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Gibbs Phase Rule in a Distillation Column with Aspen HYSYS V8.0
1. Lesson Objectives
Use Aspen HYSYS to observe one-to-one relation between stage temperatures and compositions in a
distillation column for a binary system with fixed pressure.
2. Prerequisites
Aspen HYSYS V8.0
3. Background
According to the Gibbs phase rule, the degrees of freedom () is equal to the number of components (C) minus
number of phases (, plus 2.

For a binary mixture involving vapor-liquid equilibrium, there are no degrees of freedom left once temperature
and pressure are fixed. All state variables are fixed, including vapor and liquid compositions. This is useful for
distillation column control. In distillation column simulations, the product compositions are typically the most
important results. Therefore, compositions are typically measured and controlled. However, measuring
compositions is a slower, more costly process than measuring temperatures. When pressure is fixed,
temperature and composition have a one-to-one correspondence (except for cases with azeotropes).
Therefore, measuring and controlling top/bottom stage temperatures is the same as measuring and controlling
top/bottom stage composition.
In this example, we will carry out several case studies to show that compositions for top and bottom stages are
constant when top and bottom stage temperatures are fixed regardless of changes in other operating conditions
and column configurations.
The examples presented are solely intended to illustrate specific concepts and principles. They may not
reflect an industrial application or real situation.

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4. Problem Statement and Aspen HYSYS Solution
Problem Statement
For a distillation column consisting of a binary mixture of ethane and ethylene, when the pressure and
temperature for an equilibrium stage have been fixed, will the vapor and liquid compositions leaving this stage
change with other conditions of the column?
Aspen HYSYS Solution
4.01. Create a new case in Aspen HYSYS V8.0.
4.02. Create a component list. In the Component Lists folder select Add. Add Ethane and Ethylene to the
component list. Ethylene can be found by entering ethene in the Search for field.

4.03. Define property package. In the Fluid Packages folder select Add. Select Peng-Robinson as the
property package.

4.04. Go to the simulation environment by clicking the Simulation button in the bottom left of the screen.

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4.05. Add a Distillation Column Sub-Flowsheet to the flowsheet from the Model Palette.

4.06. Double click on the distillation column (T-100). The Distillation Column Input Expert window will open.
On the first page of the expert enter the following information. Click Next when complete.

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4.07. On the second page of the input expert leave the default selections for a Once through, Regular HYSYS
reboiler and click Next.
4.08. On the third page of the input expert enter Condenser and Reboiler Pressures of 100 kPa. Click Next.

4.09. On the fourth page of the input expert leave all fields for temperature estimates blank and click Next.
Also leave all fields blank on the fifth page and click Done to configure the column.
4.10. We will first define the feed stream. Double click on the Feed stream. Enter a Vapour Fraction of 0.5, a
Pressure of 100 kPa, and Molar Flow of 100 kgmole/h.

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4.11. In the Composition form enter Mole Fractions of 0.5 for both Ethylene and Ethane. The stream should
solve.

4.12. Double click the column (T-100) to complete the specifications for the column. Go to the Specs form
under the Design tab. We would like to specify the temperatures of the top and bottom stages. Click
the Add button and select a Column Temperature specification type. Select Stage 1 and enter a Spec
Value of -104.193C. This temperature corresponds to a mole fraction of 0.99 ethylene in the distillate.

4.13. Add a second Temperature specification and select Stage 50 and enter a Spec Value of -88.971C. This
temperature corresponds to a mole fraction of 0.99 ethane in the bottoms.
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4.14. In the Specs Summary form, make sure that the only active specifications are the two temperature
specs that were just created. After both temperature specs are made active the column should solve.

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4.15. Check product composition results. In the column property window, go to the Performance tab. In the
Summary form you can see that the mole fraction of ethylene in the distillate is 0.9934 and the mole
fraction of ethane in the bottoms is 1.



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4.16. To view the Reflux and Boilup Ratios go to the Column Profiles form under the Performance tab.


4.17. We will now change the feed location to the column while holding the top and bottom stage
temperature specifications constant. The product compositions should not change because we are
holding temperature and pressure constant. Go to the Design tab in the column window and change
the Feed stream Inlet Stage to 29. Click Run to begin calculations. The column should converge.

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4.18. Go to the Performance tab to view results. Note that the product compositions have not changed. You
will notice however that the Reflux and Boilup Ratios have changed.



4.19. We will now change the composition of the feed stream. Double click the Feed stream and go to the
Composition form under the Worksheet tab. Change the Mole Fractions to 0.6 for Ethylene and 0.4 for
Ethane. When finished the column should automatically update and converge. Again, the product
compositions should not change because we are still holding the temperature and pressure of the top
and bottom stage constant.


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4.20. Go to the Performance tab in the column window to view the composition results.


4.21. Lastly, we will add 10 stages to the column and observe the effect on product purity. Go to the Design
tab of the column window and enter 60 for Num of Stages. Press Run when complete. The column
should converge.

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4.22. Go to the Performance tab to view results. Once again you will see that the product compositions
remain unchanged.

5. Conclusions
This example shows that for a binary distillation column, fixing top/bottom stage temperatures holds
top/bottom compositions constant regardless of changes to other things (e.g., feed conditions and locations or
the number of stages in the column). This behavi or can be leveraged for control. For binary mixtures with
azeotrope(s), this still holds true assuming that a composite feed stays within a certain region divided by
azeotropes.
6. Copyright
Copyright 2012 by Aspen Technology, Inc. (AspenTech). All rights reserved. This work may not be
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