valves can help eliminated
the stagnant zones.
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Concept
The devices force the liquid on the tray to go in
directions it does not naturally wish to flow.
By strategically designing and placing the
devices on the tray deck, plug flow of liquid is
achieved and stagnation eliminated.
Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
KLM Technology Group
Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Down comer outlet devices / froth
promoters – the clear liquid exiting the
down comer becomes a froth on the tray.
Items that assist this froth generation
improve efficiency. A small inlet weir will
help efficiency, but should not be utilized in
fouling service.
KLM Technology Group
Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Here is a
picture of an
air / water tray
test device.
At low vapor
flow, the clear
liquid is
shown.
KLM Technology Group
Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Weir Heights - The
weir height has an
effect on the tray
efficiency.
Recommendations
are not to exceed
100 mm or 1/6 of
tray spacing, and
50 to 75 is
suggested for all
services except
vacuum services.
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
0 20 40 60 80 100 120
Liquid Height (mm)
P
o
i
n
t

E
f
f
i
c
i
e
n
c
y

(
%
)
KLM Technology Group Types of Stages
Types of Stages
KLM Technology Group
Design of Trays to Improve
Efficiencies and Capacities
Hydraulic Rates -
The hydraulic rate
has an effect on the
tray efficiency.
At low rate trays will
weep, at high rates
froth touches the
next tray.
When the V:L ratios
are not equal molar,
efficiency will
decrease.
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Types of Stages
4. Packing
Random and Structured Packed Columns generate a
mass transfer area by providing a large surface area
over which the liquid can transfer heat and mass to
the vapor.
Packing utilizes a continuous contacting principle to
separate products. A major advantage to packed
columns is the reduction in pressure across the
column.
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
4. Packing
Typically the column pressure drop for a packed
column is less than that of a trayed column because of
the percent open area.
Typical percent open area of a trayed column is 8 to
15%, whereas a packed column can approach 50%.
Liquid accumulation for a packed column is lower
than that of a trayed column.
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Types of Stages
4. Packing
Another advantage of packed column is reduced
foaming. Packing generates thin films instead of fine
droplets for mass and heat transfer, reducing
entrainment when foaming agents are present.
Packing has been used successfully in low-pressure
distillation applications, less than 150 psig.
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Types of Stages
A. Random Packing
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Types of Stages
Types of Stages
B. Grid Packing
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Types of Stages
C. Structured Packing
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Non-staged Equipment: the mechanism
• Bulk liquid is broken into fine droplets when
in contact with packings.
• Provides large surface area for effective heat
and mass transfer.
• Appears as a continuous froth across the
height of the packed bed.
KLM Technology Group
Non-staged Equipment: the mechanism
The introduction of vapor and liquid to the packing is
very important. Trays will normally eventually equalize
whatever mal-distribution is developed by the vapor and
liquid feeds.
Packing will enhance whatever mal-distribution is
developed by the introduction of the vapor and liquid
feeds.
KLM Technology Group
Non-staged Equipment: Micro phenomena
• A distributor showers down liquid at different
locations on the packed bed.
• The liquid needs to travel some distance before
meeting and remixes into a froth.
• A layer of dead zone exist on top of bed.
• Challenge is greater if 2 or more liquid phases
exist.
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Concepts
1. Up till this point we have discussed
hardware.
2. Now let us discussed why the hardware
might work.
3. In distillation the hardware was
developed and then a study was
conducted to understand why it might
work.
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Concepts
1. Hydrocarbons separate better at lower pressure.
The nature of hydrocarbons is such that they separate
better at lower pressure. Normally the pressure of a tower
is set as low as possible based on the ability of the over head
condenser to condense the over head vapor.
The preferred cooling medium is water and the tower
pressure is raised until the over head vapor can be
condensed at 90 degrees F / 45 degrees C.
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Concepts
1. Hydrocarbons separate better at lower pressure.
A balance must be done between the construction cost and
the utility cost. The ability to separate determines the
number of trays, which is a construction cost.
To utilize lower pressure can require refrigeration, which is
a utility cost. Low pressure DeMethanizers with Methane
Refrigeration can be shown to be cost effective. Some C2
Splitters run at lower pressure than other designs utilizing
this lower pressure separation ability.
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Concepts
2. Heat is a form of energy caused by the motion of
molecules.
Heat is a form of energy. The motion of molecules causes
heat energy. When energy is added to a substance, the
motion of the molecules increases.
When energy is added to a substance and the temperature
of the substance increases, this is called sensible heat.
When energy is added to a substance and the substance
changes phases from a liquid to a gas, that energy is called
latent heat.
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Concepts
2. Heat is a form of energy caused by the motion of
molecules.
The unit of measurement of energy is called a calorie. It is
the amount of energy to raise one gram of water, 1 degree
C. To raise 1kg of water 1 degree requires 1000 calories.
To change the phase of water from liquid to a gas requires
537 calories, which is about 500 times the sensible heat
value. To change the phase of ethylene from liquid to a gas
requires 114 calories.
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Concepts
2. Heat is a form of energy caused by the motion of
molecules.
The availability and large latent heat value are the reasons
we use water as a heat carrier. The large latent heat value
can be utilized in reboilers.
Because we do not use the latent heat in pumps and
compressors, the temperature and pressure change are the
energy carriers.
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Concepts
6. Equilibrium is the state which systems will establish, if
given enough time.
A vessel filled with two hydrocarbons is said to be at
equilibrium if the number of light molecules escaping from
the liquid is equal to the number returning to the liquid.
In one vessel because of the transfer of molecules from the
liquid to the vapor, total separation of two similar
hydrocarbons cannot be obtained.
KLM Technology Group
Concepts
Concepts
Hydro
Carbon
Formula Molecular
Weight
Boiling
Point (F)
Density
(ft
3
/lb)
Flammability
Limits
Low/High
Hydrogen H
2
2.0159 -426.130 188.25 2.3 / 4.00
Methane CH
4
16.043 -258.71 23.65 5.0 / 15.0
Ethylene C
2
H
4
28.054 -154.71 13.53 2.7 / 36.0
Ethane C
2
H
6
30.070 -127.46 12.62 2.9 / 13.0
Propylene C
3
H
6
42.081 - 53.83 9.02 2.0 / 11.7
Propane C
3
H
8
44.097 - 43.73 8.61 2.0 / 9.5
Iso Butane C
4
H
10
58.123 10.78 6.53 1.8 / 8.5
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Tower Balances
A. Mass Balance
B. Energy Balance
C Composition Balance
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Mass Balance
All vessels will eventually reach a material balance,
mass in equals mass out. For distillation towers
the material balance is;
Mass In = Mass Out + Accumulation
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Mass Balance
Sources of material into the tower normally are the
feed points.
Sources of material out of the tower include
Overhead Vapor, Overhead Liquid, Side Draws
and Tower Bottoms flows.
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Mass Balance
Sources of accumulation include Overhead Receiver or
Reflux Drum, Tower Bottoms Reservoir, and level of
hydrocarbons on the trays.
Two of the accumulations are straight forward; the
Overhead Receiver and the Bottoms Reservoir.
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Mass Balance
The third accumulation, the level on the trays, is much
more difficult to quantify. It is by far the largest
accumulation in the tower.
To build the inventory in the C2 Splitter Tower takes 8
hours, but less than one hour for the over head receiver to
be filled.
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Mass Balance
The tower delta P is a guide to how much level is
on the trays. The tower delta P is based on the
amount of reflux that is added to the tower.
The reflux is made in the reboiler, therefore the
level on the trays is determined by reboiler. A
stable reboiler heat input will stabilize the tower.
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Mass Balance
One of the first tower control schemes was the
Material Balance that was developed in 1930s. A
field operator looking at sight glasses controlled
the overhead and bottoms levels.
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Mass Balance
Today with level controls, the Material Balance
Control Scheme can be utilized if the product
specifications are lax.
The Material Balance Control Scheme does not
address the accumulation of level on the trays,
the tower energy, and composition balance.
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Mass Balance
For most high purity product this is not
the best control scheme due to the large
number of trays in product fractionators.
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Mass Balance
PI
TI
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Energy Balance
All vessels will eventually reach an energy balance,
energy in equals energy out. For distillation towers
the energy balance is;
Energy In = Energy Out + Accumulation
The main source of energy into the tower normally is
the reboiler. The feed can also be a source of energy if
it is preheated.
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Energy Balance
The main sources of energy out of the tower are the
Overhead Condenser and the Tower Bottoms Flow.
Smaller sources include Overhead Vapor, Overhead
Liquid, Side Draws and Tower Feed if it is cooled.
Sources of accumulation include, Tower Bottoms
Reservoir, and level of hydrocarbons on the trays.
Two of the accumulations are straightforward; the
Overhead Receiver and the Bottoms Reservoir.
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Energy Balance
The third accumulation, the level on the trays, is much more
difficult to quantify. It is by far the largest energy
accumulation in the tower.
Three things happen on a tray when a reflux move is made.
The first is the level on the tray changes.
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Energy Balance
The second is the energy or temperature on the tray changes.
The third is that the composition on the tray changes.
If each of these changes takes one minute and there are 30 trays
in the column, it takes one hour and thirty minutes for the
change to be seen at the tower bottoms.
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Energy Balance
If there are 100 trays in the column like in the C2
Splitter, it takes five hours for the change to be seen in
the tower bottoms.
If there are 250 trays like in a Polymer Grade C3
Splitter, it takes 12 hours and thirty minutes for the
change to be seen in the tower bottoms.
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Energy Balance
The Energy Balance Control Scheme was developed in
1960s. Instrumentation was improving and flow
meters were becoming more accurate.
A current orifice plate flow meter can approach 1.0%
accuracy, if they are installed correctly and calibrated.
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Energy Balance
An average field orifice plate flow meter is normally
considered to have 2.5% accuracy.
The latest flow meters, which uses the vibrations of a
tube as the fluid flows by can approach 0.01%
accuracy.
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Energy Balance
Because of the improved instrumentation, the heat
input to the tower could be measured and controlled.
This led to the Tower Energy Balance Control
Scheme. The energy to the reboiler was measured and
used as a control point. The energy was removed in
the overhead condenser.
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Energy Balance
The overhead product was sampled and the product
was changed by the sample results. The sample
results were returned typically four to five hours after
the samples were caught.
This meant that the tower adjustments were always
behind what the tower actual operation was. To
compensate for this lag time the products were always
kept above the specification to ensure on test product.
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Energy Balance
To be consistently above the sell specification gives
away product, reducing your cash margin. The main
problem with the energy balance control scheme is
that is does not take into account the composition
balance.
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Energy Balance
PI
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Energy Balance
A later variation of the energy balance control scheme
was the Delta T Energy Balance.
At constant pressure the temperature can be an
indication of the composition and the product flow can
be controlled by the difference in the two temperature
points.
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Energy Balance
For example in a Benzene Toluene Splitter the lower
temperature point will began to increase as the toluene
concentration increases.
This will reduce the delta T between the temperature points.
The product flow can then be decreased, which will increase the
reflux to the tower, resulting in the toluene composition being
decreased at the Benzene Product.
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Energy Balance
The advantage of a delta T over a single point is
that the delta T takes the pressure deviations
out of the control scheme. This control scheme
works, but ignores the composition balance.
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Energy Balance
PI
TI
TI
DT
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Energy Balance
A third variation of the Energy Balance Control
Scheme is the Ratio Energy Balance. This is the
design of 1980s ethylene plants. It works, minimizes
reflux, but ignores the composition balance.
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Energy Balance
PI
TI
TI
DT
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Composition Balance
All vessels will eventually reach a composition
balance, composition in equals composition out. For
distillation towers the composition balance is;
Composition In = Composition Out + Accumulation
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Composition Balance
For the Propylene Tower a propylene balance can be
developed. The propylene in the feed must equal the
propylene that leaves the tower plus the
accumulation of propylene in the tower.
Sources of accumulation include, Tower Bottoms
Reservoir, Overhead Receiver and level of
hydrocarbons on the trays.
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Composition Balance
Two of the accumulations are straightforward; the
Overhead Receiver and the Bottoms Reservoir.
The third accumulation, the level on the trays, is
much more difficult to quantify. It is again the
largest accumulation in the tower.
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Composition Balance
In the 1970s analyzers were becoming reliable and
control schemes that utilized them became common.
A composition balance could be maintained by
utilizing the mass flows and the analyzer results
leading to better distillation control.
Present Stone and Webster recommendations are the
composition balance control scheme.
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Composition Balance
The tower feed and composition are analyzed and used as a
feed forward control for the product.
The product rate and composition are analyzed and used as a
feed back control.
The sum of these two is used to balance the tower considering
all three balances.
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Composition Balance
PI
AI
AI
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Tower Problem Solving
1. Foaming
2. Entrainment
3. Weeping / Dumping
4. Flooding
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Tower Problem Solving
Tower Problem Solving
Do simple checks first.
1. Ensure that levels are accurate.
2. Calculate column pressure drop and then
measure pressure drop.
3. Survey column temperature profile. Review
survey temperature reading to operation’s
readings.
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Tower Problem Solving
Tower Problem Solving
Verify Tower Operations.
1. Sample Feeds and Products.
2. Calculate mass balance to within
2% accuracy, if not calibrate flow meters.
3. Survey heating and cooling temperatures.
4. Have engineers simulate these results. If no
problems are identified consider scanning the
column.
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Tower Problem Solving
Tower Problem Solving
In distillation towers there are actually two accumulators.
The first is normally obvious, the over head receiver, the
second is the bottom section of the tower.
These accumulators are used to stabilize the operation of the
tower and down stream operations. This internal surge drum
creates an inventory to act as a buffer.
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Tower Problem Solving
Tower Problem Solving
If this internal level is allowed to rise above the reboiler
return, stripping inlet, or feed inlet, flooding can occur.
There is an inherent error built into sight glass and level
instrumentation. The sight glass and level instrumentation
contain non aerated liquid, called clear liquid, which is not a
true indication of the condition of the liquid within the tower.
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Tower Problem Solving
Tower Problem Solving
The liquid within the tower will have two levels, a clear liquid
level below the aerated liquid level. Because the aerated level
will have lower specific gravity than the clear liquid within
the instrumentation, the tower level will be higher than the
instrumentation indicates.
If the level in the tower is higher than the feed or reboiler
return, entrained liquid can be carried to the next stage
causing flooding.
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Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
Attached is a list of tower incidents that was found in the
literature from HZ Kister “ Recent Trends in Distillation
Tower Malfunctions”
1. Fouling, plugging and Coking issues
2. Tower Bottoms and Reboiler Return issues
3. Packing Liquid Distributors issue
4. Intermediate Draws
5. Assembly Mishaps
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Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
1. Fouling, plugging and Coking issues
A. Coking
B. Precipitation - salts
C. Scale, corrosion products
D. Solids in feeds
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
1. Fouling, plugging and Coking issues location
A. Packing beds and Distributors
B. Trays, active areas and down comers
C. Draw lines
D. Instrument lines
E. Feed lines
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
2. Tower Bottoms and Reboiler Return issues
A. High liquid levels
B. Impingement by vapor inlets
C. Vapor Mal-distribution
D. Water induced pressure surges
E. Leaking reboiler draw
F. Gas entrainment in liquid bottoms
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
3. Packing Liquid Distributors issues
A. Distributor Overflow
B. Plugging
C. Fabrication mishaps
D. Feed entry problems
E. Damage
F. Poor hole pattern
G. Poor irrigation quality
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
4. Intermediate Draws
A. Leakage at draw
B. Restriction of vapor - choking of draw line
C. Plugging
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Tower Incidents
Tower Incidents
5. Assembly Mishaps
A. Packing Liquid Distributors
B. Packing assembly
C. Tray Panels
D. Internal mis-orientation at feeds and draws
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Conclusions
Conclusions
Distillation is one of the major unit operations in
processing plants. It is energy intensive and has
opportunities to be optimized. Product recovery
and purity can be improved by understanding
the principles of distillation.
These principles need to be understood in
advance of operating and trouble shooting a
distillation column for the operator or problem
solving to be effective.
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Introduction
This introduction of Distillation is provided by
www.kolmetz.com
www.klmtechgroup.com
Kolmetz.Com is a chemical engineering web site that
publishes technical articles on distillation, process
optimization, operations training, personal improvement,
process unit safety and environmental concerns.
KLM Technology Group
Practical Solutions
This introduction of Distillation is provided by www.Kolmetz.Com which is a chemical engineering web
site that publishes technical articles on distillation, process optimization, operations training, personal
improvement, process unit safety and environmental concerns.
Introduction
This introduction of Distillation is provided by
www.kolmetz.com
www.klmtechgroup.com
KLM Technology Group provides specialized training courses
in the areas of Petroleum Refining, Petrochemicals, Distillation,
Operational Excellence, Safety, Chemical Engineering for Non
Chemical Engineers, Petroleum Refining for Non Technical
Professionals, Petrochemicals for Non Technical Professionals,
Olefin and Aromatics Processes, and Project Management.
Our courses can be held 'in house' or in regional seminars.

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