Department of Chemical Engineering

Unit Operations Laboratory

Batch Distillation Theory
This handout provides important information on filtration theory and related issues:
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Batch Distillation Theory
Determination of Composition by Gas Chromatography
Computer Simulation
Degrees of Freedom/Sensitivity
Material and Energy Balances
Properties
Statistical Analysis
Important Remarks

Batch Distillation Theory
The theory is well developed for the prediction of distillation column operations. This section
provides an overview of some of the equations and theory associated with batch distillation. For
additional theory development, see Resources.
In batch mode, with no feed, vapor from the reboiler rises up the trays in the column and is
finally liquefied in the condenser. This condensed liquid is either drawn off or reintroduced into
the top of the column. Each tray of the column is assumed to be in vapor-liquid equilibrium.
Geankoplis (1993) (see Resources) provides excellent diagrams illustrating the flows within a
distillation column and the equilibrium on each tray.
Several approaches can be taken:


Graphical Methods (McCabe-Thiele method and Ponchon-Savart method)
Shortcut Methods (e.g. Fenske-Underwood-Gilliland method)
Rigorous plate-to-plate calculations (using computer software)

The graphical and shortcut methods are specifically for steady state operations. While they do
not apply directly to the unsteady operation of batch distillation (except for the special case of
total reflux), they can be useful in initially characterizing a column. For total reflux calculations,
the Fenske equation (part of the FUG Shortcut Method) can be used to determine the number of
plates required for a given separation. The rigorous plate-to-plate calculations can easily be
performed with available computer aided engineering flowsheet simulation programs or special
purpose distillation programs.

Modified: 4/19/2007

Kevin M. Sapp

Original Document:

Jullie Lawson

page 1/4
© 2007

o Ideally.ufl. compositions. you would like to determine the following as a function of time: • distillate product composition • bottoms product composition • stage by stage composition profile • stage by stage flow profile • heat transfer rate to the condenser • heat transfer rate to the reboiler o And determine the • effect of Murphree efficiency on the above • time to reach a specific distillate concentration Modified: 4/19/2007 Kevin M.1 micro-liter samples o At the beginning of each lab period. inject ethanol. Sapp Original Document: Jullie Lawson page 2/4 © 2007 . Dynamic Simulation o Several computer programs are available to perform the dynamic calculations. isopropanol.html. o The HYSYS Plant flowsheet simulation package can be run in dynamic mode for this purpose. etc.Department of Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory Determination of Composition by Gas Chromatography o You will be injecting 0. pressures. develop a theoretical basis for predicting dynamic behavior of the distillation column for your experimental conditions and steady-state temperatures. and return the tray-by-tray characteristics as a function of time.edu/unit_op_lab_examples/index. o Use the relative peak areas of the components in your sample to determine the mole fractions of components in the sample. flows. o Use the retention time for the standard peaks to identify peaks from your samples.che. Computer Simulation Using your knowledge and resources on Batch Distillation Theory. Note the retention time for each of these peaks. for operation under total reflux conditions. and methanol standards. A tutorial is available online at http://hysys. Use these results to plan your experimental runs then compare your actual results with those predicted. HYSYS is an excellent programming resource for computer simulation of distillation columns.

Modified: 4/19/2007 Kevin M. If the values of the calculated distillate and bottoms concentrations equal to the values found experimentally. o Ideally. then the guessed efficiencies are assumed to be correct. o The HYSYS Plant flowsheet simulation package run in steady-state mode is recommended for this. This is repeated until the predicted product compositions are the same as those determined experimentally. Otherwise. bottoms) Reflux ratio Steam flow rate Condenser water flow rate Consider effects of changes of these variables on key distillation performance indicators. another estimate of the efficiencies is made and the program should be executed again. Sapp Original Document: Jullie Lawson page 3/4 © 2007 . and return the tray-by-tray characteristics as a function of time. Next.g. Degrees of Freedom/Sensitivity The main independent variables available for study in the experiments include: • • • • Flow rates (feed. you would like to determine steady-state values for: • distillate product composition • bottoms product composition • stage by stage composition profile • stage by stage flow profile • heat transfer rate to the condenser • heat transfer rate to the reboiler o And determine the: • effect of Murphree efficiency on the above Tray Efficiency Evaluation Determining the efficiency of the trays in the column is an iterative trial and error procedure. the user guesses the tray efficiencies and the computer performs a tray-by-tray calculation to determine the concentration of the distillate and bottoms products. distillate. First the programs or simulation packages (e.Department of Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory Steady State Simulation (Total Reflux Only) o Several computer programs are available to perform the dynamic calculations. and not all of these variables will affect performance in a measurable way. in HYSYS Plant simulation) must be setup to simulate the operation of the column. Note that there are limits to the control of these variables with the equipment available.

Statistical Analysis Apply appropriate statistical procedures to determine the apparent error in results. as well as the ternary system of methanol. Resolve any data discrepancies and obtain closure on the material and energy balances. Material and Safety Data Sheets for these major components. measure variables several times and different ways to verify values. which are present in small amounts. ethanol. Important Remarks Whenever possible. Also perform energy balances over the column. around the reboiler. Properties Properties for ethanol and isopropanol are well known.Department of Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory Material and Energy Balances Use the experimentally determined compositions and flow rates to determine material balances. Modified: 4/19/2007 Kevin M. HYSYS DISTIL can be used to create vapor-liquid equilibrium curves for the binary system of ethanol and isopropanol. determining duties and heat transfer coefficients as needed. and ethyl acetate. and around the condenser. methyl isobutyl ketone. Preparation of XY phase diagrams and HXY diagrams for the experimental conditions is strongly recommended. Sapp Original Document: Jullie Lawson page 4/4 © 2007 . Note the importance of selecting an appropriate property estimation model. as well as methanol. are available for download on the Batch Distillation Safety webpage. and isopropanol.