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Sample Problem #7:

A rectification column is fed 100kg mol/h of a mixture


of 50 mol % benzene and 50 mol % toluene at
101.32 kPa abs pressure. The feed is liquid at the
boiling point. The distillate is to contain 90 mol %
benzene and the bottoms 10 mol % benzene. The
reflux ratio is 4.52:1. Calculate the kg mol/h distillate,
kg mol/h bottoms, and the number of theoretical trays
needed using the McCabe-Thiele method. Using
graphical methods, calculate the minimum reflux ratio
Rm and the minimum number of theoretical plates at
total reflux.
Equilibrium data at column pressure, mole fraction benzene

x y x y

0.10 0.21 0.60 0.79

0.20 0.37 0.70 0.86

0.30 0.51 0.80 0.91

0.40 0.64 0.90 0.96

0.50 0.72 0.95 0.98


Solution:
Step 1: Draw diagram total
condenser

L0
100 kgmols/h L0 Distillate = ?
Feed Distilling R= 4.52 xD = 0.9
Column D
(liquid at 101.32
boiling point) kPa Rmin = ?
xF = 0.5
n=?
Bottoms = ?
nmin = ? partial xB = 0.1
reboiler
Step 2: Plot equilibrium data on McCabe-Thiele
diagram
BENZENE TOLUENE SYSTEM

0.8

0.6
y

0.4

0.2

0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
Step 3: Plot xD, xF, and xD on

Benzene-Toluene System
1

0.8

0.6
y

0.4

0.2

0
xB=0.1 xF=0.5 xD=0.9
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
Note: xD, xF, and xB on the diagonal are a point of upper
operating line, feed line, and lower operating line
Step 4: Plot rectifying operating line
Equation of upper operating line:

R xD
y n+1 = xn +
R +1 R +1

xD 0.9
y-intercept = = = 0.163
R + 1 4.52 + 1
Benzene-Toluene System

1
Rectifying
Operating
0.8
Line

0.6
y

0.4

0.2
y-int.
=0.163
0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
Step 5: Plot feed line
Since feed is saturated liquid (liquid at the boiling point),
quality q = 1 and feed line is vertical

Benzene-Toluene System
1

0.8
Feed Line
0.6
y

0.4

0.2

0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
Step 6: Plot stripping operating line
Note: The lower operating line will also intersect at the
intersection of feed line and upper operating line.
Benzene-Toluene System
1

0.8 Stripping
Operating line
0.6
y

0.4

0.2

0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
Step 7: Step off stages
Benzene-Toluene System
1 1
2
0.8 3

0.6 4
5
y

0.4
6
0.2 N=5.9

0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x

N = 5.9 = theoretical trays + reboiler = n + 1


∴ n = 4.9 theoretical trays
Step 8: To get D and B, set up material balances

Total balance

=D+B

More volatile component balance

F
F = xDD + xBB

.5(100) = 0.9D + 0.1B

Solving these two equations


Step 9: To determine Nmin , step off stages using
diagonal as overall operating line
At total reflux, R =∞ and y-intercept of the upper operating line =0;
∴ overall operating line coincides with the diagonal
Benzene-Toluene System
1

0.8

0.6
y

0.4

0.2
Nmin = 4.9
0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
Step 10: To determine Rmin , locate pinch point

Benzene-Toluene System

0.8 Pinch point

0.6
y

y-int for Rm = 0.495


0.4

0.2

0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
x
xD
y-int of rectifying line =
R +1

0.90
0.495 =
Rm + 1

∴ Rm = 0.82
Answers:

D = 50 kmols/h and B = 50 kmols/h

n = 4.9 theoretical trays

nmin = 3.9

Rm = 0.82