RadFrac for Dummies: A How to Guide on Aspen Plus



This example will show how to use Radfrac on Aspen Plus to model distillation columns. The feed shown in the diagram above will consist of 50 lbmol/hr of Methanol and 50 lbmol/hr of water. A purity of 99.5% is desired in both the bottoms and distillate product streams using a reflux ratio of 1.5.




If you don’t know how to log on to Aspen Plus, please see the “Getting Started on Aspen Plus” manual. Choose the Template Option Click “OK.”

This window allows you to select a particular simulation option. For this example, select the “General with English Units” option. Also, make sure that the option in the Run Type box displays “Flowsheet” Click “OK”




Each time Aspen Plus is opened and a new file is created or an existing file is opened this login window appears. Enter Unix host for the server type, sylvan.che.sdsmt.edu for the node name, and your correct User name and Password. Click “OK” Another window will appear indicating the connection was established. Click “OK.”

Aspen Plus automatically assigns labels to every stream and block. To turn this option off, click on the Tools menu in the toolbar and select Options. In the Options window, click on the folder tab labeled “Flowsheet”. Next, click on these boxes under the "Stream and Block labels." The check marks in the boxes should disappear indicating that these options are disabled. Click 'OK' when through.

To create the streams. the second picture from the left in the top row. . Click on Fract1. click on the Columns tab found in the selection of pieces of equipment. A red arrow signifies a stream that is required for a design specification. for this example “Dist” was chosen.Radfrac © SDSM&T 4/35 To start the simulation. Next. A prompt should appear asking to input the block ID. Distill and Bottoms streams need to be created. Go to the down arrow to the right of the RadFrac selection. move the cursor into the white area and click on the desired position for the column. Red and blue arrows appear around the column. first click on the “Material Streams” box at the bottom left corner of the window. blue arrows signify an optional stream. The Feed.

Label the product “Bottoms”. All the necessary streams have been added and numerical data can now be entered. . Label the top product stream “Distill”. Only one of the red arrows needs to be chosen at the top of the column. Chose the bottom of the two red arrows at the top of the column. We next need to add the product streams. Enter “Feed” in the ID box when prompted for this simulation. For this simulation there is only one feed stream.Radfrac © SDSM&T 5/35 Click on the red arrow on the left side of the column to add your feed stream. Next add the bottom product stream using the red arrow. if there were more feed streams use the blue arrow on the left of the column to add more streams. This column will have a total condenser and therefore liquid distillate.

A box will then appear telling you what part of the flowsheet you are missing. If this box doesn’t appear it is because your flowsheet isn’t complete. If this box doesn’t appear you can go to Setup on the left-hand side of the box and click on that. This box should appear and a title for this simulation can now be entered although is not mandatory for this simulation.Radfrac © SDSM&T 6/35 Now we are ready to begin entering the necessary numerical data. Click on the Next button to continue entering numerical data. This button is blue and is located in the tool bar at the top of the window. Click on the “Next” button to begin entering the data. . Click “OK”.

. Type “Methanol” under the column “Component ID” and press the Enter key.Radfrac © SDSM&T 7/35 The Components box will be the next to appear. in this simulation they will be Methanol and Water. This allows us to enter all of the components that will be present within our system.

Radfrac © SDSM&T 8/35 AspenPlus will now search its database and attempt to match a chemical name with the Component ID that was entered. If this happens the other three boxes (Type. Hit the “Next” button to proceed. Component Name. . We now have entered all the components necessary for this simulation. and Formula) will fill automatically and other components can then be entered. Enter “Water” in the second row under “Component ID” and hit Enter to fill the other three boxes.

Click “Next.” . If you are happy with this numbers (and we sure hope you are) click “Next. This allows us to choose the base method that we want to use for the calculations AspenPlus will perform.” The next screen to appear will show the interaction parameters for the components in our system using the base method we selected. We will select NRTL for this simulation.Radfrac © SDSM&T 9/35 The next screen to appear is the Property Specifications sheet.

Since everything is good to go. The first screen that will appear will be for the Feed stream. Before we actually start entering data let’s go over a couple of the different available options.” Now it’s time to begin entering the physical data for the system.Radfrac © SDSM&T 10/35 A prompt screen will appear asking if we want to enter any more data or change the property specifications. click “OK. .

2 of these 3 must be specified. Pressure. Click on the arrow on the right side of Temperature or Pressure Box to alternate between the choices. The units can be changed for any variable by simply clicking on the arrow on the right side of the unit box. or Vapor Fraction. For this example we will use degrees Celsius for temperature and atmospheres for the pressure. This will bring up a list of different units to choose from. .Radfrac © SDSM&T 11/35 There are 3 “State Variables” that we are allowed to choose from Temperature.

the feed flowrate to the column needs to be set at 100 lbmol/hr. Also set the pressure in the stream equal to 1 atm. Click on the arrow on the right hand side of the box to view all of the different options for defining the composition.Radfrac © SDSM&T 12/35 Change the units of Temperature to Celsius and enter 25. The next required input involves setting the Composition for the feed stream. Choose “MoleFrac. Enter that here. As stated in the problem.” .

Enter 0.” The feed stream is now complete. . designing the actual column. Now is the time we’ll all been waiting for.5 in both boxes and then hit “Next. The first step is to get at least a rough estimate for the required number of stages needed.Radfrac © SDSM&T 13/35 The problem statement calls for a 50/50 split between the two components in the feed.

Click on this arrow and select T-xy as the type of analysis you want performed. Whenever you are ready.Radfrac © SDSM&T 14/35 To do this. At the top of the screen under Tools. and Binary. Property. click on Analysis. we’re going to use AspenPlus to generate a TXY plot and use it to do a quick McCabe-Thile diagram. The pressure must also be equal to the operating pressure of your column so enter 1 atm. click on “Go.” .

This diagram can give us an estimate of how many equilibrium stages are necessary by using the McCabeThiele method.Radfrac © SDSM&T 15/35 AspenPlus should generate this liquid/vapor equilibrium plot for Methanol and Water at 1 atm. Unfortunately. Notice that there are no azeotropes between the two so perfect separation is theoretically possible. . The X-axis is the molefrac of Methanol. so the extreme left and extreme right represent pure Water and MeOH respectively. we cannot show you the actual drawing but trust us. After the graph has been made and looked at you can close all three windows that are for the graph. it takes about 7 equilibrium stages.

Click on the arrow on the right hand side of the Condenser box to display the condenser candidates. We will optimize this number a little bit further down the road.Radfrac © SDSM&T 16/35 Enter 10 for the Number of Stages because our column will not be operating at 100% efficiency. As mentioned earlier this column will have a Total condenser. .

25 .5 and press “Next” to continue. we’re going to choose to set the Reflux Ratio and Distillate rate since methanol is the component we are worried about recovering and it has a lower boiling point than water.1. For this example.8 for most applications. The normal range of Reflux Ratios is from 1. Because there are no azeotropes. . 50 lbmol/hr.Radfrac © SDSM&T 17/35 Click on the arrow on the right hand side of one of the operating specification boxes to display all of the alternatives. Enter 1. the Distillate Flowrate of methanol can be set to the same number of moles as the entering flowrate.

. For this simulation we will address the pressure drop in the column a little later on in our program.Radfrac © SDSM&T 18/35 The next screen asks to specify the Feed Stage. If you’re not certain of the location a safe bet is usually somewhere in the middle. This is another area that will be optimized later.” We are now required to enter the Pressure at which the column will operate. Change the units to atmospheres by clicking the arrow on the right hand side of the units box. If data is already available for Pressure Drop in the column. it can be entered. For now. we’ll enter 5 and press “Next. and type a 1 in the box on the left.

Radfrac © SDSM&T 19/35 Instead of clicking on “Next”. click on the Efficiencies folder. Normal efficiencies range from 50-80% and there are shortcut methods found in literature to determine efficiency of a column. Our column isn’t perfect but what really ever is. . which would bring up a prompt to run the simulation. Click on the Vapor-Liquid tab to continue. so click on the circle to the left to highlight it. We want Murphree-type efficiency.

Click “New” to continue. . The next step is for us to set the type of trays that our column will consist of.7 for the efficiency.Radfrac © SDSM&T 20/35 Next we’re going to set the efficiency for one stage of the column. Click on the Tray Sizing folder on the left to get to this screen. Enter 5 for the stage and 0. AspenPlus will then be able to calculate the other stage’s efficiencies from our given benchmark.

This screen allows us to choose from a list of possible types of trays within our column. Enter a 2 in the starting stage and a 9 in the ending stage because there are 10 stages in our column as both the condenser and reboiler count as stages. Click “OK” to continue.Radfrac © SDSM&T 21/35 A box will appear prompting you for a section number. .

. Another prompt will appear to choose a section number. we are going to choose Bubble-Cap trays. An estimate for the Diameter of the trays is now required. click “OK”. Click “new” to continue.5 ft. Click on the Tray Rating folder on the left. We’ll leave the number of passes and tray spacing as they are. Enter 1. Enter 2 and 9 again respectively for the starting and ending stages along with Bubble cap for the Tray Type.Radfrac © SDSM&T 22/35 For this simulation. Click on the box to the right of Tray Type to see the list of available trays.

Double-click on the Setup folder.5% is the goal. Click on the box to the left of Mole in the Fraction Basis Column. then click on Report Options and finally click on the Stream tab. Just one final detail and we’ll be ready to run our simulation. 99.” .Radfrac © SDSM&T 23/35 Click on the Design/Pdrop tab to continue. Click “Next. Click on the box directly to the left of Update section pressure profile to have AspenPlus calculate the pressure drop in the column. AspenPlus will now report the Mole fraction of each stream.

We’re ready to run our simulation. Click on the blue folder with the check mark to view the results. The calculations should complete normally. Click “OK. .” The control panel will appear display the iterations as AspenPlus finds solutions for our simulation.Radfrac © SDSM&T 24/35 Here’s the moment we’ve been waiting for.

Use the arrows on the left and bottom of the stream report to look through all of the results. Next.2% purity in both product streams. Not quite up to the spec of 99. We achieved 94.5%. let’s find out what we can optimize to meet our goal.Radfrac © SDSM&T 25/35 Click on Streams to view the results for each of the three streams. Double-click on the blue Blocks folder and then also on Dist. . go to the top menu bar and click on Plot and then Plot Wizard. Plot Wizard takes the profiles AspenPlus generated for the column and turns them into pretty little charts.

Click “Finish” to view the plot. .Radfrac © SDSM&T 26/35 A welcoming screen will appear. The first plot we want to look at is the liquid composition inside the column. Nothing on the next set of options needs to be changed. Click on Composition and hit “Next”. Next click the circle next to Liquid under “Select Phase.” Clicking on “Next” again brings up different plot options. Click on the double arrows pointing to the right to select both components to be in the plot. click “next” to move onto this screen.

First off. This means that we could possibly increase our separation by changing the location of the feed tray. change the number of stages from 10 to 13 while leaving the feed stream on stage 5 for the time being. there are no level spots in the diagram so we don’t have any extra stages. Close all the results folders and click on the Blocks and Dist folders respectively to return to the column Setup screen. Also.Radfrac © SDSM&T 27/35 This plot can tell us a couple of different things. our feed stage. . Under Configuration. notice the little dip in the middle on stage 5. These are two areas where we could optimize our column. Let’s start to optimize by changing the number of stages in our column.

Radfrac © SDSM&T 28/35 We also need to change the number of stages with respect to our Tray Sizing and Tray Rating. Go into the 1 below each folder respectively and change the ending stage to 12. Click “OK” to continue. so click “Next” to run the simulation again. Let’s take a look at the Liquid Composition diagram… .9% purity in each of the product streams. The results show that we now have 94. Moving in the right direction but still not up to the desired specs. Upon completion click on the blue folder again and go under Results Summary and then Streams. We’re all set up.

Close the Results folder and let’s go adjust our feed stage. We want the composition to be smooth lines without any humps or bumps in the middle. Choose to plot Both Components in the Liquid phase and hit “Finish. .” From this plot it is obvious that our feed stage is a little bit too low. Hit “Next” through the welcoming screen and click on the Composition plot. Go to Plot at the top of the screen and click on Plot Wizard.Radfrac © SDSM&T 29/35 Double-click on the blue Blocks folder and then on the blue Dist folder to look at the results for the column.

Radfrac © SDSM&T 30/35 Back under the Blocks/Dist folders. Next check your stream results to see if we have achieved the desired purity in our Methanol Stream. Change your feed plate from 5 to 6 and click next. Is the hump gone from the middle? If not continue this procedure until the curves are smooth. click on Setup and then the Streams tab at the top of the screen. Once again check your Liquid Composition diagram using Plot Wizard as done in previous steps. . (Hint: 9 might be the answer) After you’ve determined the optimum feed plate location (HINT: 9) your plot should look like this.

But we did increase the purity by 3% to 97. Click on the Configuration tab at the top and increase the number of stages in the column. Also. go under the Tray Sizing and Tray Rating folders and change the ending stage on each to one stage less than the actual number of stages that you entered here.5% by optimizing the location of the feed plate.5 in the problem statement. Since the reflux ratio is given at 1.Radfrac © SDSM&T 31/35 Unfortunately we still haven’t reached the desired purity in our product streams. the only other option is to continue to increase the number of stages in our column. . Return to the Setup screen under the Blocks/Dist folder.

then check the liquid composition diagram to be sure that it is in the optimum position. check the results. 99. If it is. Continue this procedure until you meet the given purity spec. There’s the magic number. let’s look at a couple of the other options that are available. . Now that we have our column set up.Radfrac © SDSM&T 32/35 Next click on the Streams tab and change the location of the feed plate. Click on “Next” to run the simulation.5%! The final configuration of the column has 21 bubble-cap trays with the feed plate on stage 16.

. There are a couple of different ways that we can look at the pressure drop within the column. Since this is the only section. The first is by clicking on the Tray Rating folder and opening 1. and 1. This screen shows a calculated diameter of around 2 feet for our column. Next. click on Blocks. Dist. the pressure drop for our column is about 4. On the Results page. Click on the Results tab at the top and use the arrows on the right to move down until the Section Pressure Drop is shown. click on the Results tab at the top of the screen. Tray Sizing.Radfrac © SDSM&T 33/35 AspenPlus has also calculated the Diameter of the column.5 psi. By clicking on the “psi” box you can also change the pressure units.

Congratulations! You have finished the race and you’re probably not even half as tired as this guy. Now you can enter components. Bj .Radfrac © SDSM&T 34/35 The other way we can observe the pressure drop is by using Plot Wizard to create a graph.” A graph similar to this one should be created showing the pressure profile in the column. The temperature profile can also be created in a similar manner. Feel free to brag to all of your friends now about your superior knowledge of Radfrac. Go to Plot Wizard and click on the Pressure graph. you’ve earned it. feed streams. Peace and Love. column data and generate results for all of your own simulations. Choose the desired units and click “Finish. You are truly a champion. he looks beat.

Radfrac © SDSM&T 35/35 .

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