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The Distillation Group, Inc.

Technology in Distillation

Distillation Operations Manual


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The Distillation Group, Inc.


P.O. Box 10105
College Station, TX 77842-0105
USA
[1]-(979)-764-3975
[1]-(979)-764-1449 fax
info@distillationgroup.com
www.distillationgroup.com

P.O. Box 10105, College Station, TX 77842-0105 USA


info@distillationgroup.com

Phone 979-764-3975
Fax 979-764-1449

The Distillation Group, Inc.

Technology in Distillation

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The original document was Energy Conservation Seminars for Industry: Texas
Energy Conservation Program: Distillation Column Operations by J. E Sirrine Company.
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Energy Conservation Seminars


For Industry

presented by
The Energy Utilization Department
of the
Texas Industrial Commission
410 East Fifth Street
Austin, Texas
(512) 472-5059
Gerald R. Brown, Executive Director
Lance E. dePlante, Manager
Energy Utilization Department

The information presented herein is


intended to enhance knowledge of
industrial energy conservation and
to provide the necessary tools to
implement an energy conservation
program in an industrial plant.
References to specific products or
ideas should not be considered
endorsements of said products or
ideas by the Texas Industrial
Commission.
This workbook and other projects of
the Industrial Energy Utilization
Department are funded through a
U.S. Department of Energy grant
administered by the Governors
Office of Energy Resources.

TEXAS ENERGY CONSERVATION PROGRAM


DISTILLATION COLUMN OPERATIONS

Prepared By
J. E. SIRRINE COMPANY Houston, Texas
For
TEXAS INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION

FUNDED BY GRANT FROM THE GOVERNOR'S


OFFICE OF ENERGY RESOURCES
THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

1978

DISCLAIMER
These materials were prepared as a result of work
sponsored by the Governors Office of Energy
Resources through funds provided by the Department
Energy. Neither the Texas Industrial Commission,
nor the sponsoring agencies, nor any of their
employees, nor any of their contractors, subcontractors, or their employees, makes any warranty,
expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability
for the successfulness of the implementation of energy
conservation techniques described. References to
specific ideas, products, and services should not be
construed as endorsements. It is hoped that the information provided through these materials will be useful
in your efforts to explore opportunities available for
energy conservation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ENERGY CONSERVATION MANUAL
DISTILLATION COLUMN OPERATIONS
PAGE

TITLE
DISCLAIMER
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
SECTION

1 - INTRODUCTION

1 - 1

SECTION

2 DESIGN REVIEW, AUDIT OF ENERGY AND MATERIAL BALANCE

2 1

SECTION

A. REVIEW OF PLANT DESIGN

2 1

B. AUDIT OF ACTUAL PLANT OPERATION

2 1

C. DATA COLLECTION DURING PLANT OPERATION

2 - 3

3 ENERGY SAVING IMPROVEMENTS WITH MINIMAL CAPITAL INVESTMENTS

3 1

A. OPERATING PROCEDURE REVISIONS

3 1

(1) Reducing the Reflux Ratio of Columns

3 1

(2) Lowering Product Specifications

3 3

(3) Lowering Pumping Costs

3 4

(4) Lowering Steam Usage

3 9

(5) Process Heaters

3 11

B. SCHEDULING SHUTDOWNS TO MAXIMIZE ENERGY RECOVERY


AND PROFITS

3 13

PAGE
SECTION

4 - ENERGY SAVING IMPROVEMENTS WITH CAPITAL INVESTMENTS

4 - 1

A. OPTIMIZATION OF HEAT RECOVERY - HEAT EXCHANGERS

4 - 1

B. COLUMN REVISIONS

4 - 5

(l) Additional or More Efficient Trays

4 - 5

(2) Additional Column Draw

4 - 7

C. OPTIMIZATION OF RECOVERY AND USE OF ENERGY

4 - 7

(1) Introduction

4 - 7

(2) Column Heat Utilization

4 - 9

2.1 Bottoms Product

4 -10

2.2 Distillate Product

4 -11

2.3 Condenser Duty

4 -11

2.4 Reboiler Duty

4 -11

2.5 Feed Preheating

4 -12

(3) Changing the Column's Temperature

4 -12

(4) Two-Stage Condensation

4 -12

(5) Waste Heat Boilers

4 -13

(6) Multiple Effect Heat Cascading For


Distillation Columns

(7) Split Tower

4 -13

4 -15

(8) Interreboilers, Intercondensers, and


Feed Preheating

4 -19

(9) Feed Preheating

4 -21

(10) InterreboiLER

4 21

(11) Intercoolers and Feed Precoolers

4 21

(12) Circulating Refluxes

4 22

PAGE
D. USE OF VAPOR RECOMPRESSION AND HEAT PUMPS FOR
DISTILLATION

4 -24

(1) Introduction

4 24

(2) Distillation Column's Reflux and Heat Balance

4 25

(3) Vapor Recompression

4 26

(4) Heat Pump

4 27

(5) Theory Behind Vapor-Recompression and Heat Pumps 4 28


5.1 The Carnot Cycle

4 28

5.2 The Refrigeration Cycle

4 33

(6) Vapor Recompression

4 37

6.1 Situations

4 37

6.2 Auxiliary Heat Transfer Equipment

4 38

6.3 Compressor Drives and Their Energy Costs

4 40

6.4 Insulation of Columns Using Vapor Recompression or Heat Pumps

4 41

6.5 Vapor Recompression for Interreboilers,


Other Columns

4 41

(7) Reasons For Conversion of an Existing Column

4 42

(8) Conversion of an Existing Column

4 43

(9) Advantages of Vapor Recompression

4 44

(10) Disadvantages of Vapor Recompression

4 46

(11) Advantages and Disadvantages of the Heat Pump

4 49

(12) Guidelines for Considering Vapor Recompression

4 50

(13) Procedure for Vapor Recompression Evaluation

4 51

(14) Example, Propane-Propylene Splitter

4 54

14.1 Situation Statement

4 54

14.2 Solution

4 -55

PAGE
(15) Work Problem Propane-Propylene Splitter With
Bottoms Vapor Recompression

SECTION

SECTION

4 60

E. IMPROVING CONTROL OF DISTILLATION COLUMNS

4 61

F. REDUCING HEAT LOSSES USING INSULATION

4 64

5 ECONOMICS

5 - 1

A. DEFINITION OF ECONOMIC TERMS

5 2

(1) Profit

5 2

(2) Net Back

5 2

(3) Depreciation

5 3

(4) Investment Tax Credit

5 5

(5) Fixed Costs

5 5

(6) Variable Costs

5 6

(7) Cash Flow

5 6

(8) Discounted Cash Flow

5 6

(9) Return on Investment (R.O.I.)

5 7

B. CONCEPT OF INVESTMENT EQUIVALENCE TO SAVE ENERGY

5 8

C. ECONOMIC INTERPRETATIONS FOR ENERGY SAVINGS

5 9

D. STEAM ECONOMICS

5 11

E. COOLING WATER

5 13

F. COMPRESSED AIR

5 14

G. VACUUM PUMPS AND STEAM EJECTORS

5 14

H. EXCHANGERS USED FOR HEAT RECOVERY

5 15

I. CONCLUSION

5 15

6 BIBLIOGRAPHY WITH ABSTRACTS

6 1

PAGE
SECTION

7 APPENDICES

7 1

A. ENERGY SAVINGS CHECLKIST GENERAL

7 1

B. PROCESS ENERGY CHECKLIST

7 6

C. REFERENCES TECHNICAL ARTICLES

7 10

D. SOLUTION TO WORK PROBLEM 4-F-15

7 14

ABSTRACT

Distillation operations have been branded as high energy users. An estimate


3% of the total energy used in the United States in 1976 was for distillation.
Energy conservation is indicated. This manual is addressed to the small or medium
sized chemical or refining company. It is structured to guide these people on how
to analyze and reduce energy requirements. The criteria of no reduction or
increased profitability of the process are stressed in analyzing any energy saving
proposals.
Information for writing the sections came from technical articles, design and
operating experience, and seminars on energy conservation.
This manual is divided into seven sections. The contents of the sections are
discussed in the following paragraphs.
Before any energy conservation steps can be logically taken, a knowledge of
energy usage of the existing facility must be known. Section 2 of this manual
describes a procedure for reviewing the original plant design, auditing the energy
usage as presently operated, and collecting plant data if required for the audit.
After the distillation process is analyzed for energy usage, the first step
is to study energy saving improvements needing minimal capital investments and
quickly implementable. Section 3 covers this, giving ideas on changing the
operating procedure and scheduling shutdowns to maximize profits and minimize
energy usage.
Capital investments to save energy are generally longer term projects. These
projects include the optimization of heat recovery and revisions of

the column. Capital intensive and complex systems using vapor recompression or heat
pumps are possible energy savers. These are covered in Section 4 along with heat
losses and column control.
For distillation processes, the energy used per pound of product is a simple
ratio for evaluating the performance of the program to reduce energy usage.
Similarly, an economic guideline is helpful in requesting management to make
decisions concerning capital investments. In Section 5, the concept of investment
equivalence to save a unit of energy is developed for use as an economic guideline.
The economic interpretations of several energy savings proposals are discussed.
Potential conflicts in placing a cost value on various steam pressures by
accountants compared to its value from a thermodynamic or energy level viewpoint
are discussed.
The appendices include reprints of technical articles pertinent to
distillation columns, a general energy savings checklist, a process energy
checklist, and the results of a sample work problem on vapor recommendation.

LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
NO.

TITLE

PAGE

2 1

Electric Motor Study

2 5

4 1

Process Data for Column Shown in Figure 4-13

4 65

4 2

Process Results for Column in Figure 4-14

4 66

4 3

Process Data for Column in Figure 4-15

4 67

4 4

Process Data for Splitter in Figure 4-16

4 68

4 5

Nomenclature of Symbols Used in Section 4

4 69

7 1

Results for Splitter in Figure 2-1

7 16

LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE NO.
NO.

TITLE

PAGE

2 1

Feed Fractionator with Preheat

2 6

2 2

Depropanizer Unit

2 7

3 1

Centrifugal Pump Characteristics and System Curve

3 17

3 2

Expansion of Pumping System

3 18

4 1

Heat Availability and Requirements For Crude Tower

4 72

4 2

Heat Cascading Distillation Train

4 73

4 3

Split Tower Arrangement

4 74

4 4

McCabe - Thiele Diagram for System with Intermediate Condenser and Reboiler

4 75

4 5

Recirculating Reflux or Pumparound Tower

4 76

4 6

Example of Conventional Distillation Column, No


Side Draw

4 77

4 7

Vapor Recompression Examples

4 78

4 8

Example of Heat Pump System

4 79

4 9

The Refrigeration and Carnot Cycles

4 80

4 10

Column Using Vapor Recompression

4 81

4 11

Hot Columns with Vapor Recompression

4 82

4 12

Refrigerated Columns with Vapor Recompression

4 83

4 13

Propane Propylene Splitter

4 84

4 14

Results of Example of Propane Propylene Splitter

4 85

4 15

Splitter with Bottoms Vapor Compression

4 86

4 16

Splitter of Figure 4 - 15 with Data

4 87

PAGE
4 17

Vapor Pressure of Olefin Hydrocarbons

4 88

4 18

Vapor Pressure of Normal Paraffin Hydrocarbons

4 89

4 19

Enthalpy Temperature Diagram for Propylene

4 90

4 20

Enthalpy Temperature Diagram for Propane

4 91

4 21

Control of Column Reflux to Maximize Profit and


Energy Conservation

5 1

4 92

Revenue and Expense Variation with Production


Ideal Case

5 17

5 2

Variation of Profit with Production

5 17

5 3

Revenue and Expense Variation With Production

7 1

Real Economic Case

5 18

Work Problem

7 17

SECTION 1
INTRODUCTION
Many words and phrases may have more than one meaning. In energy discussions,
the expression energy conservation is presently spoken with two meanings. The
original meaning is related to the first law of thermodynamics, which states that
energy is always conserved, never destroyed, but changes from one form and level to
another. Now that the United States is no longer endowed with new sources of low
cost energy fuels, energy conservation has taken on the meaning of reducing the
amount of energy used either increasing the efficiency of performing a certain
task, or using a substitute requiring less energy. Examples of conservation are the
use of higher efficiency air conditioning units, lighter weight automobiles, and
handwashing dishes.
In the chemical industry, the meaning of energy conservation includes
conserving the temperature level of the energy and in consequent the availability
of the energy to produce work. Since distillation processes require large amounts
of work and heat energy to perform the required separations, these processes are
prime areas for better energy utilization.
Many Americans are skeptical about the United States being in an energy
crisis. They say that energy is plentiful, but have they considered the cost to
produce it? Russell E. Train, formerly administrator of the EPA, made the following
comment in an address upon receiving the $150,000 Tyler Ecology Award:
...the artificially low prices for more conventional energy maintained
by subsidy and regulation. In 1976 the average weighted price of the
industrial use of energy per million Btu was $2.55,

1 - 1

whereas the average replacement cost---the cost of finding and producing new
energy resources---was $3.74. Thus, the replacement cost of natural gas is
now more than 70% above the average price, that of oil about 45% above, and
that of electricity nearly 40% above. Only in the case of coal did
replacement cost approximate actual price. Since our political processes have
so far proven unequal to the task of achieving more economically realistic
prices for energy, whether by taxes, pricing policy, or by deregulation, or
any combination of these, ...

If his costs are realistic, then the United States is living on previously
developed resources. When they are depleted, the cost of energy will soar.
If the decision is made by management to reduce the energy requirements
of the processes, it implies that long term profits or return on the companys
investment must not decrease. This economic viewpoint is a prerequisite to the
writing of any energy conservation manual.
This manual is divided into seven sections, it is assumed that the reader has
sufficient technical knowledge to understand the principles of heat transfer,
separation operations, and thermodynamics. After information is presented on how to
conduct an energy audit of the distillation process, energy saving ideas that
require minimal capital investments are given. Similarly, ideas for long term
capital investments are discussed. Finally, economics and the concept of investment
equivalence to save a unit of energy are detailed.
The appendices include copies of technical articles pertinent to distillation
processes. It also lists ideas on energy savings in general and specific to
distillation operations. It is the purpose of this manual to aid the chemical
company in reducing the energy requirements of the distillation units without a
reduction in profitability of the process.

1 2

SECTION 2

DESIGN REVIEW AND AUDIT OF ENERGY AND MATERIAL BALANCE

Before proceeding with a detailed energy analysis on your distillation unit


as presently operated, you should find out the energy consumption of the same type
of separation by the industry. Your sources of information are: (1) similar
distillation columns within the company, (2) contact with the original engineering
design company, (3) contact with technical people from your professional groups or
college or professional friends, and (4) the technical literature. For example,
Mix, Dweck, and Weinberg estimated and reported specific consumptions in Btu/lb of
product for various product
separations in the CEP April, 1978 issue (see Appendix 7-C). They believe that a
large percentage of the columns in operation can be retrofitted for energy
conservation with attractive economic benefits.
2-A. REVIEW OF PLANT DESIGN
Your plant engineering files should contain all the design information for
the process. If it is not available, this information should be requested from the
original design company. In particular, process flow sheets, design calculations,
piping and instrumentation drawings, specifications of the equipment purchased,
performance characteristics of the equipment, utility usage tabulations, and
revisions since the original installation are very valuable for the analysis.
Examples of process flow sheets are found in Figures 2-1 and 2-2.
Design values for fuel, steam, and electrical usage should be found on the
utility summary forms. Calculated values for specific operating conditions

2- 1

should be in the process calculations. Values for fuel and steam usage should be
indicated on the process flow sheet. For example, if the design values showed
30,000 lbs per hr. of 75 psig saturated steam to produce 6000 lbs per hr of
product, the ratio of the pounds of 75 psig saturated steam to pounds of product is
5. If the condensate is not recovered, the energy usage is (1185 - 48)5 or 5685 Btu
per lb. If a competitor operated with the same ratio of steam to product, but
recovered the condensate at 200 F, his energy usage is (1185 - 188)5 = 4985 Btu
per lb. This is an energy saving of 12%.
Specifications of purchased equipment and their performance are valuable for
any plant study. They must be used with caution because revisions may have been
made since the original installation. If the changes were not documented (not
uncommon in small plants) or simply given verbally to the present unit supervisor,
you may not know that revisions occurred.
2-B. AUDIT OF ACTUAL PLANT OPERATION
After the background information is compiled and the energy information
extracted, the present energy usage of the unit should be determined. Plant
accounting records should be checked for present and past usage of steam, fuel,
electricity, etc. This information may be reported on a monthly basis on value
added sheets or production cost sheets. All values reported by accounting should
be considered questionable until they can be verified for accuracy. Instruments may
be broken. Flow meters may measure usage for more than one unit, and the flow split
guesstimated. If the guess was wrong, the estimated values recorded by accounting
are in error and could incorrectly bias your decision on a proposed energy
conservation project.

2- 2

Plant inspections should be made of the measuring instruments. An orifice


meter may have been calibrated for 100 psig line pressure, but the actual gas
pressure found in the plant is 150. The meters conversion factor and reported
usage will be incorrect.
Production rates reported by accounting should be confirmed. Production
figures are based upon meter readings and/or product shipments plus storage tank
content changes. A level indicator on a storage tank may be based upon a 0.800
gravity liquid, but the actual gravity is 0.750. The production figure is not
correct.
A heat and material balance can be made of the existing operation after the
plant instrumentation has been corrected. This information will be compared with
the original design balance and other energy figures found.
2-C. DATA COLLECTION DURING PLANT OPERATION
When developing a heat and material balance for the existing operation, you
may have insufficient information recorded on daily operating and laboratory logs
to compile the balance. Since distillation units are generally well instrumented,
the only expense burdens for a plant data collection test are the manpower to
collect the data and laboratory charges to perform the analyses on the special
samples. Of course, if one flow meter measures steam usage to two different units,
an additional meter must be added to separate the units.
The degree of success of a plant data collection test is influenced by
the preparation and planning stages. Step one is to list the data required for
calculating the heat and material balance. Measuring locations are marked on the
engineering flow diagram. Step two requires a tour of the unit, confirming

2 3

and having calibration checks made of critical measuring instruments. Dial


thermometers, pressure gauges, and dp cells are examples of these instruments.
Table 2-1 is an example of a data collection sheet for electric motors in the unit.
When reading pressure drops across an exchanger, it is preferable to use the same
pressure gauge to read up stream and downstream pressures. A three way selector
valve such as made by D/A Manufacturing Co., Tulia, Texas is a very convenient
option for making two readings with the same pressure gauge. A more expensive
option is to use a pressure differential transmitter.
The accuracy of flow meters can be checked by the use of a prover, if the
necessary piping manifold is in place or installed. Otherwise, the meter design
calculations and test results made by the instrument department should be studied
and checked. If an orifice meter is in use, you can visually confirm that the
upstream side of the orifice plate is inserted in the line correctly and that the
orifice size stamped on the plate agrees with specifications. The condition of the
orifice opening cannot be checked unless it is removed.
After all instruments are checked, you can take one data set of readings,
noting time to make readings, and problems in collecting readings or samples. A
heat and material balance can be calculated and inconsistencies noted. For example,
in making an energy balance across an exchanger, the heat transferred to the colder
stream is found higher than the cold stream. An incorrect temperature reading or
flow rate may be the reason. When this dry run is completed and changes made, the
plant test and evaluation are performed.
A data collection run for the electrical usage is determined by reading
amperage loads on each motor and reading the wattmeter for the unit over the test
period.

Electric

motors

connected

to

instrument

should be included in the energy audit.


2 4

air

and

plant

air

compressors

2 - 5

FIGURE 2-1

2 6

FIGURE 2-2

2 - 7

SECTION 3

ENERGY SAVINGS IMPROVEMENTS WITH MINIMAL CAPITAL INVESTMENTS

Process units built prior to 1973, the year of the drastic rise in energy
costs, were generally designed on a low capital cost investment basis for maximum
rates of return. Energy saving equipment was included in the investment if it
obviously improved the return on investment. No extensive engineering was directed
at energy in the design phase.
In the current period of high energy costs, economics still dictates how much
energy a new plant design can conserve. But the incentive to expend more engineering time in the design phase to optimize the process with maximum energy conservation has increased. Likewise, there is the economic incentive to return to older
operating plants and retrofit them with additional energy saving equipment.
Similarly, years ago, plant operators had been instructed to minimize off
specification production. They achieved this and reduced the amount of scrutiny and
effort needed to operate the unit by producing a purer product than necessary. This
results in an increase in energy usage. This section of the manual will cover
changes in plant operation with minimal capital investments to reduce the energy
required to produce one pound of product.
3-A. OPERATING PROCEDURE REVISIONS
Your operating procedures were probably written before the large increase in
energy cost drew attention to energy conservation as one primary objective. In
addition, the operators are probably using the procedures only as a guide and have
developed their own procedures based upon ease of operation.
3-A-1. Reducing the Reflux Ratio of Columns
The optimization of the reflux ratio of the distillation column can

3 - 1

produce significant energy savings. The investigation can start by checking the
operating manual and column performance specifications for the design conditions,
including the reflux ratio. If the design conditions are no longer valid due to
changes in feed composition or product requirements, it is recommended that a
vigorous distillation calculation be made. If the calculations are very difficult,
you can make use of commercial computer programs made available through various
computing service bureaus (see section 4-B). The design reflux should be compared
with the actual ratios controlled by each shift operator. The daily laboratory
analyses of the column products are compiled and compared with the design
specifications. If the column is operated at a reduced production rate, the design
reflux rate should be calculated for this reduced rate.
It is extremely difficult to change people, even more difficult when it
requires more work effort without visually seeing the results. If one operator was
found who operated the column at a lower reflux ratio than the others, you might
get the confidence of the operators by getting all the operators to maintain this
ratio. If you merely write a note in the unit's operating log leaving instructions,
you will probably not be successful in lowering the reflux ratio. You must work
closely with the superintendent, foremen, and operators instilling confidence as
you show the energy savings resulting from their efforts. If the operating department has monthly meetings for the supervisory people, you can use it as a forum to
present your objectives, how you plan to approach them, and request their support
and assistance. Later you can report progress and discuss problem areas.

3 - 2

Steam or fuel usage per pound of product can be tabulated daily along with
reflux ratio, product purity, etc. and compared with column performance before the
change. The savings in energy can be converted to a monetary value and reported to
the operating people. As an alternate you might represent the energy savings as
barrels of imported oil per year.
As the reflux ratio is reduced, a point will be reached at which the
operators are overworked and having difficulty in maintaining product purity. This
is the opportunity to show your concern to the operators by backing off on the
ratio.
3-A-2. Lowering Product Specifications
Sometimes, product specifications can be lowered. Who decided on the present
product specifications? Are they justifiable? For example, the sales group may have
had the product purity increased to justify selling more product and beating the
competitors. The buyer may require a purity in excess of his real needs. Higher
purity product requires more energy to be consumed per pound of product. Since the
sales department has probably expressed an optimistic opinion as to the value of
higher product specifications in the market place, an economic analysis based upon
their opinions would most likely say to make no specification changes. A better
approach may be to analyze the specification requirements for each type of user of
the chemicals and determine if the higher specification is required. A different
selling

technique

may

retain

the

customer

even

if

product

specifications

are

lowered to save energy.


If the product from the column is feed to another unit in the plant, then the
effect of lowering the purity on the other unit must be determined. Thus, the
energy conservation project requires the additional collection

3 3

and tabulation of operating data. A statistical approach may be required to fully


interpret the results of changes due to the variability of the processes by changes
in other parameters.
3-A-3. Lowering Pumping Costs.
When making an inspection of the unit for an energy audit, you should note
any operation of two centrifugal pumps in parallel. Within the distillation unit,
you can have reflux pumps, product pumps, feed pumps, pumpa-rounds, etc. with
spares. Other examples are cooling water pumps in the water cooling tower and
cooling pond systems.
If the pumping system was designed for one pump and the operator places the
spare pump in service, too, he has not doubled the flow rate. Instead, each pump
provides one half of the developed system flow rate and each operates at the
identical head. To understand this, let us assume a centrifugal pump characteristic
curve as shown in Figure 3-1. At 100 gpm of flow, one pump produces 130 ft of head.
If identical pumps are on stream, the flow is 100 + 100 or 200 gpm at 130 ft of
head. The characteristic curve for two pumps was developed this way and is also
shown in Figure 3-1. The actual flow rate through the piping system is set by the
intersection of the pump curve with the system head curve. Referring to Figure 3-1,
the flow rate is 160 gpm with one pump operating and 172 gpm with two pumps on
stream. In the latter case, each pump is handling one half the flow or 86 gpm.
The efficiency of centrifugal pumps varies with flow rate. Thus, pumps are
selected in the design phase to operate at or near their highest efficiency. As
seen in Figure 3-1, the pumping efficiency decreased from 46.5% at 160 gpm to 34%
at 86 gpm. Assuming an electric motor efficiency

3 - 4

of 95%, the energy used in both cases is determined as follows:

Hp =

(gpm)(TDH)(S)
(3960)(Ep)(E m)

For one pump operating

Hp =

(160)(119)(1.0)
= 10.0
(3960)(0.465)(.95)

For two pumps in parallel

Hp =

(172)(129.5)(1.0)
= 17.4
(3960)(0.34)(.95)

By increasing the flow 7.5%, the energy requirements increased 60%. As an


alternate to two pumps, the size of the impellers could be increased to handle the
172 gpm of flow with one pump. Assuming an efficiency of 47%, the energy required
is:

Hp =

(172)(129.5)(1.0)
= 12.6
(3960)(0.47)(.95)

Thus, 17.4 - 12.6 or 4.8 Hp was conserved. In section 5 of this report, the
concept of investment equivalent for energy savings is developed. This is the
amount of capital that can be invested to save a unit of energy. If new impellers
were placed in the two pumps (one pump is the spare), the impellers would likely be
expensed (if the motors were changed, the new motors would probably be
capitalized). How long would it take to recover the expense of purchase and
installation of the two impellers if the pump operated at 172 gpm with 0.95 on
stream time? Assuming the cost of electricity at 3.0 cents per KWHr and the
replacement expense of $800, the payout is:
(X) (.95)(4.8)(.746)(.030)= $800
where X = hrs
X = 7839 hrs or 0.9 years
3 5

Management should be receptive to this expenditure.


As chemical plants expand by adding more process units, additional cooling
water is probably required. Usually, the existing cooling water lines are not
replaced with larger lines, but additional pumps are added to handle the increased
flow requirements. Suppose a new pump was purchased with an impeller that gives a
higher head to compensate for the higher system pressure drop. The impellers of the
existing pumps are replaced with larger diameter impellers. This is a minimal
capital cost pumping installation, but what about energy usage?
As an example, Figure 3-2 shows the pump characteristics and system curves
for a cooling water pumping system before and after expansion. Flow was increased
from 1500 gpm to 2250 gpm. At the original flowrate, pumps A and B operated at 750
gpm each at 70 ft of head and probably at the best efficiency for these pumps. With
the expansion, flowrate is at 2250 gpm at a head of 108 ft. At 108 ft of head,
pumps A and B handle 1150 gpm or 575 gpm each. The efficiency of the two pumps
probably dropped. Frictional energy increased 38 ft. The following calculations
assume a $0.03 per KWHr of electricity:
Operating cost before change

Hp =

(1500)(70)(1.0)
= 55.8
(3960)(0.50)(.95)

Pumping cost = (55.8)(.746)(0.03)(24) = $29.98/day


Pumping cost per day per gpm = $.020
Operating cost after change

Hp =

(2)(575)(108)(1.0) (1100)(108)(1.0)
+
= 136.5
(3960)(0.45)(.95) (3960)(.50) (.95)

3 - 6

Pumping cost = (136.5)(.746)(.03)(24) = $73.33


Pumping cost per day per gpm = $.033
The pumping cost per gpm has increased 65% in addition to the capital costs, not a
very efficient modification. Before making the pumping change, it may be possible
to reduce frictional energy losses. The existing distribution system should be
traced and pressure drop calculations made for sections of the system that appear
to have high pressure drops. Maybe a short section of pipe could be replaced with a
larger size. Maybe the proposed tie-in point for the cooling water to the new
process could be moved closer with a small increase in piping costs, but a
significant lowering of frictional energy losses.
Another possible way to cut energy usage is to limit cooling water flow
through the exchangers. It is doubtful that the operating procedure covered this
aspect. If flow is not throttled, the flow through an exchanger is determined by
the P available from the pumping system and the frictional energy losses in the
exchanger and piping. For example, an unthrottled flow showed 8 psi across the
exchanger. Design flow was for 800 gpm with a 5 psi
drop across the exchanger. Since flow is approximately proportional to the square

root of the pressure drops, the flow rate is

800

8
or 1000 gpm. An inexpensive
5

type butterfly valve with a manual lock positioner could be installed to throttle
the flow to 800 gpm, saving 200 gpm of cooling water.
If

cooling

water

system

operated

at

6000

gpm

and

50

psig

before

exchanger flows were throttled and 5000 gpm at 55 psig after the throttling,

3 - 7

the

how much energy was saved? Let us assume there is an improvement in efficiency from
0.50 to 0.52.
Horespower before change

Hp =

(6000)(50)(2.31)(1.0)
= 368
(3960)(.50)(.95)

Horespower after change

Hp =

(5000)(55)(2.31)(1.0)
= 325
(3960)(.52)(.95)

Electrical savings
Savings

= (43) (.746) (24) (365) (.95) (.03)


= $8000 per year

Even better savings may be gained by changing impellers, etc. to give 5000
gpm at 50 psig or less. If a process fluid is being cooled by cooling water to
lO0F, but a fluid temperature of 120F is acceptable, it may be possible to use
less cooling water or cooling water preheated by another source, thereby reducing
cooling water flow.
Flow of liquids through piping transfer lines is generally controlled by the
use of throttling valves. Past design practice has been to design the control valve
to take from 25% to 50% of the system pressure drop. This gives the control valve a
rangeability of approximately 50 to 1. The valve has converted work energy derived
from electricity into frictional heat. Most processes don't require this much
rangeability so a larger control valve with less pressure drop could replace the
original valve, the rangeability being reduced say to ll to 1. Of course, energy
savings can only occur if the pressure in the line is reduced, possibly by reducing
the diameter of the pump impeller. The electric motor should also be replaced with
one of lower horsepower that
3 - 8

meets power requirements. Just installing a new control valve will be useless as
the valve will throttle down until flow is controlled to the original point.
Shinskey, in the Control Systems Can Save Energy article graphically discusses
this energy saving idea.
3-A-4. Lowering Steam Usaqe
One of the most talked about energy wasters is steam leakage from bad steam
traps and leaking fittings. Steam traps are blamed for being inefficient or worn
out and causing as much as 10% of the generated heat from steam to be lost. Is this
true or just a sales method to sell more traps? It turns out that steam leaks cause
a significant energy loss.
Mr. Goyette, in his article Estimating the Costs of Steam Leaks, (see
appendix 7-C) shows the cost effect of steam leakage from various size holes (1/8,
1/16, and 1/32) in a 150 psig steam system. The cost was based upon incremented
steam costs. An example showed that a 1-inch union was found leaking at a loss of
$3000 per year. The repair cost was $50 or a six day payout. Of all the energy
savings steps that the Tenneco plant did, Mr Goyette said the single largest
contributor was steam-leak repairs. Steam traps will wear out. Armstrong Machine
Works claim that the inexpensive disk type steam trap wears out in 6 months and
should be replaced that frequently. If condensate is recovered, leaking traps can
cause an excessive return temperature and cause failure of the condensate return
pumps. Severe water hammer can occur as hot steam contacts condensate that has
cooled below the temperature of the steam.
The following steps are recommended for saving energy in your steam

3 9

condensate distribution system and starting an effective steam energy management


program:
1) Develop an estimate of the cost of steam leaks based upon your plant costs
similar to the Goyette article described above. A method for demonstrating
visually to plant people what these losses are can be made.
2) Run a survey, recording all leaks, size, cost, and location.
3) Check the operation of all installed disc traps used for drips and steam
tracing. If found leaking, consider replacing with a more efficient type
trap. Before replacing, check installation design and confirm trap size
(not over or undersized).
4) Check installation and operation of steam traps used on equipment using
the sound detection method, the pyrometer method, or the glove method. The
installation should be checked for proper trapping. Items checked include
strainer, check valve, back pressure, orifice, and inert gas venting.
Improper venting can cause a severe reduction in heat transfer rate.
5) Check vent valves on steam jacketed equipment and kettles for proper
operation (removal of inerts without steam loss).
6) Start a preventative maintenance program to maintain the steam
distribution system in excellent condition. If manpower is not available
in maintenance, you can have the operating people maintain a simple log
for their area of responsibility.
7) Steam trap manufacturers will be happy to furnish information to assist in
your energy saving program to reduce steam losses, but use your own
economic costs to decide whether to replace, repair, or redesign the
system.

3 10

There is insufficient published information to say that 10% of the steam is


wasted by steam traps, but some major chemical companies have invested large
amounts of manpower and money to replace or revise steam trapping systems in their
plants.
3-A-5. Process Heaters
The Texas Industrial Commission has developed a manual specific to boiler and
process heater efficiency. Consequently, our discussion of process heaters will be
very limited, briefly covering the reduction of excess combustion air and reduction
of stack temperature with small capital investment.
Control of Excess Air
According to Mr. A. M. Woodard, (see article, Reduce Process Heater Fuel,
in appendix 7-C), over half the total fuel consumption for refineries is for
process heaters, the remaining for steam generation. These fired heaters can be
improved from an energy efficiency viewpoint by reducing the amount of heat in the
stack discharge. With the advent of the more accurate and simpler oxygen analyzers,
the control of excess air in a fired heater can be automatically or manually
controlled by the operator. Mr. Woodards article details a method of sampling the
flue gas, monitoring and controlling the system. Four systems are described, but
system 3 is recommended. This consists of locating the draft and oxygen analyzer
readouts in the control room, too. The operator can then monitor and control the
operation of the heater or heaters with ease and comfort. Two safeguards are built
into the system. stop installed to prevent full closure. failure, the positioner
opens the damper. The damper has a mechanical If there is an instrument air
A simple stepwise

3 11

procedure for heater adjustment is given on the last page of the article.
A target excess oxygen for the oxygen recorder with remote manual damper
control was given in the article as 4.0% for gas and 4.5% for oil firing. More
recently, manufacturers are indicating the oxygen can be controlled at 2%. The
decision to go this low must be based upon the risk of temporarily going below
stoichiometric conditions with possible explosion when the heater returns to excess
oxygen conditions. Based upon figure 1 of Mr. Woodards article, substantial
reductions in heat input are accomplished by this approach. This modification will
probably cost less than $5000, yet show considerable savings.
Recovery of Heat from Stack Gases
The amount of heat extracted from burning a fuel can be related to the flue
gas or stack temperature. The extracted heat is defined as the heat absorbed by the
process stream being heated and the losses from the furnace casing (generally
around 2%). Thus the percent heat extracted is:
Heat available in Btu/lb of fuel at the Flue Gas
temperature (FGI), divided by the Heat Content of the
Combustion Fuel in Btu/lb times 100.

The lower heating value (LHV) of the fuel is used for efficiency
calculations. The flue gas temperature depends upon the design condition of the
convection section of the heater and the physical condition of the convective
tubes. A reasonable FGT is the inlet process fluid temperature plus approximately
150 F. If your inlet fluid is at 300 F, the FGT is approximately 450. A check of
the FGT for your heater may show 500 F. Thus, your convective tube section may
have lost some of its heat transfer ability by loss of fins on the tubes. This
becomes a replacement expense.

3 - 12

3-B.

SCHEDULING SHUTDOWNS TO MAXIMIZE ENERGY RECOVERY OR PROFITS


If an exchanger (or reboiler or condenser) used to recover heat from a hot

stream is slowly losing the amount of heat recovered because of fouling, when do
you shutdown? This decision can be based upon maximizing heat recovered or
minimizing the loss in profits. Three cases are described below:
Case 1---Decision based upon energy conservation
Given: An exchanger used to recover waste heat is rated at 11,000,000 Btu/Hr
when clean before fouling. This exchanger slowly loses its heat
transfer capability and the loss is estimated to be 10,000 Btu/Hr per
day. A 12 hour shutdown is required to replace the tube bundle.
Find: Frequency of shutdown to maximize the energy recovery. Assume a 3500
day period of time.
A) At start of day l, heat transfer rate =
heat transfer rate is

11 x 106 At the end of day l,

11 x 106 1 x 104 or 10,990,000 Btu/Hr

B) Let C = number of repairs during the 3500 day period. The heat
recovered for any given day, X of the cycle is

ED = 24(11 x 106 1 x 104 X)


The heat recovered for an entire cycle is

EC =

3500
C

24(11 x 106 1 x 104 X)dx (12)(11 x 106 1 x 104

3500
)
C

1 x 104 3500
3500
3500
EC = 24[(11 x 10 )(
)
(
)] (12)(11 x 106 x
)
C
2
C
C
6

3 13

For the 3500 day period, total heat recovered is

3500
3500 2
3500
EC = 1000 C { 24[(11,000)(
) 5(
)] 12[ 11,000 (
)10 ]}
C
C
C
3500
3500 2
3500
= 24000 C[(11,000)(
) 5(
) 5,500 5(
)]
C
C
C
3500
3500 2
= 24000 C[(10995)(
) 5(
) 5,500]
C
C
6.125 x 107
= 24000[ 3.848 x 107
5500C ]
C
61.25 x 103
6
3
= 24 x 10 ( 38.48 x 10
5.5C )
C
1

dE
= 24 x 106 [ 0 61.25 x 103 x(c 2) 5.5 ]
dC
61.25 x 103
0 =
5.5
C2
61.25 x 103
C2 =
= 11,136
5.5
3500
C = 105.5 cycles or
= 33 days / cycle
1055
ET = 8.96 x 1011 Btu
Case 2---Decision based upon maximum profit, production rate not affected.
Given:

Same conditions as Case 1


Each

1 x 106 Btu is worth $2

Each shutdown costs $10,000 in maintenance and $20,000 in profits.


Find:

Frequency of shutdowns to maximize dollar savings


A) Savings =

61.25 x 103
24 x 10 ( 38.48 x 10
5.5C)(2 x 106) (10,000 + 20,000)(C)
C
61.25 x 103
3
= = 48( 38.48 x 10
5.5C) 30 x 103 C
C
6

3 - 14

ds
3
B)
= 48[ 0 61.25 x 10 ( c 2 ) 5.5] 30 x 103
dc

0 =

2.94 x 106
264 30 x 103
C2

C2 =

2.94 x 106
= 97.15
30 x 103

C = 9.86 cycles or

3500
days
= 355
9.86
cycle

61.25x103
C) ET = 24x10 ( 38.48x10
5.5C) = 7.72x1011 Btu
C
6

Case 3---Decision based upon maximum profit, production rate affected by loss of
heat transfer.
Given:

Same conditions as Case 1 and 2, but production capacity is reduced by

.05% per day. Each .05% loss in rate is $20 per day (20,000 x

24
x
12

.0005) in profits.
Find:

Frequency of shutdowns to maximize dollar savings.


A) Savings =

6
24 x 10(34.48
x 103

61.25
20 3500 2
x 103 5.5C)(2 x 106) (10000 + 20,000)C
(
)
C
2
C

= 48(38.48 x 103

61.25 x 103
1.225 x 108
5.5C) 30 x 103 C
C
C2

3 - 15

61.25 x 103
(1.225)(3)x 108
ds
B)
= 48[ 0
5.5] +
30 x 103
2
3
dc
C
C
0 =

2.94 x 106
3.68 x 108
3

264

30
x
10
+
C2
C3

0 = 30.264 x 103 C3 2.94 x 106 C 3.68 x 108


C = 24.4 cycles
or

3500
= 143 days
24.4

61.25x103
C) ET = 24x10 ( 38.48x10
5.5C) = 8.6x1011 Btu
C
6

SUMMARY

Btus total
No. of cycles
Days per cycle`

CASE 1
MAX ENERGY

CASE 2
MAX PROFIT

CASE 3
MAX PROFIT

8.96 x 1011

7.73 x 1011

8.6 x 1011

105.5

9.9

24.4

33

355

143

It is doubtful that management would agree to shutdowns every 33 days to


maximize energy savings when the maximum profit occurs at 355 days (Case 2), or 143
days (Case 3). However, as the energy cost increases, the frequency of exchanger
cleaning will increase for Cases 2 and 3. In a real plant, the assumptions of
linear losses of heat transfer and production may not be true, but the principles
of handling the decision making are still valid.

3 - 16

FIGURE 31
CENTRIFUGAL PUMP CHARACTERISTIC AND SYSTEM CURVE

3 - 17

FIGURE 32
EXPANSION OF PUMPING SYSTEM

Pumping Efficiency
A or B at 750 gpm = 0.50
A or B at 575 gpm = 0.45
C at 1100 gpm = 0.50

Total head - Ft of fluid


180
160
140
120
100
80
60
40
0

500

1000

1500
2000
Flow - gpm

Two Pumps
Pumps AB New Impellers
New Pump C

3 - 18

2500

3000

Pumps ABC
System Curve

3500

SECTION 4

ENERGY SAVING IMPROVEMENTS WITH CAPITAL INVESTMENTS

Energy consumption for all distillation processes in the United States in


1976 was estimated at 3% of the entire national energy usage. Since distillation is
considered a low efficiency process, it should be possible to improve efficiency
with investments of capital and still receive a reasonable return on investment.
Investments may be made in additional exchangers for heat recovery, column
revisions, better insulation, or column control. In contrast to these simple
changes not requiring capital investments, the more complicated vapor recompression
or heat pump changes are reviewed.
4-A. OPTIMIZATION OF HEAT RECOVERY - HEAT EXCHANGERS
The basis for optimizing heat recovery involves the first and second laws of
thermodynamics. The first law covers the energy balance, the conservation of energy
and the energy equivalence of work and heat. The second law develops the concept of
energy level, the irreversible process, and the conversion of heat to work energy.
If one process stream must be heated and can be heated using another process
stream without using energy from steam or electricity, the heat recovered saves
fossil fuels. The cost savings in energy must exceed the capital investment
equivalence of energy for the heat exchangers and ancillary equipment to be worthy
of installation.
It is easier to design a new facility with the objective of optimizing energy
use than an existing plant. According to Steinmeyer (Seminar on energy
4 - 1

conservation in the AIChE today Series), "----the existing plant cannot


economically achieve the same low (energy) usage as a new plant. The cost
to return to an existing plant and reinsulate a vessel, add heat exchangers,
or increase the number of distillation trays on the basis of energy conservation alone is much higher than starting out in the design phase of a new
plant. Thus, any proposed changes in an existing unit must be carefully
analyzed so that no expenditure for making the change is overlooked. Changes
that reduce profit because certain expenditures were overlooked will be remembered by management when additional changes are recommended.
The amount of heat that can be exchanged depends upon the fluids temperature
level and the amount available. The optimization of heat recovery involves
exchanging Btus at as high a temperature as possible. For example, a vapor product
stream is condensing at 350F in an exchanger using cooling water to remove the
heat. The cooling water temperature discharges at 110F. At this temperature level,
the energy in the cooling water has no use and is totally wasted.
To give an example of the amount of heat available, assume liquid stream A is
flowing at 10,000 lbs/hr at 400F, liquid stream B is flowing at 600 lbs/hr, and
400F too. If both streams must be cooled to 300F, stream A has the greater
availability of heat. If liquid stream C is flowing at 100,000 lbs/hr at 300F, the
heat available above 300F for transfer is zero. Stream C could be used to heat up
a cooler stream, D, to 280F and then stream A could heat up stream D to 380F. The
method for optimizing heat recovery is described in the technical article by Huang
and Elshout (see Appendix 5-C)

4 - 2

A heat availability diagram is shown as Figure 2 in their technical article,


Optimizing the Heat Recovery of Crude Units, by Huang and Elshout. Four streams,
the overhead reflux, kerosene pump around, gas oil product, and the residuum are
available for exchanging heat with the crude in a 130,000 bbl per stream day crude
unit. Each exchange stream has restrictions as to the temperature range that heat
can be removed, and the rate of flow. Huang and Elshout had plotted the heat
available in Enthalpy Times Mass Rate, as millions of Btus per hour for each
stream using 0 enthalpy as the lower restriction temperature for the stream
available for heat exchange. Figure 4-1 is the same drawing as found in Figure 2 of
the Huang and Elshout except the total heat availability curve was returned to its
unshifted position.
The total heat availability curve is determined by summing the enthalpy rate
for each stream at a given selected temperature. For example, at 300, the enthalpy
rate is 0 (kerosine PA) + 37 (G 0 Product) + 55 (residuum) + 320 (OVH) : 412
million Btu/hr. At 400F, the enthalpy rate is 55 (kerosine) + 60 (G 0 Product) +
106 (residuum) + 320 (OVHD) = 541 million Btu/hr.
The total heat exchange curve as plotted is right of the crude oil heat
requirement curve. At first, this would indicate that the crude can be heated to
645F and have an excess of 60 million Btu/hr excess (675 x 106 Btu/hr at 645F 515 x 106 Btu/hr crude requirement). This is not true because heat must be available
at the required temperature level. Below 370F, the slope of the total heat
availability curve is less than the crude requirement curve. This means that
sufficient heat is available at the proper temperature to heat up the crude. Above
370F, the slope is greater than the crude curve and insufficient heat is
available. Even with infinite heat transfer, the final crude
4 - 3

heat exchange temperature must be below 645F.


Haung and Elshout shifted the total heat availability curve to the left until
the two curves touched. They said this represented the maximum amount of heat that
can be exchanged with infinite heat transfer. Below the pinch point, we have
already concluded that more than enough heat is available at the proper temperature
to heat up the crude. Thus, the maximum amount must be represented by the end point
of the total available with the shifted curve or 420 million Btu's per hr. The
maximum crude temperature is 530F. When Huang and Elshout studied the heat
optimization of this unit, they studied four cases and the maximum temperature
reached was 480F. (See Case D, their Figure 4).
Bannon and Marple of Shell Oil Company presented a paper on "Heat Recovery In
Hydrocarbon Distillation" (see Appendix 7-C for paper), in November 1977. They show
two ways to improve the thermal efficiency of distillation columns based upon the
concepts just discussed. If the overhead vapor from a column is at a temperature
high enough to be useful and produces a boiling range top product, the overhead can
be condensed into two stages. First, heat is removed to condense only enough of the
overhead vapors to produce column reflex. The temperature of the condensation stage
is at a higher level than if the entire overhead vapors were condensed in one step.
Then, the remaining vapors are condensed and cooled to product conditions. Bannon
and Marple described a crude oil distilling column at one of their manufacturing
complexes. This column used the two stage condensation approach and transferred 203
million Btu/hr to the crude oil feed. If one stage operation, the heat recovered
would only be 122 million Btu/hr, a loss of 81 million Btu/hr.

4 4

If heat can be withdrawn from a column to balance column vapor loads and
improve separation, the temperature level of the heat removed and made available
for exchange can be increased by designing at high circulating rates. The three
factors for designing circulating reflux systems are the number of systems, the
placement of the systems, and the circulation rate. These factors are described in
the Bannon and Marple article.
The heat recovery efficiency of your distillation columns can be checked for
possible
Network

improvements.
Simulator

This

program

can

be

done

available

on

by
the

using

the

computing

Elshout
service

Heat

Exchanger

bureau,

United

Computing Systems (UCS) or other similar programs. You can also develop your own
available heat curves. Using the exchangers available in the plant as well as new
exchangers, you may be able to hand calculate a fairly good heat recovery system
that is economically feasible.
4-B. COLUMN REVISIONS
Many options are available for conserving energy in distillation processes.
Mix, et al have outlined and also placed in tabular form guidelines for selecting
energy saving options. The more attractive options found in their table and article
are discussed below.
4-B-1. Additional or More Efficient Trays - According to Mix, et al, tray
changes are economically feasible if:

N2 2
4-B-1)

Where

ln
ln s

PR
< 150
R 1

N = Number of trays in the column

= Murphie Plate efficiency


= Relative volatility (light to heavy)
4 5

S = Separation Factor

(xDLK)(xBHK)
(xBLK)(xDHK)
D = Distillate
B = Bottoms
LK = Light Key
HK = Heavy Key
x = Concentration, mole fraction
P = Column pressure in ATM
K = Reflux ratio R/RM
Before one proceeds, it is recommended that a rigorous distillation
calculation be performed on the existing column using the actual temperature,
pressures, compositions, etc. of the column. Distillation programs that have
been developed by Chemshare, Simulation Sciences, Phillips 66, and others for
simulating your column are available through various computing service
bureaus.
A plot can be made of the distribution of the various components tray
by tray. This plot may indicate the feed tray may be changed or additional
trays may be beneficial if entirely in the rectification or stripping section
of the column.
If equation 4-B-1 shows the column may benefit from more trays, you can
run several cases with reflux as the variable (heat load changes) and
determine the saving in energy.

4 6

You have the option of adding more trays or replacing existing trays
with more efficient type trays. For example, Kirpatrick, in his article, "M D
Trays Can Provide Savings In Propylene Purification", (see Appendix 7-C),
describes the design of propylene-propane splitters and the application of
trays with 13 spacings compared to the usual 18 to 24 spacing. With the
shorter spacing and more efficient design, a single column 13.25 ft in
diameter and 265 ft tall, using 196 M D trays was installed and producing
polymer grade propylene.
4-B-2. Additional Column Draw - Three possible column draw options are
pasteurization, intermediate product and intermediate impurity.
Pasteurization means the removal of light ends from the distillate by venting
off the accumulator and removing the distillate product several trays below
the top. Six criteria are listed by Mix, et al.
The intermediate product is considered when the temperature difference
between bottom and top exceeds l00F, and when the split of one key between
two products is desired. The intermediate impurity drawoff is useful for
removing impurity buildup under high reflux operations. The impurity flow
rate must be less than .01 times the feed rate in lb moles per hr, and the
relative volatility between the light and heavy key less than 1.5.
4-C.

OPTIMIZATION OF RECOVERY AND USE OF ENERGY


4-C-1. Introduction - The maximizing of the overall plant energy efficiency
is our purpose in utilizing waste heat possibilities and energy conservation
methods. Distillation columns consume and reject large

4 - 7

amounts of heat. Much of this heat is lost and not recovered. By a


proper reevaluation it might be possible to greatly increase the recovered heat and reduce the input requirements. Several items will be
of major importance in this reevaluation.
(1)

The temperature and heat flows within the column.

(2)

The changes that can be made within the column, including


changed upstream and downstream requirements.

(3)

The plant utilities, heat and cooling sources.

(4)

The needs of the nearby surrounding processes.

The relation of the efficiency of the distillation column to the


overall energy efficiency of a plant cannot be optimized without
knowledge of the requirements of the other processes of the plant.
Integration of the overall plant is the key to maximum energy savings.
To evaluate the available options for this purpose, the following
needs to be known about the plant.
(1)

The process streams that require heating. The beginning and


ending temperature, total heat capacity, and the current
heating methods of each stream is required.

(2)

The process streams that can be cooled. The beginning high


temperature, any low temperature bound, the total heat
capacity, and current cooling method of each stream is
required. Remember that every Btu that can be usefully
recovered replaces a Btu that would otherwise have to come
from a fuel. Any part of heat recovered from a cooled
stream is useful.
4 - 8

(3)

Any reboilers or evaporators on neighboring units are of interest


where a potential use of the distillation columns condensing
vapor exists. For this, the temperature, duty, continuity of
operating parameters, and the current heating method of the
nearby reboilers needs to be known.

(4)

The overall plants steam system. The steam header pressures,


capacities, flows, and overall stream balance (amount letdown,
excesses, etc.) is needed.

(5)

Any units requiring large amounts of low pressure steam or low


quality heat for some purpose. The requirements of duty and
temperature is needed, in addition to the distances from the
column to the unit. As low pressure steam requires large lines,
long distance transport is costly.

(6)

All heat sources from nearby equipment, condensers, etc. that can
be used by the distillation column for its re-boiler and feed
preheating duties. Note that some or all of the distillation
column reboiler duty can be supplied by a high temperature liquid
stream.

4-C-2. Column Heat Utilization - A distillation column has three basic


sources of reject heat, the bottoms product, the condensing overhead vapor,
and the distillate product. The two basic heat inputs are the reboiler and
the feed.

4 9

4-C-2.1 Bottoms Product - The bottoms product liquid is the hottest


source of heat and the obvious heat source. Due to its temperature and liquid
form, the bottoms stream will probably already have some use on an existing
column, such as feed preheating. The most efficient use of the bottom product
is made by maximizing the temperature at which heat is recovered, and by
maximizing the total heat recovery. This situation is reflected by perfect
countercurrent exchange with equal heat capacity on both sides, where there
are only a few degrees driving force throughout the exchanger. As heat is
more valuable at higher temperatures, we must try to recover the heat at as
high a temperature as possible. As even low temperature heat can be valuable,
our aim must also be to recover as much heat as possible. Use a number of
exchangers in series, instead of a single exchanger, is also useful. For
example, assume we have a 700 stream. (and assume heat capacity = 1,000
Btu/F, and all steam at 1000 Btu/lb). We could use a single waste heat
boiler to produce 50 psig steam, causing the stream to cool 700 - 350 = 350
lb of 50 psig steam. A better system would be to use a series of waste heat
boilers. We could produce 200 lb of 400 psig steam (700 - 500), 100 lb of 150
psig steam, (500 - 400), 50 lb of 50 psig steam (400 - 350), and 100 lb of
1ATM steam (350 -250). By using a series we have recovered higher value steam
(400 and 150 psig), and more steam overall (450 lb versus 350 lb).

4 - 10

The ability to use the heat in the bottoms product will depend on its
requirements for downstream processing. If the product is required hot
downstream, it is impractical to cool it and then to reheat the bottoms
stream. If the stream does not need to remain hot, the following represent
possible uses of the bottoms liquid heat.
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)

Preheating the column feed.


Use to run all or a portion of another column's reboiler.
Exchange with another process liquid stream.
Steam generation and boiler feedwater heating.

4-C-2.2 Distillate Product - The options that apply to recovering heat apply
equally well to the distillate product. The opportunities of heat recovery
differ as the distillate product is at a lower temperature than the bottom,
and the distillate product may be a vapor, therefore containing a large
amount of heat in its vaporized condition.
4-C-2.3 Condenser Duty - The largest potential reject heat source of the
distillation column is the condenser. All this heat is available at
essentially a single temperature, and all the heat duty must be removed.
Possible uses of the condenser duty could be to supply heat to a neighboring
columns reboiler, to produce waste steam, or to heat large liquid streams at
low levels, such as supplying hot water for a building.
4-C-2.4 Reboiler Duty - The reboiler represents the largest heat input to the
distillation column. The reboiler requires heat at a

4 - 11

single high temperature. It is desirable to minimize the steam consumption if


possible by using condensing vapors from other columns, hot process streams,
or special very low pressure steam.
4-C-2.5 Feed Preheating- The bottoms product or another hot liquid stream is
often used to preheat the feed. Whatever source used should cause the maximum
overall energy efficiently for the plant.
4-C-3. Changing the Columns Temperature - The existing or proposed column
does not necessarily have to operate on the design conditions. (Do not
operate existing columns over the allowable pressure). By changing the
temperature in the column a small amount, we may be able to obtain a valuable
energy recovery. Lowering the temperature might allow a less valuable steam
to be used. Raising the temperature may allow a waste heat boiler to be used,
or the vapor used to provide reboiling in another column. Note that changing
the temperature will effect the columns operation (different pressure) and
raise or lower both the reboiler and condenser temperatures.
4-C-4. Two-Stage Condensation - For some multicomponent distillation columns
there is a broad range over which the overhead vapors condense (dew point to
bubble point). By using more than one condenser instead of a single total
condenser, we have the opportunity to recover some of the heat at a higher
temperature. For example, we could have two condensers, the first condenser
condensing part of the overhead to provide reflux, the second condensing the
distillate product. This situation is effectively a partial condenser

4 - 12

with vapors later condensed. The items to be emphasized on a multi-stage


condensation column are to avoid subcooling as much as possible, and the
recovery of the waste heat by steam generation in the high temperature
condenser.
4-C-5. Waste Heat Boilers - The use of a condenser as a waste heat boiler is
simple. The condenser is operated in a partially flooded situation, where the
level changes as the heat duty is changed. The water is boiled at constant
pressure in the tube side, and all steam produced sent to steam headers or
its ultimate use. The temperature at which the condenser operates is
important. For a temperature of less than 200F, no sort of steam can be
produced. For higher temperatures the steam produced is determined by the required pressure (1ATM, 40#, 150#, etc.). The condenser will have to be larger
as the temperature driving force goes down, so the economics should be looked
at. It may be necessary, in a case where low pressure steam could be produced
but no use exists at this low pressure, although one does at a slightly
higher pressure, to mechanically compress the low pressure steam to a higher
pressure, say from 25 psig to 40 psig. Remember the true values given to the
different steam pressures during the evaluation of different waste heat steam
generator possibilities.
4-C-6. Multiple Effect Heat Cascading for Distillation Columns - The
condensing overhead vapors of one distillation column can be used to provide
the reboiling duty of another column, where the condensing temperature is
higher than the reboiling temperature. This

4 - 13

creates in effect the equivalent of a multieffect evaporator system, except


that the distillation columns is used, rather than the direct evaporation.
Any number of distillation columns can be placed in series, such as the three
column example of Figure 4-2. Note that different materials are being split,
and the columns are disimilar, except for the heat duties.
The columns run by using the overhead of one column to provide the
reboiling of the other will probably not have the same heat duties, therefore
any excess duty can be carried by an auxiliary system. Where the hotter
column is smaller than the cooler column, an auxiliary reboiler will be
needed for the cooler column. In the other case where the hotter column is
larger, an auxiliary condenser on the hot column will be used, with all the
cooler columns duty carried by the hot columns vapor. With the proper
auxiliaries, the heat cascaded columns can be operated almost independently,
therefore little control problems will be met. The heat cascaded distillation
columns are different from a split tower arrangement, because the split tower
has the same feed and products.
The heat savings by use of heat cascading are obvious as each reboiler
run by the overhead vapor of another column removes that much of an external
heat input. The costs are for a slightly more complex system, and the piping
and extra heat exchanger surface for the condenser reboiler. The heat
cascaded system work best where nearby columns exist, these columns having
different temperatures, and each column has a fairly narrow range of
temperature between the top to bottom of the column. In some cases, it may be
desirable to operate the hot column at a higher pressure and the cool column
at a lower

4 - 14

pressure than optimum in order to increase the temperature difference between


them. The use of heat cascading will interfere with other possible uses of
the hot condenser duty, such as in producing waste heat steam, so that the
various cases must be evaluated for the optimum case.
4-C-7 Split Tower - The use of a split tower can afford significant energy
savings over a conventional distillation column. A split tower arrangement
consists of splitting the feed into two equivalent streams and distilling in
two smaller columns. The two columns operate at different pressures, one
higher than the other, resulting in its overhead vapor having a condensing
temperature high enough to be able to use the condensing vapor to provide the
reboiling duty in the lower pressure column. The bubble point temperature of
the overhead vapor must be high enough over the bubble point of the lower
pressure reboiling bottoms to provide a sufficient delta T for the condenserreboiler. The feed stream will be split so that the condenser duties of the
high pressure column approximately matches the required reboiler duty of the
low pressure column. (See Figure 4-3 for an example split tower arrangement).
The heat, input to the reboiler, of the high pressure column rises to
the condenser where it then provides the reboiling duty of the other column.
By use of the split tower arrangement, we have cut our energy use almost in
half. Note that instead of two columns, any number of columns can be used in
the split tower fashion. However, For each additional tower, an extra delta T
must be supplied, plus the temperature drop across the column. In addition,
the energy savings drops

4 - 15

as each column is added. The two tower system saves 50% of the energy.
Another tower saves (50 - 33) or only 17%. A fourth tower will save
only 8.3%. So our writeup will deal with only the two column
arrangement.
The split tower system has a single reboiler and single condenser. The temperature difference between the reboiler and condenser
will be much greater than that of an ordinary column. This occurs
because the two columns each have their own temperature diffence to be
met from the top to bottom, and the driving force for the condenserreboiler must be supplied. As a result of this for the split tower
arrangement to work, the following factors must be present:
(1)

The temperature and pressure in the high pressure column


must be below the critical points.

(2)

The pressure must not be so large as to require too heavy


column walls.

(3)

The low pressure column must not be too low, so low a


vacuum as to cause trouble.

(4)

The products must not be degraded by the highest temperature or frozen, or too viscous at the lowest temperature.

(5)

The heat source must be able to supply heat at a temperature above that of the reboiler.

(6)

The condenser temperature must not be below that obtainable


by conventional air and water cooling. Re-

4 16

frigeration cannot be tolerated, unless the conventional column


would also need refrigeration.
The split tower arrangement has a large temperature difference between
the reboiler and condenser, thus it will probably be desirable to minimize
this by using small delta Ts across the reboiler, condenser-reboiler, and
condenser. This will mean a large heat exchanger surface being required. Even
so, it is likely a higher temperature heat source will be needed for the
reboiler. As it is at a higher temperature, the heat will be more expensive,
such as a higher pressure steam. This means we are saving energy, but using a
more costly source.
The feed to a single tower will be split in two for the two column
arrangement. Therefore, the individual columns will be about one-half the
size of the single column. However, the relative volatility and the mass
flowrate/area through the columns will change with the pressure, resulting in
a differently sized tower than just one-half the size.
From an economical viewpoint a split tower arrangement will require two
columns, instead of one larger one. Each column will require its own
instrumentation, causing twice the instrument costs. The higher pressure
column will need thicker walls, and its size may be larger than expected.
(See preceding paragraph). A larger exchange surface is needed for the
various exchangers. Various auxiliary exchangers may be required for column
control. The savings of the split tower arrangement come from the reduced
heat requirement. However, the value of the heat used should be higher per
Btu used than in the case of a single column. In many respects, a split

4 - 17

tower will be similar in economic desirability to a vapor re-compression


column. The key is to have a low temperature difference from the top to the
bottom of the column.
In designing the split tower arrangment, the low pressure column should
be set by the achievable condenser temperature. Then the split tower should
be worked backwards from this point, a reasonable temperature drive given for
the condenser-reboiler, then the high pressure column found, finally
resulting in a temperature for the reboiler. With this temperature the
available heat sources should be examined, for example, the various steam
pressures, and one chosen. The delta T available should then be distributed
between the reboiler, condenser-reboiler, and condenser to obtain the minimum
required heat exchanger surface area. The feed between the towers should be
split in order to approximately give equal duties for the high pressure
condensation and low pressure reboiling under design operating conditions.
The control of a split column will be more complex than that of a
single column. The object of the control system will be to decouple the two
towers to a certain extent. The use of an auxiliary condenser on the high
pressure column and a auxiliary reboiler on the low pressure column will give
energy efficiency and good control. Control can also be had by having only
one auxiliary exchanger, and by having one of the columns run at a higher
duty than the other. The feed split ratio between the columns can be used as
part of the control. Note that the bottoms of the high pressure

4 - 18

tower can be mixed with the low pressure bottoms and flashed in the low
pressure tower. This would result in a uniform bottoms composition.
The split tower design offers a good possibility of energy savings with
a new installation. Where an existing column exists already, it would be
possible to increase capacity by adding another tower next to the existing
one and installing a new condenser-reboiler so that the existing column will
become one-half of a split tower arrangement. In cases where no capacity
increase is desired, but the column original size was such that two towers
were used, it may be possible to convert it to a split tower operation by
installing a more efficient column internal trays and by adding a condenserreboiler, new piping, and new instrumentation. The savings that can result
from a split tower design are very much afftected by the cost of energy to
the reboiler, so the true energy cost should be evaluated before using a
split tower.
4-C-8. Interreboilers, Intercondensers, and Feed Preheating The reboiler is
at the highest temperature of any part of the distillation column, therefore
it is the worst place to add heat as a high temperature (and therefore more
valuable) heat source must be used. Likewise, the condenser represents the
worst place to remove heat as its temperature is the lowest, and any
recovered heat will be of low value. If heat can be added at another part of
the column in place of heat added at the bottom, we can use a less valuable
heat source (i.e. lower pressure steam) or have a smaller heat exchanger
surface area due to the increased delta T available. In the case of the
condenser heat re-

4 - 19

jection being replaced by rejection at another part of the column, a smaller heat
exchange surface could be used, or the heat recovered (example waste steam
generation), or a refrigeration requirement for the condenser reduced. Thus if we
can shift some of the re-boiler or condenser duty to another part of the column, we
may be able to save money.
The reboiler duty can be reduced by using one or more inter-reboilers and
feed preheating. The condenser duty can be reduced by use of intercondensers and
feed precooling (i.e. condensation of a vapor feed). Note that if we hold the total
heat duties constant, and use interreboilers and intercondensers, then the number
of trays in the column will have to be increased at the top and bottom sections,
although the column cross-sectional area can be reduced. The key to proper use of
feed preheating and interreboilers is to make sure the reboiler duty goes down
correspondingly with the increased auxilliary duty, hold overall energy use
constant while less valuable energy can be used.
The effects of using interreboilers, feed preheating, and inter-condenersers
on separation can be seen easily on the simple McCabe-Thiele diagram of Figure 4-4.
The different liquid-to-vapor ratios are found for the use of an interreboiler and
plotted on the diagram. The extra theoretical trays can be counted. The location of
the new trays in the column is obvious. The new vapor rates in the different column
sections can be used to find the required cross-sectional areas of the sections of
the column.

4 - 20

4-C-9. Feed Preheating - The object of feed preheating is to replace a


portion of the reboiling duty with that of the feed preheating. This method
is particularly valuable when most of the feed is removed as the distillate
product. This situation results in reboiler duty being greatly reduced by
preheating. Preheating of the feed is of special benefit as, the feed may be
at a low initial temperature, so it can be heated to high temperature by a
simple counter-current exchange with another stream, such as the bottoms and
distillate product. Having a partially vaporized feed is easily handled by
any of the distillation column design methods. Another possibility is that
the feed may be already taken as a vapor product from some previous column.
By feeding the feed as partially or wholly as a vapor, the vapor flow (and
therefore the required diameter) will be larger in the rectifying stage than
the stripping stage.
4-C-10. Interreboiler - The use of an interreboiler effects the column in a
manner similar to that of the feed preheating. In this case we are attempting
to use a less valuable heat source (i.e. low pressure steam) to replace the
more valuable heat at the reboiler. The use of an interreboiler will be most
effective in cases where the upper section of the column requires more reflux
than the lower stages. The stripper section will have a lower vapor flowrate,
but will require more stages than a conventional column.
4-C-11. Intercoolers and Feed Precoolers - Other than in this case of a
refrigerated column, where any savings are valuable, the use of intercondensers and feed precoolers will be more difficult to justify. The use of
an intercondenser can be effective when waste steam (or heat)

4 - 21

can be produced by an intercooler, but not by the lower temperature


condenser. This is most effective when the stripping section requires more
reflux, or more bottom product is taken, but that the rectifying section
needs little. An objective in using an inter-condenser or feed precooler is
not to have to increase the required reboiler duty. Feed precooling would be
used in the case where the initial feed is a vapor.
A special situation exists where a multicomponent distillation is being
used with light products predominating toward the top of the column. An
intercondenser may be used in order to reduce the vapor rate in the top of
the column, allowing a thinner section to be used on the top.
4-C-12. Circulating Refluxes - One commonly encountered situation is where a
multicomponent separation column exists which has several sidedraws. On a
column of this type we can take liquid from one tray, cool it in an external
exchanger, and return the liquid to a tray a few trays higher. This can be
called a pumparound, a circulating reflux, or an intermediate condenser.
Circulating reflux systems are used for two reasons, recovering energy
and balancing vapor loads. The internal recycling system causes a hot liquid
stream to be drawn off. The heat that is removed from the hot liquid can be
recovered. For example, it can be used to heat a stream, or to produce steam.
As the stream is at a higher temperature than the overhead condenser, the
heat can be recovered at the more valuable higher temperatures. As the stream
is a liquid, it can be easily handled in conventional heat exchange
equipment. The other reason

4 - 22

for using a circulating reflux is to reduce the vapor load in the upper
column. As lighter lower molecular weight components predominant towards the
top without a circulating reflux the gas volume will increase, resulting in
the need for a larger cross-section.
R. P. Bannon and S. Marple in their paper (See Appendix 7-C) suggest
that there be at least as many circulating refluxes as side draws (See Figure
4-5). The objective in this case is to minimize the draw tray liquid
spillover down the column. Spillover flow needs to be 10% or so to allow for
control variations. If spillover occurs, it means that we are removing heat
at a lower temperature than is necessary. Two situations are suggested for
the placement of the pumparounds removal and return trays. One is that the
liquid reflux and the side draw are taken from the same tray, with the
returning cooled liquid being added several trays higher, under the next
sidedraw. The other is to have the liquid removed at a lower tray, and then
returned to the tray just below the sidedraw. For the second case the
temperature is maximized as a low tray is used. As we are attempting to
remove heat at as high as temperature as possible, the refllux flowrate
should be large so that its return temperature is as high as possible. Both
the initial removal and final return temperature are important in determining
the temperature at which we can recover heat.
By using a circulating reflux we reduced the amount of reflux in the
upper trays. This results in a requirement for more trays to maintain the
same separation. Since the vapor flowrate is also reduced in the upper
section, we will have as a result a slimmer, taller column.

4 - 23

4-D.

USE OF VAPOR RECOMPRESSION AND HEAT PUMPS FOR DISTILLATION


4-D-1. Introduction - Vapor recompression consists of taking the overhead
vapors of a column, condensing the vapor to liquid, and using the heat liberated by the condensation to reboil the bottoms liquid from the same column.
The temperature driving force needed to force heat to flow from the cooler
overhead vapors to the hotter bottoms product liquid is set up by either
compressing the overhead vapor so it condenses at a higher temperature, or
lowering the pressure on the reboiler liquid so it boils at a lower temperature, then compressing the bottoms vapor back to the column pressure. A
conventional column has a separate condenser and reboiler, each with its own
heat transfer fluid such as cooling water and steam. The vapor recom-pression
column has a combined condenser-reboiler, with no external heat transfer
fluids.
The vapor recompression cycle has a set ratio between available condenser side to reboiler duty. The reboiler heat flow obtained will be equal
to the sum of condenser duty plus the work added to the gas stream and its
inefficiencies. In all cases where the column reboiting and condenser duties
do not match in the manner stated an auxiliary system will be needed to
supply the excess column condenser or reboiler duty.
The advantage of vapor recompression lies in its ability to move large
quantities of heat between the condenser and reboiler of the column with a
small work input. This results from cases where there is only a small
difference between the overhead and bottoms temperature. A conventional
column with steam heating and water cooling may use ten times the Btu's of a
column running with vapor recompression.
4 - 24

4-D-2. Distillation Columns Reflux and Heat Balance - In distillation, vapors


move up trays and liquids down to separate the feed into lighter and heavier
components. A reflux of liquid from the top and vapor from the bottom provide
the needed mass flows. A pressure gradient created by increased temperatures
as we move down the trays provides the force to move vapors up the column. As
you go from the top to the bottom of the column, the temperature increases,
caused both by the increased concentration of heavier components and the
increasing pressure required.
Let TOV be the bubble point temperature at which the overhead vapor from
the top of the column condenses for the liquid reflux. Let TBL be the bubble
point temperature that the bottoms liquid boils for the vapor flux. It is
clear that most of the heat used in the distillation column is to provide the
liquid and vapor refluxes. This heat is added to vaporize the bottoms liquid
at TBL. The heat is removed to condense the overhead vapor at TOV.
For the overhead vapors, a condenser is needed to provide reflux and
its desired distillate product state. The condenser will condense overhead
vapors to provide reflux. The reflux stream can be subcooled to reduce the
mass flowrate, but the heat duty required for reflux is constant,

= R (the reflux flowrate)x(HVAP)(for the overhead product).

The

condenser can be operated as a partial or complete condenser. For a partial


condenser some or all of the desired product may be taken as a gaseous
product, resulting in an extra stage. For the condenser where the product is
taken as a liquid, this duty is also added to the overall condenser duty, so
that we get approximately that the heat duty of the condenser,

qC = (R + DL)(H VAP). Definitions of the nomenclature are found on Table 45, Nomenclature of Section 4-B.

4 25

The bottoms liquid needs a reboiler to provide vapor reflux (RV). The
reboiler duty for vapor reflux needed is equal to vapor reflux RV times the
heat of vaporization for the bottom liquid, so heat duty =

R V(HVAP). Normally

the bottoms product will be removed as a liquid, but if needed the bottom
product can be vaporized also, giving the total heat duty as

qh = (R V + BV)HVAP .
As can be seen most of the heat used in distillation is added, qh at TBL
and removed, qc, at TOV. The reflux requirement results in qc and qh being
reasonably close, but as TBL > TOV the column needs external input to operate.
An ordinary column has a separate condenser and reboiler. The condenser
running on the overhead vapors rejects the heat into an external heat
transfer fluid. The fluid can be cooling water, air, chilled brine, boiling
refrigerant, or boiling water producing waste steam. The conventional case
would be using cooling water to absorb the heat given off in the condenser.
In this case the heat is lost. The reboiler boiling the bottoms liquid
requires an external heat input from a heat transfer fluid. Possible fluids
include steam (condensing anywhere from 0 to 600 psig), condensing dowtherm
vapor, molten salts, burning natural gas, a hot liquid stream, or hot water.
A conventional column will use valuable steam to supply the needed heat. An
example of a conventional column can be seen in Figure 4-6.
4-D-3 - Vapor Recompression - A distillation column driven by a vapor recompression cycle differs. In a vapor recompression cycle, the condensing and
reboiling are supplied in a single exchanger (the condenser-reboiler).

4 26

Work is input to the system to transfer heat from the condensing


overhead vapor to supply heat for the reboiling bottoms liquid. A driving
force to override the fact that TBL > TOV is arranged by changing the systems
pressure, so that the temperature at which the overhead vapor now condenses
at is higher than the temperature the boiling liquid boils at. All the heat qc
removed from the condenser side goes to heat the reboiler. The reboiler also
receives the work energy added to the system, plus its inefficiencies. So the
qh = qc + W.
Where qh and qc do not match the overall column requirements of qh and qc
the difference is made up by auxiliary exchanger such as a normal condenser
or reboiler. Thus, in a vapor recompression, the external inputs of heat
transfer fluids are greatly reduced, while some work is needed.
The temperature driving force necessary to transfer heat from the
overhead vapor to the bottom liquid, and to supply the necessary driving
force across the exchanger surface ( TEX ) can be supplied in one of two ways;
(1)

The overhead vapor can be compressed, so that its bubble point is


at the higher temperature over TBL needed to give the wanted TEX
across the condenser-reboiler.

(2)

The bottom liquid pressure can be reduced in the condenserreboiler, so that bubble point is at a low enough temperature
below TOV to provide the wanted

TEX . Then the bottom vapor is

compressed to a pressure high enough to allow it to enter the


column.
These two situations are shown in Figure 4-7.

4 - 27

Note that a flash tank is added when the overhead vapors are compressed
to avoid returning superheated liquid to the top of the column where it will
flash. In the other case where bottoms are compressed, the Superheated vapors
from the bottoms liquid are of no importance.
4-D-4. - Heat Pump - A heat pump uses a separate condenser and reboiler as
does an ordinary column. However, heat is transferred from the condenser to
the reboiler in a manner similar to that of vapor recompression. An isolated
heat transfer fluid is boiled in the condenser, compressed, and condensed in
the reboiler. (See Figure 4-8). The characteristics of the vapor
recompression cycle are retained by the heat pump cycle, but an additional
exchanger and an extra

TEX across it is needed.

4-D-5. - Theory Behind Vapor - Recompression and Heat Pumps


4-D-5.1 - The Carnot Cycle - The Carnot cycle is defined as an ideal
reversible process for the extraction of work from a heat flow between
two different levels. A Carnot cycle consists of the following four
steps:
(1)

A reversible isothermal expansion of a gas at Th from P1 to P2. qh


heat is gained and some work is produced.

(2)

A reversible adiabatic expansion of a gas from P2 to P3 at which


the temperature drops from Th to Tc. No heat is transferred
(adiabatic) and some work is produced.

(3)

A reversible isothermal compression of the gas at Tc from P3


to P4. qc heat is lost and some work is used.

(4)

A reversible adiabatic compression of the gas from P4 to P1

4 - 28

where the temperature increases Tc to Th. No heat flows, but some


work is used. This overall cycle results in a number of
associated equations.

q h + qc = Wideal
Wideal
T Tc
= h
qh
Th
This equation is the famous Carnot equation for efficiency. It is
known that the maximum amount of work that can be done by any process
for a given amount of heat at Th is the Carnot efficiency

Th Tc
.
Th

Derivative equations include:


Carnot efficiency 0 <

< 1

Wideal
T Th
= c
qc
Tc
W
W
< ideal
qh
qh
The Carnot cycle is totally reversible. Therefore the work can be
input to transfer heat from the cold source to the hot source.
Rearranging the equations results in:

qh = W q c
qh
T Th 1
Th
=(c
) =
Wideal
Tc
Th Tc
qc
Tc
=
Wideal
Tc Th
qc
qh
=
Wideal
Wideal
qh
q h
=
+ 1
Wideal
Wideal
4 29

This means heat can be moved by work. As in the Carnot cycle for
work, it turns out that the maximum heat, qc, that can be transferred
between Tc and Th by a given amount of work. Wideal is given by the Carnot
cycle.

qcmax
W

qc
Wideal

qc
qc
qc
(real process < max =
(Carnot efficiency)
W
W
Wideal
From now on we will refer to all q/w, heat/work ratios in the absolute
value terms, or:

qc
qh
+ 1 =
Wideal
Wideal
qh
Th
=
Wideal
Th Tc
qc
Tc
=
Wideal
Th Tc
qh
qc
T
/
= h
Wideal
Wideal
Tc
The work imput will be done to the system by an external source, heat
flow qc will be removed at Tc and heat flow qh will be supplied to the higher
temperature Th.

4 30

For a real process there will be efficiency losses. For this case of
heat movement by work, there are two efficiency losses to be worried about.

p = The efficiency within the process cycle. These inefficiencies


result in heat being added to qh. These items are caused by such things as
refrigeration cycle inefficiencies, the compressor inefficiencies, the fluid
losses, etc.

m = The efficiency losses that do not cause heat to the cycle. This is
best exemplified by the driver losses, for example, an electric motor loss or
a steam turbine loss do not add heat to the process, so we get the following
equations:
(Note that Wideal will be expressed for a flowrate qc)

Wideal
= m x p
W
Wideal = m x p x W
qh = qc + m x W
qh = qc +

Wideal
p

qc
Tc
=
Wideal
Th Tc
x p x Tc
qc
= m
W
(Th Tc)
qc
qc
/
= m x p
W
Wideal

4 - 31

x p x Tc
q
qh
= c + m = m + m
W
W
Th Tc
qh
qc
1
Tc
1
=
+
=
+
Wideal
Wideal
p
Th Tc
p
qh
qh
/
= m x p
W
Wideal
Potentially large heat/work ratios are possible which means much heat
can be transferred for a little work. For the case of a constant heat
difference (Th Tc) of l00F the heat/work ratios will increase with
increasing temperatures.

At Tc = 40F,

qc
Tc
460 + 40
=
=
= 5
Wideal
Th Tc
100
qh
qc
=
+ 1 = 6
Wideal
Wideal

At Tc = 540F,

qc
= 10
Wideal

At Tc = 1040F,

qc
= 15
Wideal

At Tc = 1540F,

qc
= 20
Wideal
qh
= 21
Wideal

4 32

Even more important than the absolute temperature is the temperature


difference Th Tc. For a constant Tc of 40F we get:
At Th = 140F, Th Tc = 100F,

qc
460 + 40
=
= 5
Wideal
140 40

At Th = 90F, Th Tc = 50F,

qc
= 10
Wideal

At Th = 60F, Th Tc = 20F,

qc
= 25
Wideal

At Th = 45F, Th Tc = 5F,

qc
= 100
Wideal

For Vapor Recompression, we will count the heat exchanger

TEX as part

of the process. So for the ideal work equations the temperature Th - Tc is


represented by

TBL TOV + TEX , the top to bottom of the column temperature

difference plus the delta T across the condenser-reboiler. The Tc = TOV where
the overhead vapor is compressed,

Tc = TOV TEX where the bottom liquid is

expanded.

qc
TOV
TOV TEX
=
or
Wideal
TBL TOV + TEX
TBL TOV + TEX
qh
TBL + TEX
TBL
=
or
Wideal
TBL TOV + TEX
TBL TOV + TEX
4-D-5.2 - The Refrigeration Cycle - Vapor recompression uses a refrigeration
cycle rather than a Carnot cycle for heat transfer be tween the two sources
at Tc and Th. A refrigeration cycle consists of 4 steps.

4 33

(1)

A vapor stream condenses at pressure Ph, representing saturation


point for Th. This gives of qh heat, no work.

(2)

The liquid stream is flashed from Ph to Pc. The Pc is the


saturation pressure for temperature Tc. No heat or work flow
occurs.

(3)

The remaining liquid boils at Pc, Tc removing qc of heat. No work


is used.

(4)

The vapors at Pc , Tc are compressed adiabatically to Ph, the


temperature rising above Ph (back to Step 1). No heat flows but W
work is used.

The refrigeration cycle therefor absorbs heat at Tc, releasing the heat
at Th, only two pressure levels Pc and Ph are met (other than within the
compressor). The refrigeration cycle is not reversible and is less efficient
than a Carnot cycle between the two temperatures. Figure 4-9 demonstrates
temperature-enthalpy processes for the two cycles.
Let us work out a simple example of a refrigeration cycle. Water is the
working fluid. The water will boil at 212F absorbing heat and reject heat at
230F. The pressure of saturated water at 212F = 14.698 psia, at 230F the
pressure is 20.78 psia. Assume no inefficiencies other than that
characteristic of the fluid and refrigeration cycle.
Water boils at 212F forming vapor. Assume we have 1 lb of vapor. The work
needed to compress it from 14.698 psia to 20.78 psia is:

4 34

P2 k k 1

k
Work =
x P1 x V1 x ( )
1
k 1
P1

k = 1.2857, P1 =14.698, V1 = 26.8 ft3/lb


w = 26.24 Btu/lbm vapor
The temperature of the gas after compression is
h (water vapor 212F) = 1150.5 Btu
h (after compression) = h212 + W = 1176.74 Btu at 20.78 psia
Temperature = 270F
In the condenser operating at 20.78 psia, saturated liquid leaves so
hout - hin = 198.32 - 1176.74 = - 978.42 Btu/lb
The liquid leaving the condenser is flashed from 230F, 20.78 psia
to 14.698 psia, 212.
0.018715 lbm steam + 0.98128m lb water
The water is boiled at 212F for the heat absorption
hout - hin = 1150.5 180.16 = 970.34 Btu/lbm
(.98128 lb) x (970.34) = 952.17 Btu
qc

952.17 BTU

qh

970.34 BTU

26.24

A Carnot Cycle will give:

qc
212 + 460
=
= 37.3333
Wideal
230 212
qh
= 37.2222 + 1 = 38.3333
Wideal
4 - 35

The Refrigeration Cycle gives:

qc
= 36.287
W
qh
= 36.9794
W
qc
qc
/
= .971974
W
Wideal
qh
qh
= .96468
/
W
Wideal
This shows 3% efficiency is lost by the refrigeration cycle for this case.
The characteristic of the refrigerant heat transfer fluid used is
important on efficiency. The following list gives the desired characteristics
listed in rough order of importance.
(1)

The vapor pressure of the fluid must be in a reasonable range for


the desired temperatures. A vapor pressure of 0.1 psia or 5000
psia would make the fluid undesirable.

(2)

The liquid cannot freeze at the lowest temperature met in the


cycle.

(3)

A high heat transfer coefficient is desirable to minimize

TEX

and exchanger surface.


(4)

A high heat of vaporization per mole is desired. This maximizes


heat transfer for a given gas flow through the compressor.

4 36

(5)

The Ph/Pc for the temperatures Th, Tc need to be minimized, both


for power saving and possible compressor problems.

(6)

If the refrigerant is near its critical point, the above two


quantities (4,5) turn very unfavorable.

(7)

The heat capacity of the liquid to be low as to minimize flashing


vapor.

(8)

k, the heat capacity ratio, should be as low (near 1) as


possible.

4-D-6. Vapor Recompression 4-D-6.1 Situations - A number of different situations can exist for a
vapor recompression setup. The location of the main compressor in the
overhead or bottoms gas stream is only one of the problems. The status
of the feed, distillate, and bottoms product as to whether they are
vapor or liquid makes a difference. For a vapor recompression system
with overhead vapor compression, this is a need to avoid the hot liquid
from the condenser-reboiler from flashing upon entering the
distillation column. This can be done either with a flash tank
returning vapor to the overhead stream, or an exchanger can be used to
cool the liquid below the flash temperature. Every column will require
either an auxiliary reboiler or condenser to correctly match its heat
balance. Both these auxiliaries may be added and oversized, so as to
control the equipment. In the case of a refrigerated column the method
of refrigeration is of interest.

4 - 37

Figure 4-10, 4-11, and 4-12 will give an idea as to the number of
possibilities of different setups. Figure 4-10 is for a heat pump.
Figure 4-11 and 4-12 show four individual cases, I A and B, and II A
and B that indicate a desirable or optimum setup for the given
situation. Cases I A and B deal with the situations met in a hot column
where heat is costly (steam supplied for example) and cooling is done
by water or air. Cases II A and B deal with a different situation where
there is a cold column which operates at refrigerated conditions,
making cooling valuable.
4-D-6.2 Auxiliary Heat Transfer Equipment - A vapor recompression
column will need auxiliary equipment to perform the necessary balancing
of the condensing and reboiling duties of the distillation column. In
addition, the column is controlled by these auxiliaries. The following
general situations of heat duty could be met.
(1) The vapor recompression cycle is used for only part of the
heat duty for either the condenser or reboiler, say 50%. For this case
a large conventional condenser and reboiler will be used as the
auxiliary. Essentially we would have a conventional distillation
column, with great control over it, but with a significant portion of
the heat load carried out by the high efficiency vapor recompression
cycle. This hybrid column will have most of the advantages of both a
conventional column and a vapor recompression column.
(2) One of the duties, either the condensing or reboiling duties,
will be in great excess. In this case only one item, a large auxiliary
condenser or reboiler will be needed. The auxiliary item will control
the column and balance its heat duties.
4 - 38

(3) The condensing and reboiling duty requirements are close and
the great portion of the heat load is carried by the vapor
recompression cycle. A separate small auxiliary reboiler and auxiliary
condenser would both be added. This will allow control of the column
and some flexibility.
A system with a separate heat pump cycle will experience similar
problems, although the auxiliary equipment will be interfaces with the
heat pump fluid, not directly to the column.
A column operating at refrigerated temperatures permits special
uses for the auxiliary equipment. If excess cooling is available from
the vapor recompression cycle, then it may be possible to use this
valuable cooling to chill water or cool some other item. Excess cooling
is not expected in most cases, but excess heat needs to be removed from
the column. A conventional heat pump refrigeration system may be used
to provide the cooling, but there are a number of other possibilities.
The bottoms vapor can be compressed by an auxiliary compressor to where
it condenses at ambient temperatures, using the bottoms liquid as the
heat transfer fluid just as a heat pump refrigeration system would. In
this situation it is desirable to have the compressor in the overhead.
This leaves the condenser-reboiler operating at a higher temperature
than the other case, and the bottom vapors leaving the reboiler are
then in a good position to be compressed by an auxiliary compressor.
Note that the entire condensing and reboiling loads are carried by the
condenser-reboiler, and the auxiliary equipment are not parallel to the
condenser-reboiler as in the case of higher temperature operations.

4 - 39

4-D-6.3 Compressor Drives and Their Energy Costs

The compressor of the vapor

recompression cycle will require a driving work source. The compressor work
requirement is expected to be sizeable in most cases. The compressor and its
driver will be located near the column to avoid long pipelines for the vapor
stream entering and leaving the compressor. Thus, we can have one of a number
of local power sources. Among the possible driver sources are:
(1)

An electric motor.

(2)

A steam driven turbine, letting high pressure steam down to a


lower pressure (for example, 600# steam to 40#).

(3)

A gas turbine, running on natural gas.

(4)

A diesel engine.

(5)

A process expansion turbine (gas or liquid).

To obtain a true picture of the overall energy savings by a vapor


recompression cycle, the energy sources original generation efficiency must
be included. For example, if an electric motor is used, the costs and
efficiencies of the electric plant should be included. For example, if the
vapor recompression cycle has a heat/work ratio of 10, after accounting for
the electric generation efficiency of 33%, we get an overall energy savings
of 3.3. The column run conventionally would use 3.3 times as much energy as
the vapor recompression cycle, not 10 times as much.
Likewise the fuel cost and efficiencies for the gas turbine or diesel
drive should be considered, as well as the equipment and maintenance cost of
gas turbine or diesel.

4 - 40

A steam turbine, say 75% efficient, will probably be the most efficient
driver overall, where the excess high pressure steam exists and the low
pressure steam is needed. A part of the plant's steam plant costs should be
charged to the turbine.
4-D-6.4 Insulation of Columns Using Vapor Recompression or Heat Pumps The insulation required for the column and its associated equipment
will vary with the situation for a vapor recompression system. For the case
of hot operation of the column where the condenser duty is in excess, no
insulation is needed for stopping heat flow, although legal requirements and
other needs may require a small amount of insulation on exposed surfaces.
Where the column is hot and extra reboiler duty is needed, the column should
be insulated like a conventional distillation column.
For a column operated at cold temperatures, insulation will probably be
required to prevent moisture freezing on the lines and heat flows into the
column. The amount of insulation required will again be related to whether
excess cooling is available or extra cooling is needed. The refrigeration
cost will determine the optimum thickness.
In general a small amount of insulation is expected to be needed, to
protect against ambient conditions, but that the thickness used is expected
to be somewhat less than that of a conventional column.
4-D-6.5 Vapor Recompression for Interreboilers, Other Columns - Vapor
recompression, transferring heat from a colder source to a hotter sink can be
used at any point. For example, if a column has intercondensers and
interreboilers, these items can be used as part of a vapor recom-pression
cycle just like an overall column recompression cycle can be used.

4 - 41

The heat duties will need careful balancing when unusual points are used.
Note that the temperature difference between the inner units will be lower
than that across the overall column, and vapor recompression may be favorable
for inner units even though the top to bottom difference is too large to be
favorable for the overall vapor recompression.
The inner units may be joined in any fashion. An interreboiler can be
interfaced with the overhead condensing vapor; an inter-condenser to an
interreboiler or the bottoms product reboiler.
The vapor recompression cycle can be used for other columns, the
overhead vapors of one column compressed and condensed to boil the bottoms of
another column. The total heat duties will probably not be very close in
these cases, meaning lots of auxiliary heat transfer equipment will remain.
4-D-7. Reasons For Conversion of an Existing Column - There can be a number
of reasons why it is desired to switch an existing conventional column to a
vapor recompression cycle.
A.

The new vapor-recompression cycle could allow the column to be


operated

at

lower

pressure,

if

desired,

where

the

lower

pressure increases the relative volatility. This would allow less


reflux

to

be

needed,

therefore

less

heat

duties,

increased

production capacity, or increased product purity. As the column


vapor load capacity drops with the square root of the density, a
loss of capacity could also occur.

4 - 42

B.

The vapor recompression system can be designed to provide a


different (more or less) amount of reflux compared to the current
system. It may be that the current column's condenser and reboiler is undersized for the desired load, and would need
changing in any case.

C.

The high potential efficiency of a vapor-recompression cycle may


be desired, the heat/work ratio of this case being favorable as
compared with a conventional steam driven reboiler.

D.

The heat source (i.e. steam) used by the current column may be
needed elsewhere, or excess high pressure steam is available for
driving turbines. The vapor recompression cycle replacing the old
system may improve the overall integration of utilities in the
entire plant.

E.

The existing column may be currently operated with refrigeration


or a heat pump cycle, and conversion to a vapor recompression
cycle is not difficult and more efficient than the previous unit.

4-D-8. Conversion of an Existing Column - In the case of a conventional


column currently equipped with a normal reboiler and condenser, conversion of
the column to a vapor recompression operation will prove expensive and
difficult. A number of new items will be needed and old items replaced. Some
of the these items are:

4 - 43

A.

A new compressor, its driver, and associated control equipment


will be needed.

B.

The control system for the existing column may prove usable for
the vapor recompression column, and complete replacement needed.

C.

Sufficient space for all new equipment (condenser-reboiler,


compressor, driver, + auxiliaries) must be present.

D.

The existing reboiler and condenser will most probably not be


usable as part of the needed condenser-reboiler. A new condenserreboiler much larger than the present heat exchange equipment
will probably be needed.

E.

Auxiliary condensers or reboilers will be needed for the column


heat balance and control. However, the existing condensers and
reboilers can be kept and used for this auxiliary function.

For the case of the existing column, it may be best to put only part
(say 50%) of the overall condenser and reboilers duty on the vapor
recompression cycle. This allows much heat to be saved, but leaves the
existing reboiler and condenser in place and operating the column. Note that
an all new condenser-reboiler, compressor, and driver, will be needed for the
partial conversion use.
4-D-9 Advantages of Vapor Recompression - The advantages of vapor
recompression are:
(1)

A large amount of heat can be transferred with little work. For


example, suppose we had a heat/work ratio of 10. This means that
for every Btu of work added, we replace 10 Btu's of heat that
would otherwise be required. This can lead to overall savings
also. Assume we generate one Btu of electricity from three Btu's
of fuel heat (33% efficiency). Then overall we save 10/3 = 3.33
Btu of heat for every Btu fuel used by the vapor
4 - 44

recompression system over that of the conventional system.


(2)

The heat flow to supply the condenser or reboiler may be of


particular value. For example if the column is cold, the cooling
must be accomplished by expensive refrigeration. This is also
true at high temperatures 500F + where energy added to the
reboiler can no longer be supplied simply by steam. The vapor
recompression cycle, by being balanced, is affected only to a
limited effect by the relation of the actual temperature to the
ambient. The pressure in a vapor recompression column can be set
where desired to achieve maximum separation.

(3)

By freeing the condenser and reboiler of the desire to hold


temperature between a minimum of about lO0F to a maximum of
about 500F, the points easily reached by cooling water and
condensing steam, we can set the temperature, and therefore the
pressure, at any point we wish. This effect is of particular
importance where changing the pressure effects the relative
volatility. By operating at more favorable conditions we can
reduce the reflux requirement and therefore the heat duties. The
effect of the pressure change on the column will be to change the
wall thickness, and column diameter, the diameter falling as the
reflux is reduced, but increasing as the pressure drops. Do not
neglect the effects of pressure changes on the overall column.

4 - 45

(4)

Work energy from excess high pressure steam which is generated


for low pressure steam requirements may be available in the
overall plant balance. This energy would be very cheap if the
alternative or current practice is to wastefully let down the
steam across a valve. A steam turbine driver for the vapor
compressor can be used, giving a low work energy cost.

(5)

Electricity can be brought in from the outside to run the


compressor driver, so that large amounts of steam are not needed.
Thus the steam plant can be smaller.

(6)

The vapor recompression system uses little cooling water or steam


flow. Possible utility savings can occur as less cooling water is
discharged, and the steam, condensate, and cooling water lines
can be made smaller.

(7)

Swings in the ambient temperature and weather will have little


effect on the operation of vapor recompression.

4-D-10. Disadvantages of-Vapor Recompression - The disadvantages of vapor


recompression are:
(1)

Premium electrical or steam pressure work energy is used for


driving the compressor, and no advantage can be taken of possible
existing low value sources of waste heat to run the reboiler.

(2)

The additional cost for the compressor and its driver

4 - 46

are required.
(3)

The condenser-reboiler of vapor recompression has the overhead


and bottoms product on either side, leading to savings by having
one half of the total area for the separate condenser and
reboiler of a conventional column. This advantage is lost and
more heat exchanger surface is required for the condenserreboiler as compared to the conventional condenser and reboiler
because:
a.

The fluid used (cooling water and steam) in the reboiler


and condenser will have a much higher heat transfer
coefficient than the column fluids.

b.

The

TEX driving force for both the reboiler and condenser

will be much higher than that allowed across the condenserrebolier as its heat/work efficiency drops with increasing

T across the system.


c.

The

TEX across the condenser-reboiler causes

a loss in efficiency, therefore requiring a larger


compressor, driver, and work input. The

TEX will be

minimized to allow a smaller compressor and driver.


These items add up to the fact that the exchanger surface
required for the condenser-reboiler will probably be
significantly larger than the combined surface on the
condenser and reboiler in a conventional

4 47

column.
(4)

Auxiliary units such as extra reboilers, condensers will be


required in order to balance the heat duty and control the
column.

(5)

The mechanical complexity of the vapor compressor is high, the


system requiring more maintenance and suffering more breakdowns.

(6)

More instrumentation will be required to control the compressor


and the other auxiliary items of the vapor recompression system.

(7)

The control of the vapor recompression system is different than


that faced in an ordinary column. New methods will have to be
learned by the operating personnel.

(8)

Flexibility is lost as the column has only limited ability to


function at other than design conditions. The compressor will be
sized to be most efficient at one operating rate. Increasing the
column reflux over design will be very hard.

(9)

Altering the column for reuse to operate for a new situation will
be more difficult than with a conventional column, as the vapor
recompression system will probably need to be replaced.

(10)

Continuous auxiliary refrigeration may be required for a low


pressure column with vapor recompression that would be run at
higher temperature by a conventional distillation

4 - 48

system.
Overall, by swtiching to vapor recompression one gains energy
efficiency at the cost of greater mechanical complexity and flexibility loss.
Capital costs for vapor recompression will probably be greater than a
conventional case, but it depends on the situation and what all is taken into
account in economic changes.
4-D-11. Advantanges and Disadvantages of the Heat Pump - Heat pump driven
systems are similar to vapor recompression systems. Most of the advantages
and disadvantages are the same as compared to a vapor recompression system.
Disadvantages and advantages as compared to a vapor recompression column are:
(1)

Two separate vessels are required for the condenser and reboiler.
Also each vessel has two

T s. This could lead to as much as

four times the exchanger area being needed. Reducing this


somewhat is the fact that the heat transfer fluid used can have a
higher heat transfer coefficient. Also a better refrigeration
fluid can be used which can allow a larger

T across the

exchangers and a smaller compressor.


(2)

The advantage of the heat pump is that the compressor cannot


contaminate the distillation products. Also a reciprocating
compressor can be used. Better control and flexibility of the
column is obtained by the heat pump, similar to that of a
conventional column.

Overall, the key to use of a heat pump will be the opportunity to use a
better and isolated heat transfer fluid, against the cost of the extra heat
exchanger surface.

4 - 49

4-D-12. Guidelines for Considering Vapor Recompression - The following guides


indicate when to consider a vapor recompression system in comparison with a
conventional system for a distillation column. To actually compare the
systems, see 4-D-13.
(1)

When the column is to operate wholly in refrigeration


temperatures for both the condenser and reboiler, then vapor
recompression should always be considered.

(2)

Where the condenser temperature is expected or desired to be


below l00F, some consideration of vapor recompression should be
given if the condenser-reboiler temperatures are close, say less
than 40F.

(3)

Where the reboiler temperature is very high, +500F, and the


temperature difference is moderate (<l00F).

(4)

Cases where the condenser and reboiler temperatures are nearly


the same (<20F) so that high efficiencies can be projected.

(5)

Where some problem with supplying steam exists for a conventional


column and reasonably good efficiencies can be expected, say 3, 4
to 1 heat/work ratios.

(6)

Where water is the main fluid, with trace quantities of


contaminates being concentrated so that only a small temperature
difference is expected. Water is an excellent fluid for vapor
recompression as it is a good refrigerant and has a very high
heat transfer coefficient.

Two cases for not using vapor recompression are as follows:

4 - 50

(1)

When larger temperature differences are expected between the


condenser and reboiler.

(2)

When the column can be operated with cooling water for the
condenser and waste heat (1 ATM or less steam) for the reboiler.

4-D-13. Procedure for Vapor Recompression Evaluation - After the design and
economics are developed for a conventional column, the guidelines for
considering vapor recompression are reviewed. If vapor recompression appears
feasible, then:
(1)

Study the conventional design and find its basic utility costs.
See if refrigeration is needed, or if a high value heat source is
used. Compare this heat cost with the cost of work energy
(electricity or high pressure steam). The resulting work
cost/heat cost ratio will give a minimum heat/work ratio
aimpoint.

(2)

With the temperature and pressures used for the conventional


column, work out the ideal heat/work ratio, assuming a small
extra

TEX the reboiler-condenser, say 10F.

q
Wideal

TBL

TOV
TOV + TEX

The actual obtainable heat/work ratio should be about 50-80% of


the ideal heat/work ratio, for the given

TEX . An ideal heat/work

ratio of less than 10 at this point would be inauspicious, unless


the heat flow is expensive.
(3)

Study the effects of pressure on capacity and separation in the


column, and decide on a new column operating pressure

4 - 51

from this. The new column needs to be sized, and a new reflux
ratio assigned. Rework the ideal heat/work ratio of Part (2)
remembering to take into account the changed heat duties for the
condenser and reboiler.
(4)

Study the heat duties of the condenser and reboiler, and design a
vapor recompression system to work for this system. Place the
compressor in the overhead or bottom vapor line, and put in an
auxiliary unit for heat balancing.

(5)

Assume the actual heat to work ratios are 70% less than the ideal
heat to work ratio. In symbols, this is

qc
qc
= 0.7
W
Wideal
(6)

Find the heat transfer coefficient of the vapors and liquids


involved and size the heat exchanger for a 10OF difference.

(7)

Find the costs of heat exchanger surface, and compare this with
the capital and utility charges for the compressor and its
driver. Using the heat/work ratio of 70% ideal find the optimum

TEX to minimize the combined exchanger and compressor costs.


(8)

Add the costs for the vapor recompression unit, columns +


reboiler-condenser + compressor drive + auxilliary and using the
capital and operating costs compare these with the costs of the
conventional column with reboiler and condenser. At this point,
we should have a good idea to the expected capital and operating
costs verse a conventional system. If nearly equal or less, a
detailed study is in

4 - 52

order: guessing the previously specified column and


(9)

TEX .

Study the heat duties of the condenser and reboiler, and see how
possible changes in the feed and product states effect the
balancing. Attempt to minimize the addition of an expensive head
flow such as refrigeration or steam.

(10)

Reevaluate the design of the system made in part 4 above. Study


the auxiliary system, especially if extra refrigeration is
required.

(11)

Work out the entire system, using the actual fluids, equipment
efficiencies, and heat flows. Fix the auxiliary requirements.

(12)

With the actual system, work out its true economics. At this
point, the superior system, vapor recompression or conventional
column should clear.
Now we can design throughly to obtain the optimum system.

(13)

Re-examine the column pressure, which sets the absolute


temperatures in the overhead and bottoms liquid. Arrange so the
pressure is optimized between column costs, and auxiliary costs.
Too cold temperatures may be avoided to avoid too large
diameters, to prevent the requirement of special materials of
construction, and to prevent large use of inefficient auxiliary
refrigeration.

(14)

Optimize the heat exchanger surface area with the resulting


compressor driver size, using the actual heat/work ratios. A
standard compression ratio and gas flow may be desired,

4 - 53

if so, adjust the exchanger surface accordingly.


(15)

The desired flexibility of the column should be examined, and the


auxiliary reboilers and condenser supplied accordingly. The
desirability of operating with other than specified conditions
should be evaluated.

(16)

The control scheme and its necessary instrumentation should be


designed.

(17)

The plant personnel should be contacted for their opinions on the


proposed system.

(18)

Final calculations should be made and the economics presented to


management.

4-D-14. Example Propane-Propylene Splitter - The following example is


presented to demonstrate the mathematics involved in working a vapor
recompression column. The distillation column, feed, splits, and reflux are
all assumed and should not be considered to reflect an actual column.
4-D-14.1. Situation Statement - A propane-propylene splitter is assumed. The
overhaul product is assumed 99% + pure propylene, the bottoms product is 50%
propylene, 50% propane. The feed, on a 100 mole basis, is 80 moles propylene,
20 moles propane. This results in a 75% recovery. The bottoms product will
probably be recycled back to another splitter, but this is unimportant. The
distillation column was arbitrarily assumed to have a reflux rate of 6.67, or
400 moles liquid per 100 moles feed. The number of column trays is of no
importance. The column pressure was set at 40 psia top, 45 psia bottom.

4 - 54

The feed is a saturated liquid, the overhead will be taken as vapor, bottom
product as liquid. The compressor efficiency is assumed 85%, electric drive
motor of 90% efficiency. In the first example, the overheads will be assumed
to be compressed. A

TEX of 20F was set for the condenser-reboiler.

A number of minor assumptions were made to simplify the problem. The


overhead will be treated as 100% propylene. The bottoms vapor pressure and
enthalpies were assumed to be ideal additions of the two components.
Equimolar overflow was assumed from the distillation column top to bottom.
Pressure drops through pipes and exchanger equipment was ignored. Subcooling
the liquid leaving the condenser, and superheating the vapor leaving the
reboiler side were ignored. Heat flows to the ambient surroundings were
ignored.
Note the low pressure of the column (40 psia) was set because the
relative volatility of the propylene-propane set increases from approximately
1.09 at 300 psia to 1.18 at 40 psia. Slightly higher pressures might be more
favorable on overall economics.
The vapor recompression example can be seen in Figure 4-13. The numbers
shown in Table 4-1 are for a basis of 100 lb. moles. These numbers represent
the assumed conditions in the problem statement.
4-D-14.2 Solution - Since the pressure at the top is 40 psia, the bubble
point of pure propylene corresponds to a temperature of - 9F.

4 - 55

The pressure at the bottom is 45 psia for the 50 - 50 mixture. After solving
by iteration using the average of propylene and propane pure pressures, we
get a bubble point temperature of 2.8F at the bottom of the column. The
enthalpies of the various streams (pure propylene and mixed propylenepropane) at these temperatures and pressures are found from an enthalpy
chart. The enthalpies of the propylene-propane mixture are found by assuming
each component is separate and multiplying by its mole fraction.
Much information about the streams can be seen by inspection. The top
of the column is at - 9F, 40 psia, 100% propylene, so the reflux liquid to
this (stream 4) is at this temperature, pressure. The overhead vapor stream 2
splits into streams 12 and stream 6. Stream 10, leaving the flash tank, is in
equilibrium with stream 4 so it is also at -9F, 40 psia. The bottom of the
column is at 2.8F, 45 psia, 50-50 propylene-propane, this bottoms liquid is
stream 3. Streams 9, 13, and 7 come directly from the bottoms stream
therefore they have the same temperature-pressure data. The vapor reflux at
the bottom is stream 5, which is also at 2.8F, 45 psia, 50-50 mixture. This
stream is a combination of streams 11 and 15. Note the bottom reboilers
merely change the bottoms liquid to vapor, without changing the temperature
or pressure.
At this point the key items missing are the pressure of the vapor
leaving the compressor, the mass flow of the flash vapor, and the mass flow
to the bottoms liquid to the condenser-reboiler. From our problem statement
we know that

TEX to be 20F. The

4 - 56

reboiler side temperature is 2.8F. Therefore, the condenser side temperature


of condensation must be 2.8F + 20F = 22.8F. For this temperature we
receive a condensing pressure of 72.4 psia. As the liquid leaves the
condenser-reboiler at the 22.8F we know that stream 8 is at 72.4 psia,
22.8F.
Stopping at this point to work out the ideal heat/work quantities we
find:

qc = R (hout hin) = 400(3918 11311) = 2,957,200 Btu


qh = V(hout hin) = 460(11757 4296) = 3,432,060 Btu reboiler
Tc = 9oF = 451o R , Th = 22.8 = 482.8o R
qc
Tc
451
=
=
= 14.18
Wideal
Th Tc
31.8
Wideal =

qc
= 208.547 Btu
14.18

Ideally, extra heat input will be needed for qc.


Accounting for the known 85% efficiency compressor, 90% motor the best
that can be achieved is,

Wmin =

Wideal
= 272.610 Btu
(.85)(.90)

qc
= 14.18 x .85 x .9 = 10.85
W
The refrigeration cycle is less efficient than the Carnot cycle, so
more work than this will be used.
Returning to the problem, we need to perform the flash tank
calculation. We know the pressures and temperature of the involved streams 4,
8, & 10, and the flowrate (400) of stream 4.
Let

M = flowrate of stream l0 so;


4 57

400 + M: flow of stream 8


enthalpy in = enthalpy out
(400 + M) (4507) = M (11,311) + 400 (3918)
M = 34.63 moles
Therefore stream 10 is 34.63 lb moles, stream 8 is 434.63
Stream 12 = Stream 2 + Stream 10 - Stream 6
Stream 12 = 460 + 34.63 - 60 = 434.63
At this point we know the flows in the overhead stream. Now we need to
find the compressor work and energy added.
Work Calculation
For propylene gas at about OF, Cp = 8.8 Btu/lb mole

k =

cp
cp R

= 1.29

for -9F, 40 psia, Z, the compressibility factor = 0.96

V1 =

ZRT
= 116.1 Ft3 / lb mole
P

k 1
= 0.22481
k
P2
72.4
=
= 1.81
P1
40
1 Btu = 778 ft lb
Ideal Work Equation for Compression

P k 1

k
V1 = (
)P1 V1 ( 2 ) k 1
k 1
P1

(40 x 144)(116.1)
1.810.22481 1
(0.22481)(778)

= 545.54 Btu / lb mole


Work done by compressor at 85% eff.

Electrical Work supplied to motor


4 58

WI
= 641.8 Btu / lb mole
.85

Wcomp
0.9

= 713.12 Btu / lb mole

Note that the compressor inefficiencies are counted in the exit gas
enthalpy, the motor loss is not.
Enthalpy of gas leaving compressor (Stream 14)
Enthalpy in + compressor work = 11311 + 641.8 = 11,953 Btu/lb mole
For a pressure of 72.4 psia this enthalpy corresponds to a temperature
of 51F.
Total work electrical energy
309,946 Btu

overall : 434.63 X 713.12 =


heat work ratios, actual

qc
2,957,200
=
=
W
309,946

9.54 Btu heat/Btu energy

qc
qc
9.54
/
=
x 100 = 67.3%
W
Wideal
14.18
Extra losses, over compressor & motor inefficiencies
9.54/10.85 = 87.9%, 100 - 87.9 = 12.1%
The load across the condenser-reboiler, is
qc = flow (enthalpy out-enthalpy in)
= 434.63 (4507-11,953) = -3,236,255 Btu
qh = -qc =

3,236,255 Btu

The reboiler side duty must match the condenser side, so


qh = flow (enthaply out- enthaply in)
3,236,255 = flow (11757 - 4296)
flow (stream 9 and 11) = 433.76
The flow of stream 15 is equal to stream 5 - stream 11
Stream 15 = 460 - 433.76 = 26.24 lb mole
Flow of 13 = Flow of 15.

4 - 59

At this point we should note that qh for the total reboiling = 3,432,060
Btu, qh = 3,236,255 Btu so that we have to add energy in the small auxiliary
reboiler. The difference will be made up in the small reboiler as is
expected, flow (13,15)
(enthaply out-enthaply in) =
26.24 (11757-4296) =

195,776 Btu Auxiliary

Note: 3,432,060 - 3,236,255 = 195,800 Btu or the same.


Figure 4-14 and table 4-2 show the results of the complete example.
The energy costs of the column are essentially 0 for heat and

309,946
= 3,099 Btu/lb mole feed split for electric power.
100
4-D-15. Work Problem Propane-Propylene Splitter with Bottoms
Vapor Compression. In our example of the propane-propylene splitter we worked
on the case of compression of the overhead bottom. Work the same column using
the same assumptions but with bottoms vapor compression. Note that a
desuperheater is added in the vapor return. This is used merely for
mathematical purposes, in a real column the superheated vapors would be
returned directly to the column. The starting point is shown by figure 4-15
and Table 4-3.
To save time, the obvious relationships and enthalpies have been
included on Figure 4-16 and Table 4-4. These values are the simple result of
stream equalities, and the enthalpies which are read from the chart.
The problem will be to find the work required for this case, and compare
overall results with that of the overhead recompression example. The solution is
found in Appendix 7-D.
Data needed k = 1.22, Z = 0.96
Figures 4-17, 4-18, 4-19 and 4-20.
4 - 60

4-E. IMPROVING CONTROL OF DISTILLATION COLUMNS


A column may be equipped with simple conventional instruments or
equipped with instruments that are computer controlled. The additional cost
of sophisticated computers control systems must be economically justified to
management for installation on new columns or retrofitted on existing
columns. Savings may be from lower energy costs, higher production rates,
lower capital requirements for intermediate storage between columns, less off
specification product, etc.
Conventional instruments cannot control at optimum conditions because
they cannot take corrective action until the variable being controlled has
moved from its setpoint. Also, the optimum operating conditions depend upon
the feed rate and feed composition. Since the control points must be changed
to new optimum conditions, the operator needs assistance in deciding these
changes. A computer can calculate the new setpoints and adjust the
controllers automatically. Management is generally reluctant to make major
expenditures to retrofit process units with these process control systems,
based upon economic guesstimates by engineers on the pay back.
An alternate to this reluctance is to use the Distributed Process
Control Systems (DPCS). The distributed control concept means that a single
failure of a control cannot affect more than a limited area of the process.
Thus, it is possible to install a DPCS by installing the system in steps,
each step being justified economically.
The benefits of microprocessor control of columns are discussed in a
recent article by M.R. Skrokov (Appendix 7-C). In addition to design
engineering savings in manpower, the operating costs of the plants are
reduced by the better control. However, the availability of control systems
using microprocessors is
4 - 61

claimed to be currently limited and appears aimed at total plant operation.


Thus, microprocessing equipment for controlling single column may not be
commercially available. Mr. Skrokov recommends that the instrument manufacturers supplement their large multiprocessing systems with small dedicated
microprocessors. This observation could be the reason why small companies
will be unable to use the economic benefits of microprocessors until small
systems are available.
Let us assume a distillation column with distillates and bottom
products. Component A has a value of $.30 per pound in the distillate, but no
value in bottom product. Similarly, component B has a value of $.20 per pound
in the bottoms, but no value in the distillate. How do you operate the column
assuming a restraint of minimum purity? Dr. Latour, in his paper presented at
the ISA Conference in Houston, May 23, 1978, developed this problem. Figure
4-21 shows a plot of the value of the products versus column reflux ratio.
The maximum profit occurs at a reflux flow rate where the net recovered value
peaks on 24. The lowest energy cost is not at this point, but at the
specification restraint point a reflux flow of 13. When considering both
profit and energy usage, the column should be controlled at a reflux flow
rate between the maximum profit point and the specification restraint.
Exceeding the reflux flow at the maximum profit point wastes energy.
If the value of the products from the column is fixed, the only
restraint being the minimum specification, then the maximum profit and
minimum energy usage are both at the reflux flow rate where the specification
restraint is located.
At the ISA meeting in Houston, in May 1978, Mr. D.E. Lupfer presented a
paper on manipulating the distillation column pressure to increase production

4 - 62

and save energy. Operation of columns at the lowest pressure without flooding
the column or overloading the condenser, had been practiced by Mr. Lupfer on
hundreds of columns. Shinskey (Appendix 7-C), Skrokov (Appendix 7-C), and
Fauth and Shinskey (Appendix 7-C) have also discussed the benefits of
operating the columns pressure as low as feasible. In the Fauth article, the
floating pressure control was part of an advanced control system for a
typical gas plant depropanizer. Of the total cost reduction of $1269 per day
by using the control system, $345 was attributed to energy savings by the
floating pressure control systems.
The floating control systems operation is discussed in the Shinskey and
Fauth article. Although the cost of the instrumentation for floating the
pressure is low, column temperatures can no longer be used for control
because they will vary with pressure. Thus, other control devices such as
analyzers, or pressure compensated temperature measurements are required.
Shinskey made the following comment in his article on Control Systems Can
Save Energy:
At first, operators are skeptical of floating-pressure control they
feel more comfortable with constant pressures and temperatures. When its contribution to energy savings is pointed out, they are generally willing to try
it. After a brief trial period, they learn that it does not interfere with
quality control, and even increases production capacity; soon it becomes
accepted. Yet at each installation and with each new application, the concept
of floating specifications needs to be sold again.
Benefits as high as a 30% reduction in energy usage are reported by
Shinskey, so the floating pressure control system deserves serious
consideration.

4 - 63

4-F. REDUCING HEAT LOSSES USING INSULATION


The desired amount of insulation on a distillation column depends on the
individual situation and varies at parts of the column. For example, suppose we
have a distillation column with a top temperature 180F, bottoms 230F, and are
using cooling water for the condenser and 40 psig steam for the reboiler. Then the
insulation required on the reboiler and bottom section should be based on the value
of 40 psig steam, as a Btu lost will have to be replaced by more steam. On the
other hand, insulation on the condenser will save no energy, and in fact cost money
as the Btus saved by insulation must be removed by cooling water.
A different situation could occur for a column that operates at 400F bottom,
300F top, using 600 psig steam in the reboiler, producing 25 psig steam in the
condenser. For this case, insulating the column bottoms and reboiler will save
valuable 600 psig steam so much is needed. Insulation on the upper section of the
column is also valuable as saved heat generates useful 25 psig steam in the
condenser. So this entire column needs insulation.
In the case of a column operating in the refrigerated condition, insulation
must be used on the condenser and top portion of the column to prevent heat flowing
into the column, which would then have to be removed by expensive refrigeration. If
the reboiler and bottom sections of the column are also cold insulation will also
be required as these sections are part of the coolant cycle.
Insulation may be required for reasons other than energy savings. Insulation
on the column will prevent the column from being affected by swings in the weather,
changing the heat transfer rate at the tower surface. For cold columns, prevention
of ice condensation may be desired. There are OSHA limits on the maximum
permissible bare metal temperature for personnel protection. Also, if located
indoors in a small specialty operation, insulation could improve the general workplace conditions.
4 - 64

TABLE 4-1
PROCESS DATA FOR COLUMN IN FIGURE 4-13

Stream Number

Vapor, lb moles

460

460

60

Liquid, lb moles

100

500

400

40

Pressure, psig

43

40

45

40

45

40

45

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.8

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.2

0.5

0.5

0.5

Temperature, deg F

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb


Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb
Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole
Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole
Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4 - 65

FIGURE 4-2
PROCESS RESULTS FOR COLUMN IN FIGURE 4-14

Stream Number

Vapor, lb moles

460

460

60

Liquid, lb moles

100

500

400

40

434.63

Temperature, deg F

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

22.8

Pressure, psig

43

40

45

40

45

40

45

72.4

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.8

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.2

0.5

0.5

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb

97

268.2

97.1

93.1

270.5

268.8

97.1

107.1

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb

101

102.2

276.1

102.2

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole

4082

11,311

4086

3918

11,383

11,311

4086

4507

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole

4454

4507

12,132

4507

Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4156

11,311

4296

3918

11,757

11,311

4296

4507

Stream Number

10

11

12

13

14

15

Vapor, lb moles

34.63

433.76

434.63

434.63

26.24

Liquid, lb moles

433.76

26.24

Temperature, deg F

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

51

2.8

Pressure, psig

45

40

45

40

45

72.4

45

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb

97.1

268.8

270.6

258.8

97.1

284

270.5

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb

102.2

275.1

102.2

270.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole

4086

11,311

11,383

11,311

4086

11,953

11,757

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole

4507

12,132

4507

Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4296

11,311

11,757

11,311

4295

11,953

11,757

4 - 66

TABLE 4-3
PROCESS DATA FOR COLUMN IN FIGURE 4-15

Stream Number

Vapor, lb moles

460

460

60

Liquid, lb moles

100

500

400

40

Temperature, deg F

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

Pressure, psig

43

40

45

40

45

40

45

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.8

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.2

0.5

0.5

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb


Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb
Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole
Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole
Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4 - 67

TABLE 4-4
PROCESS DATA FOR SPLITTER IN FIGURE 4-15

Stream Number

Vapor, lb moles

460

460

60

400

Liquid, lb moles

100

500

400

40

Temperature, deg F

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

Pressure, psig

43

40

45

40

45

40

45

40

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.8

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.2

0.5

0.5

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb

97

268.8

97.1

93.1

270.5

268.8

97.1

268.8

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb

101

102.2

275.1

102.2

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole

4082

11,311

4086

3918

11,383

11,311

4086

11,311

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole

4454

4507

12,132

4507

Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4156

11,311

4295

3918

11,757

11,311

4296

11,311

Stream Number

10

11

12

13

14

Vapor, lb moles

Liquid, lb moles

Temperature, deg F

2.8

Pressure, psig

45

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb

0
2.8

2.8

2.8

45

45

45

45

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

97.1

97.1

97.1

270.5

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb

102.2

102.2

102.2

275.1

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole

4086

4086

4086

11,383

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole

4507

4507

4507

12,132

Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4296

4296

4296

11,757

4 - 68

TABLE 4-5
NOMENCLATURE OF SYMBOLS USED IN SECTION 4
NOMENCLATURE FOR SECTION 4-B
k

- Reflux ratio R/Rm.

- Number of trays in the column.

- Column pressure in ATM.

- Reflux rate

Rm

- Minimum reflux rate

- Separation factor as given by

(xDLK )(xBHK )
(xBLK )(xDHK )

- Concentration, mole fraction

- Murphee plate efficiency

- Relative volatility (light key to heavy key)

Subscripts
D

- Distillate

- Bottoms

Sub-subscripts
LK

- Light key

HK

- Heavy key

NOMENCLATURE FOR SECTION 4-C


B

- Bottoms product, flowrae

BV

- Bottoms product flowate, taken as a vapor

cp

- Heat capacity at constant pressure

cv

- Heat capacity at constant volume

4 - 69

- Distillate, overhead product, flowrate.

DL

- Distillate product flowrate, taken as a liquid

- Efficiency, Carnot cycle.

m , p - Efficiencies of real process as compared to the Carnot cycle,


p causes inefficiencies to result as heat in the process,
m causes no heat addition.
h

- Enthalpy, Btu per pound or pound mole.

- Specific heat ratio,

cp

cv
PBL

- Pressure of the bottoms liquid .

PC

- Pressure at which the cold side boils.

Ph

- Pressure at which the hot side condenses.

POV

- Pressure of the overhead vapor.

- Heat flow, between two substances.

qc

- Heat flow out or to a cold, constant temperature source or the


total condensing duty for the distillation column.

qc

- Heat flow from the condensing side of the condenser-reboiler in


a vapor recompression system.

qh

- The heat flow to or from a hot source, or the heat duty of the
reboiler in a distillation column.

qh

- The heat flow from the boiling side of the condenser-reboiler


in a vapor recompression system.

- Reflux ratio of the column, reflux liquid ratio to distillate


product.

4 - 70

PV

- The reflux vapor from the column bottom to provide

R reflux at the top.


TBL

- Bubble point temperature of the bottoms liquid.

Tc

- Temperature of the cold source.

Th

- Temperature of the hot source.

TOV

- Bubble point temperature of the overload vapor.

- Volume of gas, ft3.

- Work, work energy input into process.

WIDEAL

- Work needed by a Carnot cycle to move a heat flow qc to the hot


sink.

- Compressibility factor.

Hvap - Heat of vaporization


TEX TEX

- Temperature difference driving force across the condenserreboiler.

4 - 71

FIGURE 4-1
HEAT AVAILABILITY AND REQUIREMENTS FOR CRUDE TOWER

Temperature, F
700

600

500

400

300

200

100
0

100

200
300
400
500
Enthalpy X Mass Rate, M Btu/hr
GO Product
Residuum
Crude

4 - 72

Overhead
Reflux

600

700

FIGURE 4-2
HEAT CASCADING DISTILLATION TRAIN

4 73

FIGURE 4-3
SPLIT TOWER ARRANGEMENT

4 - 74

FIGURE 4-4
McCABE-THIELE DIAGRAM FOR SYSTEM WITH INTERMEDIATE CONDENSER AND REBOILER

4 - 75

FIGURE 4-5
CIRCULATING REFLUX OR PUMPAROUND TOWER

4 - 76

FIGURE 4-6
EXAMPLE OF CONVENTIONAL
DISTILLATION COLUMN,
NO SIDE DRAW

4 - 77

FIGURE 4-7
VAPOR RECOMPRESSION

4 78

FIGURE 4-8
EXAMPLE OF HEAT PUMP
SYSTEM

4 79

FIGURE 4-9
THE REFRIGERATION AND CARNOT CYCLES

4 80

FIGURE 4-10
COLUMN USING VAPOR RECOMPRESSION

4 81

FIGURE 4-11
HOT COLUMNS WITH VAPOR RECOMPRESSION
CASE IA, EXCESS CONDENSER DUTY, HEAT IS EXPENSIVE, COOLING IS CHEAP

CASE IB EXCESS REBOILER DUTY, HEAT IS EXPENSIVE, COOLING IS CHEAP

4 82

FIGURE 4-12
REFRIGERATED COLUMNS WITH VAPOR RECOMPRESSION
CASE IIA EXCESS CONDENSER DUTY, COOLING IS EXPENSIVE, HEAT IS CHEAP

CASE IIB, EXCESS REDOILER DUTY, COOLING IS EXPENSIVE, HEAT IS CHEAP

4 83

FIGURE 4-13
PROPANE PROPYLENE SPLITTER

4 84

FIGURE 4-14
RESULTS OF EXAMPLE OF PROPANE PROPYLENE SPLITTER

4 85

FIGURE 4-15
SPLITTER WITH BOTTOMS VAPOR COMPRESSION

4 86

FIGURE 4-16
SPLITTER OF FIGURE 4-15 WITH DATA

4 87

FIGURE 4 - 17
VAPOR PRESSURE OF OLEFIN HYDROCARBONS

4 88

FIGURE 4-18
VAPOR PRESSURE OF NORMAL PARAFIN HYDROCARBONS

4 89

FIGURE 4-19
ENTHALPY TEMPERATURE DIAGRAM FOR PROPYLENE

Enthalpy - btu/lb
350
300
250

Saturated vapor

200
150
Saturated liquid
100
50
0
-100

-50

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

Temperature - deg F
Pressures - psia
Sat
0
100
200

300
400
500
600
4 90

700
800
900
1000

1500
2000
3000
4000

400

FIGURE 4-20
ENTHALPY TEMPERATURE DIAGRAM FOR PROPANE

Enthalpy - btu/lb
450
400
350
Saturated vapor
300
250
200
Saturated liquid
150
100
50
0
-100

100

200

300

400

Temperature - deg F
Pressures - psia
Sat
0
100
200

300
400
500
600
4 91

700
800
900
1000

1500
2000
3000
5000

500

FIGURE 4-21
CONTROL OF COLUMN REFLUX TO MAXIMIZE PROFIT AND ENERGY CONSUMPTION

4 - 92

SECTION 5
ECONOMICS

In a free enterprise system, the primary motive for individuals investing in


a business is to make a profit. Thus, the managers of manufacturing facilities must
base their business decisions primarily upon profit, or the business does not
continue to prosper. Business decisions are also influenced by laws being enforced
by regulatory agencies. Although the politicians are continually active in the
controlling of the cost, use, distribution, etc. of energy, business decisions on
energy usage can still be based upon the profit motive.
Two approaches were discussed in sections 3 and 4 on how to reduce the amount
of energy consumed per unit of production. In section 3, the possible changes in
startup, shutdown, and operating procedures that could be made were discussed.
These changes did not require any additional investment of monies in the form of
equipment or materials. The only costs incurred are the manhours plant people
expended in investigating, analyzing, and changing the operating procedures. If the
people involved are the supervisors and superintendents the manhour costs are
minimized. These people should be continually upgrading their operations as one of
their job duties.
In your data collection investigation, you may find that the measurements of
energy (electric meter, gas meter, fuel oil meter) for each process may not exist.
Then, expenditures for monitoring equipment are in order for your energy study and
and for the accounting department. With energy costs increasing, accounting records
should be more accurate. Estimates of energy usage should be replaced with the true
energy production costs of the products. This will enable management to make

5 - 1

sound decisions when energy savings ideas are suggested.


In section 4, the possible ways to cut energy usage by changes in plant
equipment were covered. When new equipment is required, some existing equipment may
have to be scrapped. All these decisions require additional investment in the
plant. Unless this investment can be justified from the profit viewpoint, it should
not be done.
5-A. DEFINITION OF ECONOMIC TERMS
Economic terms such as profit, capital, fixed costs, etc. have been mentioned
in this manual without defining. If plant people are to get involved in energy
saving projects, they need to understand these terms and have a working knowledge
of economics that relates to energy. The following economic discussion will attempt
to emphasize the energy aspects. The idea of the term, "investment equivalence of
energy," will also be developed.
5-A-1. Profit.
Profit is the excess of revenues of products over their cost. It is
also the compensation to investors for the assumption of the risk in the
business enterprise. For example, $10,000 placed in a savings bank is
protected by the federal government from loss and can earn approximately 5%
interest. If this same amount of money had been invested in a business
enterprise, there is no guarantee by society that the money will be recovered
by you. It depends upon how successfully the business operates. Since there
is a greater risk, the risk factor suggests that your business profits should
be designed to achieve better than 5% return on your money. Money returned to
you comes from the profits generated by the business. But would you invest
money in energy savings if it caused your expenses to increase

5 - 2

and profits to decrease just to save energy? Thus, management should have
economic guidelines to evaluate energy savings proposals.
5-A-2. Net Back.
The definition of net back depends upon your companys accounting
procedures. It may be defined as the total price of products sold to your
customers less all the transportation costs to deliver the product from the
plant to the customers. Another definition is: Instead of subtracting out all
the transportation costs, use the part of the transportation costs that your
company pays that exceeds the cost of transportation from the nearest
competitor to the customer. Net back is also considered as the total price of
products sold to your customers less all selling and transportation costs. At
the plant site, the operating people have no control over transportation and
selling costs, so for your plant's economic decisions, the last definition
seems best.
5-A-3. Depreciation.
Depreciation is the reduction in value of physical assets (i.e. plant
equipment due to physical deterioration, technological advances, economic
changes, etc.) that leads to retirement of the physical asset. For tax
purposes, depreciation is different from true physical deterioration in
determining if the additional equipment can be purchased and installed for
energy savings and be attractive to management. Let us assume you estimate
the company must buy $100,000 in plant installed equipment for your energy
saving idea. The company must use its money to make the installation. It has
converted capital as money to capital as equipment. When this equipment is
operated, it deteriorates from use. Your personal car does the

5 - 3

same thing. When you try to resell it or trade the car in, its value has been
reduced. Additional money must be supplied to buy a newer equivalent car. The
money deposited in a savings bank stays the same, but the money represented
by investments in equipment (car) disappears as the equipment is used and
ages.
In the business world, a company recovers this loss in capital money by
pricing its product to compensate for this disappearance. If the bank
returned only half of your money deposited in their bank, but did give you 5%
interest per year on your deposit, your decision would be to not deposit it
there. For example, if $10.000 was deposited at 5% in a bank for four years,
you receive $500 each year in interest or 4 x 500 = 2000, but you are
returned only $5000 of your $10,000 deposit. You now have $7,000 or a $3,000
loss. Would a company be in business long if it were unable to charge enough
for its product to maintain its capital (money or equipment) assets? For tax
purposes, the Internal Revenue Service recognizes depreciation as a cost. The
IRS has set guidelines on the life of the capital equipment. Various
accounting methods distribute cost over the official life. Note that under
the current inflationary, economic conditions, the replacement cost of
equipment is much higher than the depreciation recovered.
If the Internal Revenue makes a company depreciate a specific piece of
equipment over a ten year period, but the equipment is still installed and in
service after the ten years, what penalty does the company pay? There is no
penalty because the accounting sheets will no longer show the equipment, but
the company can continue to use it.

5 - 4

If your energy saving proposal requires the removal of equipment from


the plant that still has say five more years of depreciation on it, how does
the accountant handle this? An example will illustrate the procedure. Assume
the equipment originally cost $10,000, $8,000 of depreciation had been taken,
and this equipment was sold for $1,500. The book value was $10,000 - $8,000
or $2,000. It was sold for $1,500 or a $500 loss on the books. Thus, the
Internal Revenue Service allows the company to consider this a loss in sales
revenue. If the company sold the equipment for $2,500, the gain was $500 and
the sales revenues would be increased by $500.
5-A-4. Investment Tax Credit.
The federal government may attempt to stimulate economic activity by
permitting tax deduction equal to some percentage of a plants new investment
in equipment. How is this a benefit? Maybe, a proposed processing unit is not
economically attractive because it does not generate sufficient profits. If
the federal government allows less tax money to go to the government, more
money is retained by the company. The proposed venture may now be attractive.
Presently, an investment tax of 10% is allowed.
5-A-5. Fixed Costs.
Fixed costs are defined as those costs which do not depend on the
production rate of the processing unit. For example, a fixed cost of
$1,000,000 each year means this cost has the same value whether the process
produced 50% of its yearly operating capacity, or 100% of its yearly
operating capacity. Examples of fixed costs are rents, property taxes,
insurance, maintenance labor, repair parts, and operating labor.

5 - 5

5-A-6. Variable Costs.


Variable costs are manufacturing costs that vary directly with volume
of production. Examples are chemical materials used in the process and the
utilities used. Utilities include fuels, electricity, steam, and cooling
water.
Although costs are usually considered either fixed or variable,
sometimes a fixed cost could have some elements of a variable cost, and vice
versa. For example operating labor is generally considered a fixed cost. At
75%, 85% or 100% of operating capacity, the processing unit requires the same
number of operators and supervisors. Maybe at 40% of capacity, the company
can operate the unit ten days and shut down for four days without affecting
other operations. Operating labor costs have been reduced by an incremental
drop of 4/14 x 100 or 29%. Operating costs take on a variable cost aspect.
5-A-7. Cash Flow.
Cash flow is the difference between actual cash that comes into the
plant and the actual cash that leaves. This cash is primarily in the form of
checks. Cash generated from selling product is returned to the plant. Cash
expended for paying wages, fringe benefits, utilities, taxes, raw materials,
operating supplies, etc. leaves the plant.
5-A-8. Discounted Cash Flow (D.C.F.)
An investment is usually evaluated by the discount cash flow method
when payments are made to construct the facility at the beginning of a period
followed by varying returns over the life of the project. It takes

5 - 6

into account the time value of money. For example, if a company had the
following two processes with a life of two years to consider:

Investment

Process 1

Process 2

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

Cash

1st year

900,000

lO0,O00

Generated

2nd year

200,000

1,000,000

TOTAL

$1,100,000

$1,100,000

Which one would you select? Wouldn't you want the cash returned as early as
possible? The cash of $900,000 in Process 1 could be reinvested in a new
process during the second year, while Process 2 is finally generating the
cash to invest in the third year. Thus, money has a time value. When the
economic life is longer (say 9 years), the decision may not be apparent and
thus a mathematical computation is made based upon the amount of the
investment that is not returned at the end of each year during its estimated
economic life. Your accounting or engineering department should be able to
perform these calculations. Management will probably require a detailed
evaluation which is placed on a standard form for review and approval.
5-A-9. Return on Investment (R.O.I.)
This is the ratio of the yearly profits averaged over the life of the
investment to the original investment. The original investment includes
working capital. In the example under Discounted Cash Flow let us assume
each process made $50,000/1,000,000 x 100 = 5% each year. Over the life of
the processes, they generated $100,000 in profit and recovered the $1,000,000
in the investment before the processes became technically obsolete and were
torn down.

5 - 7

When we inspect the two methods of determining whether to invest in a


process, we realize that the R.O.I. showed both processes equally attractive.
Since the D.C.F. method included the time value of money, it proved Process 1
to be more attractive. Although both methods are generally included for
management to decide what to do, the D.C.F. method is more significant.
5-B.

THE CONCEPT OF INVESTMENT EQUIVALENCE TO SAVE ENERGY


Plant people need an easy way to cull out energy saving ideas so that

valuable manpower will only be expended on economically reasonable ideas. Your


management can give to plant people the dollar values that can be spent to buy and
install equipment that will save a unit of each type of energy. For example,
management says you can invest up to $800 to save a continuous kilowatt demand of
electricity by removing a pump as a result of revising the piping system. The cost
of the change is estimated at $6,000. You can invest up to (20 KWHr/hr)(800) or
$16,000. Thus, you readily conclude your idea is viable and should be presented to
management for action.
When management studies the idea, they will perform more precise
calculations. For example, the depreciated value of the equipment being disposed of
may be $5,000. This is a loss. Thus the total cost is not $6,000, but $6,000 +
$5,000 or $11,000. There is also a loss in production during the period of removing
old equipment and adding the new piping. When the production unit is operating at
the maximum economic rate, management may postpone any changes until demand drops
off and any loss in production can be recovered. Since these type of decisions are
the responsibility of management, the concept of having guidelines for the
operating people to initiate ideas that have a good chance to be accepted is very
important.

5 - 8

Management should be able to give you investment equivalents for energy


savings for the various utility services in the plant. Examples are natural gas,
fuel oil, coal, electricity, steam without condensate return, steam with condensate
return, compressed air, and cooling water. In some plants, steam may be available
at various pressure levels. Your accounting system should have considered that
steam has more value, the greater the steam pressure at which it is available.
Thus, usage of 1,000 lbs/hr of 600 psig steam is more expensive than 1000 lbs/hr of
30 psig steam. This should be reflected in the investment equivalents for the
various steam pressure levels.
When accounting determines the various investment equivalents for saving
energy, it has to make certain assumptions. It has to forecast energy costs over
the period of the life of the investment, estimate how long the equipment operates
each year, income tax rates, life of the investment, etc. The discounted cash flow
method will probably be preferred over the return on investment method because of
the changes in costs of energy with time. Investment equivalent values must also be
periodically updated because of the changing economic and regulating conditions.
5-C. ECONOMIC INTERPRETATIONS FOR ENERGY SAVINGS
Let us first examine an ideal production unit. Although almost all actual
plant processes in the real world do not behave economically as an ideal plant,
some process units can be approximated by the ideal unit. The following assumptions
are characteristic of an ideal process:
1. Costs are either fixed or variable.
2. The efficiency of the process unit does not change with the production
rate.
3. The selling price of the product does not change.

5 - 9

Let us assume the process unit has a rated design capacity of 10,000,000 lbs
per year. Fixed costs are $500,000 per year, variable costs .10 per ton and selling
price of $.225 per lb. Figure 5-1 is a graph of the economics of this process
showing the revenues and the costs to produce the product. Figure 5-2 shows the
effect of production rate on profits for this ideal process.
Referring to Figure 5-1, the fixed costs (FC) are shown as a horizontal line
since fixed costs do not vary with production. Variable costs are dependent upon
production and the curve is a straight line increasing with production at the rate
of $.10 per lb. The total cost curve is the sum of TC and VC. It is still a
straight line, but displaced from zero by $500,000. Since the revenues are $.225
per lb, the revenue curve is straight and rises at the rate of $.225 per lb
produced (sold).
Although profits and losses are shown shaded in Figure 5-1, Figure 5-2 gives
a better picture. The break even point is the production point where there is no
profit or losses. What is this production tonnage in Figures 5-1 and 5-2?
In the real world, the TR curve is not a straight line. Revenues from the
customers may vary with location from the plant or sales can increase if the
selling price decreases.
Fixed costs in the real world may vary with production. For example, at
production, the unit may operate five out of seven days so labor is reduced and
maintenance costs decrease. At high production rates, additional labor may be
added. Greater costs are incurred during a scheduled maintenance shutdown in
returning the process back in to operation faster.

5 - 10

Variable costs may not be the same per lb of product because raw material
costs may increase if yield (lbs of product per lbs of raw material) decreases as
production exceeds design conditions. Figure 5-3 shows an example of a real world
process unit.
5-D. STEAM ECONOMICS
Steam may be produced from boilers within a plant or obtained from a process
that produces steam with the heat generated during the reaction steps. The value of
the steam depends upon the fixed and variable costs to produce and deliver. In the
special case of all steam generated from a process, fuel is not required. In this
case, the equivalent investment to save fuel for steam generated from a process has
little meaning. This steam should be used as efficiently as possible and should be
used before steam from regular boilers is used.
If the steam condensate from exchangers is not contaminated, it has energy
value due to its hot temperature and because it does not need boiler water feed
treatment (an energy consuming step). Thus, return of condensate has an energy
investment equivalence.
In section 4-D-5.1, the Carnot cycle was reviewed and compared with heat
pumps or vapor compression systems on distillation columns. A Carnot cycle
determines the maximum fraction of heat that can be converted to work. In the real
world, thermal and mechanical inefficiencies plus non ideal fluids prevent
attainment of the Carnot efficiency. Even so, the maximum utilization of energy can
occur when the energy is at its highest temperature level. Steam at 450 psig is
more valuable than 25 psig steam because more of the heat can be converted to work.
However, plant accounting systems may fail to recognize this.

5 - 11

Let us assume a small company processes chemicals using lO0,O00 lbs/hr of 50


psig steam. This steam is generated in a fuel oil fired low pressure boiler.
Accounting determines the value of the steam by considering the fixed and variable
costs to produce and deliver the steam to each unit. Has the energy from the fuel
oil been utilized efficiently?
Instead of generating low pressure steam, let us assume steam was supplied at
600 psig, but reduced to the required 50 psig. A high efficiency turbine-generator
system takes the 600 psig steam, produces electrical energy and discharges the
steam at 50 psig. One kilowatt is generated for a heat of approximately 4000
Btu/hr. Electricity purchased from a utility company requires approximately 10,000
Btu/hr and costs proportionally. Why? A utility condenses the low pressure steam
using cooling towers, loosing its remaining heat. In this example, the energy from
the 50 psig steam is not rejected to the atmosphere, but utilized in the reboilers
and heaters of the distillation columns.
Energy was utilized more efficiently, but what about costs? The existing 50
psig steam boiler must be replaced with a new high pressure boiler. A turbinegenerator system must be installed. In a new plant installation, the economics
become more favorable because replacement and redesign costs are avoided.
If the plant is too small to justify a turbine-generator system, an alternate
is to replace electric motors on pumps and other mechanical moving equipment with
steam turbines. In this case, 600 psig and 50 psig steam distribution systems must
be installed to service each turbine location.
Some plants may produce high pressure steam, but reduce its pressure to 50
psig through throttling valves. The potential work energy utilization has been
wasted. The steam could have been used to generate electricity or drive pumps. For
this reason pressure letdown stations should be avoided if possible in steam
distribution systems.
5 - 12

In the AIChE Series on Process Energy Design for Energy Conservation, Mr. Dan
Steinmeyer proposed that the accounting use the following equation for determining
the value of energy:

VT = Cp
Where

(T TR )
(T TR )
EM + (1 EM
)VR
T
T

VT

= Value of energy at temperature T

Cp

= Cost of purchased power (electricity)

= Temperature at which energy is available, degrees


absolute

TR

= Temperature of lowest pressure steam, degrees absolute

EM

= Practical efficiency of power recovery device (e.g. .70


for a steam turbine)

VR

= Value of lowest pressure steam in the plant, VR = 0 where


excess steam available.

It is very doubtful accountants will accept this approach, but the engineerd
can use this concept. Benefits include the maximization of energy utilization, as
well as the economics aspects.
5-E. COOLING WATER
Energy is required for cooling when water cooling towers or air coolers are
used. Examples are the pumps to transport the water, the fans to pull air through
the cooling tower or air cooler, and blowdown treatment for cooling towers.
Cooling water may be a fixed, variable, or both fixed and variable cost from
the energy viewpoint. The fan on a cooling tower may run all the time, regardless
of production rate. Maybe the circulating pumps handle the same flow rate and head
regardless of production load. To make a variable energy usage, the cooling fan
could be made two speed and pumping varied with demand if the velocity in exchanger
tubes does not go below a velocity that causes abnormal fouling of the tubes.
5 - 13

5-F. COMPRESSED AIR


Operating plants generally appear to have an inadequate air supply
and

plant

personnel

are

continually

requesting

additional

air.

Although

energy

usage for compressed air is small compared to the entire process, energy required
per cubic foot of air compressed is high. It is also a fixed energy item. It varies
little with production. Savings may be obtained by operating at a lower discharge
pressure, eliminating instruments that continually bleed off high volumes of air
for control purposes in a different design, eliminating the use of air to cool hot
bearings (a temporary solution that extends into days), etc.
5-G. VACUUM PUMPS AND STEAM EJECTORS
If your process includes steam ejectors, you should consider the option of
replacing the ejectors with mechanical vacuum pumps. According to the article,
Selecting a Vacuum Producer (see appendix 7-C), mechanical vacuum pumps are more
efficient energy users (8 to 10 times) than steam ejectors. In Figure 3 of the
article, steam ejectors have an economic advantage for a certain range of vacuum
and air loading, and vacuum pumps for the other ranges studied. If Figure 3 shows
your ejector vacuum and loading is in the section where the mechanical vacuum pump
is better economically, you should estimate the cost to replace your ejector and
the energy saved. If this is equal or less than the plant's investment equivalent
for energy, the recommendation should be given to management for action.
Energy usage for ejectors or vacuum pumps should be held at a minimum by (1)
maintaining vacuum unit in good condition (2) operating at the optimum vacuum and
(3) eliminating system air leaks.

5 - 14

5-H. EXCHANGERS USED FOR HEAT RECOVERY


Section 4-A discussed the optimization of heat recovery, but did not cover
the economic aspects in detail. The size of the exchanger and the amount of heat
recovered must be determined by economics. Huang and Elshout suggest that the
limiting criteria be when the incremental cost of additional heat transfer surface
exceeds the savings in energy. In the real world, any capital investment must be
expected to produce a profit or return. Thus, the investment equivalence value for
saving one unit of energy appears to be the more appropriate guideline because it
includes the profit desired. Thus, when the incremental cost of additional heat
transfer surface equals, but does not exceed the investment equivalence value, the
optimum surface area is reached.
Two different methods for determining the incremental cost of heat transfer
surface were found in the literature: the Huang and Elshout method (Appendix 7-C )
and the Jenssen method (Appendix 7-C ). Huang and Elshout assumed the heat transfer
area costs increased exponentially, but Jenssen assumed that the costs per added
surface unit are constant within the range being studied. The Jenssen method is
more accurate for large areas requiring multiple exchangers. You should have the
actual competitive bid or purchased price of an exchanger with the specifications
and surface area close to the proposed optimization design to use the Jenssen
assumption. Otherwise, the Huang and Elshout method would be preferable.
5-I. CONCLUSION
When your energy saving investigations are performed, areas of operation that
are wasteful in energy will probably be seen. However, it may not prove

5 - 15

economically attractive to make the investment because of the age of the plant and
remaining lifetime. Yet, in a new plant design, it would be justified. Most likely,
you will find that the energy usage in your existing unit will be higher than a new
unit even with your energy saving steps. The design engineer today can spend more
time to optimize and reduce energy usage of new process installations because the
relative cost of energy has increased to the point where it is profitable to do so.
In summary, this manual has attempted to describe how to make energy saving
investigations and presented you with the concepts of investment equivalence for
energy, fixed energy usage, variable energy usage, energy usage per unit of
production, and the relative value of Btus (electricity versus high pressure steam
versus low pressure steam). This knowledge should permit energy saving investments
to be made in your plant based upon sound economic principals.

5 - 16

FIGURE 5-1
REVENUE AND EXPENSE VARIATION WITH PRODUCTION
IDEAL CASE

FIGURE 5-2
VARIATION OF PROFIT WITH PRODUCTION

5 17

FIGURE 5-3
REVENUE AND EXPENSE VARIATION WITH PRODUCTION
REAL CASE

5 - 18

SECTION 6
BIBLIOGRAPHY, WITH ABSTRACTS

Bolles, William L., Economic Evaluation of Poly-Grade Propylene Production,


Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, August 22, 1966. Students at
Washington University prepared a study for Monsanto. This study covered a
vapor recompression cycle propane-propylene splitter. The columns design and
economics were found.
McCabe, W. L. & J. C. Smith, Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering, McGraw-Hill
Book Co., New York. Chapters 17 through 21 of this book cover basic aspects
of distillation. Equilibrium drawings are illustrated. Also, simple methods
of distillation column design, such as the McCabe-Thiele method, are
explained.
Null, H. R., Process Desiqn for Energy Conservation, A.I.Ch.E. Today Series,
printed by A.I.Ch.E. New York, 1975. This manual is from the course given at
the AIChE Technical Meeting in Houston, March, 1976. It discusses economic
analysis, energy recovery, energy requirements of separations, and heat
transfer from energy saving aspects.
Perry, Robert H. & Cecil H. Chilton, Chemical Engineers' Handbook, McGraw-Hill
Book Co., New York. This handbook contains a large amount of information of
interest. Some physical property data of materials can be found, as well as
formulas, graphs, methods, etc. needed for the design of distillation
columns.
Peters, Max S. & Klaus D. Timmerhaus, Plant Design and Economics for Chemical
Engineers, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York. This book contains pricing and
design information on columns, trays, heat exchangers, and packing required
for distillation column evaluation.

Technical Data Book---Petroleum Refining, American Petroleum Institute, Port City


Press, Baltimore, Md., 1970. This is an excellent source of physical
properties of hydrocarbons.
Note: List of technical articles pertinent to energy saving analyses are found in
Section 7, Appendix C.

6 - 1

SECTION 7
APPENDICES

7-A. ENERGY SAVINGS CHECKLIST---GENERAL


1.

Lighting System
a.

b.

Check Lighting Systems


(1)

Some areas can use less lighting. Examples are parking and
storage areas. Are you using more lighting than required?

(2)

Operators may fail to turn off lighting only required for night
operation. A control system for turning on and off lights at
desired times will save energy.

(3)

Check decorative lighting usage and reevaluate needs.

(4)

Clean all lights and light fixtures. Relocate if better lighting


distribution.

More Efficient Lighting

c.

(1)

A few large lights are more efficient than a larger number of


small lights with the same light output.

(2)

Replace incandescent lights with more efficient fluorescent or


sodium lights. An incandescent light is the most inefficient and
expensive type of light available.

(3)

More efficient ballasts used for fluorescent lights are available


and may be economically feasible.

Reducing the Lighting


(1)

If the lighting from a fluorescent light fixture with four lamps


can be reduced to two lamps, the power to the associated ballast
should be disconnected. You get savings from lamp wattage plus
ballast wattage.

(2)

When you remove fluorescent lamps from fixtures to reduce loads,


you can put gaps in your lighting distribution. Lower power type
fluorescent lamps are available for retrofitting a lighting
system to cut energy usage.

7 1

2.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems


a.

b.

Check HVAC Requirements


(1)

In little-used areas, reduce or eliminate heating or air


conditioning. Examples are storage areas, warehouses, the
mechanical room.

(2)

Is building insulation up to existing recommended standards?


Would double pane windows with less heat loss be an economical
approach?

(3)

Air infiltration increases HVAC requirements. Evaluate better


door systems (double doors at main entrance). Check for air
infiltration around window frames.

(4)

Check amount of fresh air exchange between outdoors and indoors.


If excessive, reduce to comfort standards.

Check HVAC Equipment


(1)

Compare efficiency of existing air conditioning unit with high


efficiency systems in the market place. If system needs
replacement, replace with a high EER unit. EER is the energy
efficiency ratio or number of Btu's removed per watt of power.
Older designed units operate at 5.7 to 6.2 EER. These low EER
units are still sold, but an EER of 8 or better saves at least

(8.0 6.2)
x 100
8.0
or 20% in electrical expense.

3.

(2)

Check the HVAC control system. The addition of control unit to


regulate the temperature during the day, night, and weekends is
better than depending upon humans to adjust. Periodically check
control system for proper functioning.

(3)

Check air distribution of heated or cooled air. Adjust for the


proper flow pattern. Then check for comfort temperature and
control settings. If electric heaters are in use by the secretaries, air distribution and air temperature regulation are
probably poor.

(4)

Periodically check HVAC equipment.

Electrical Energy
a. Electric motors
(1)

Check operating condition of all motors. Clean and repair bad


bearings.

7 - 2

b.

4.

(2)

Replace electric motors that are oversized with proper size.

(3)

When replacing motors, purchase the more efficient motors. Old


motors are not necessarily inefficient.

Electrical System

(1)

Check power factor of electrical distribution system. If low, add


capacitors to improve and lower electric company charges.

(2)

Power Company charges are generally based upon peak demand loads.
If plant is not operating at full capacity due to slow sales,
maybe the production units can be staggered in operation to keep
the electrical demand uniformly low. This minimizes electric
company charges.

Utilities
a.

Instrument and Compressed Air


(1)

Check existing distribution systems for leaks. Make a routine


maintenance procedure.

(2)

Check pressure control system for proper pressure. Can operating


pressure be reduced without adversely affecting plant operation?

(3)

Some plant equipment requires a reliable source of compressed air


that must be maintained above a minimum pressure. For example,
bag filters using pulse air for cleaning require 80 to 100 psig
supply air. If compressed air is used on an intermittent basis to
cool bearings, clean equipment, power for air hammers, etc., the
system pressure can not be held above the minimum pressure unless
additional compressed air capacity is installed. A better
alternate is to install a pressure regulator in the air
distribution header and set at the desired pressure. All
equipment requiring a minimum pressure is tied into air header
upstream of regulator. All other air connections are downstream
of regulator.

(4)

Clean, compressed, and dehumidified air is used for instrument


air. All these steps are energy users so instrument air should
not be wasted. For example, dont use instrument air as a general
service air. Don't use instruments that bleed off excessive
amounts of instrument air for control.

(5)

The dehumidification and compressing system should be checked for


dirty filters, slipping belts, proper cycling of dehumidification
unit, etc. Are compressor valves leaking? Is dehumidification
system giving the design humidity? If not, why not? If higher
humidity air can be utilized, change cycle to handle and to lower
energy usage.

7 - 3

b.

c.

Steam and Condensate Recovery Systems


(1)

Initiate a maintenance program to check for leaking steam traps.


Repair as required.

(2)

Replace inefficient steam traps with more reliable and efficient


traps.

(3)

Repair leaking valves, fittings, and connections.

(4)

Check condition and thickness of insulation on steam and


condensate recovery lines. Patch, repair, or increase insulation
thickness.

(5)

Return uncontaminated condensate to boilers if quantity


sufficient to meet the investment equivalence of energy value.

(6)

Check to see if the pressure of high pressure steam is lowered


using let down stations for low steam pressure applications. The
energy of the steam is not fully utilized. The high pressure
steam can be delivered to a high efficiency steam turbine,
recovering energy in a mechanical form.

Cooling towers and Air Coolers


(1)

Check condition of cooling tower. Missing distribution slacks,


air bypassing, and missing fan blades may be found. Repair or
replace.

(2)

Compare performance with design specifications. If not at


performance and tower condition is acceptable, check with
manufacturer for assistance.

(3)

Make up water to cooling tower should be at design flow. Too much


water wastes energy and too little causes high dissolved solids
in water circuit.

(4)

Check cooling tower treatment system and operation to prevent


algae buildup and possible plugging of exchangers.

(5)

Check circulating water pump for leaks and manual throttling. If


throttled, impeller may be too large or cooling water flow below
minimum flow which can cause plugging of exchangers. If two pumps
are operating instead of design of one, find out why. If pumps
are identical, the operation of second pump gives only a marginal
increase in flow rate. Impeller is probably bad or too small.
Correct.

(6)

For air coolers, check fins for plugging. Check fan blades. Check
control system.

7 - 4

d.

(7)

For evaporative cooling systems, check spray distribution, fan


blades, fan belts, motor bearings, etc.

(8)

If cooling tower or air coolers have only a one speed fan,


consider replacing motor for two speed operation and controlled
by cooling water outlet temperature from the tower or cooler.

Refrigeration Systems

(1)

Check design conditions and compare with actual operation.

(2)

Refrigeration is a large energy consumer. If operating


temperature of refrigeration unit could be raised, energy is
saved. Review operating procedures, actual operation, etc., and
increase if possible.

(3)

Check equipment for condition and repair. Repair insulation.

(4)

If unit is inefficient, undersized, or oversized, consider


replacing with a high efficiency unit.

7 - 5

APPENDIX 7-B
PROCESS ENERGY CHECKLIST

1.

General
a.

What is present energy usage per unit of production? Keep electrical


energy and mechanical energy separate from heat energy. Keep separate
usage of steam at different pressures. Don't forget to include energy
used for auxiliaries such as instrument air, vacuum pumps or cooling
water.

b.

What is present energy usage per unit of production by competitors?


If lower usage, why?

c.

Are foremen and operators sufficiently skilled and trained to incorporate energy conservation techniques in their job duties?

2.

Column Operation
a.

Can product purity be lowered, thereby reducing column reflux and


reboiler heat duty?

b.

Can column operating pressure be allowed to float with ambient conditions with subsequent reduction in reflux and reboiler heat duty?

c.

When column is operated at production rates below the economic production rate, is reflux flow reduced to maintain same reflux ratio and
lower reboiler heat duty?

d.

Is feed stream at optimum temperature to maximize separation and reduce


column heat duty requirements.

3. Column Revisions
a.

Is location of feed to column at optimum position?

7 - 6

b.

Can column internals be replaced with more efficient design?

c.

Can additional trays be installed in stripping or rectification


sections of column to improve separation, thereby reducing heat duty
requirements?

d.

Can an impurity be withdrawn from column to improve separation?

e.

Can the technique of pasteurization be used on existing column, thereby


eliminating further separation operations?

f.

Is it economically feasible to convert column operation to a heat pump


or vapor recompression cycle?

4.

Column Control System


a.

Can control system be updated to automatic control with an economic


payout and subsequent savings in energy requirements?

b.
5.

Can column be operated with pressure floating with ambient conditions?

Steam
a.

Can steam supply pressure be allowed to float ?

b.

Are steam turbines in operation high efficiency type units?

c.

Can steam pressure let-down stations be eliminated or minimized without


adversely affecting operation?

d.

Have the steam distribution systems been checked for leaking fittings
and connections and repaired?

e.

Is insulation on steam lines in good condition and installed?

f.

Have all steam traps been checked for leaks, proper installation and
size? Have necessary repairs been completed?

6. Heat Recovery

7 - 7

a.

Are exchangers used in heat recovery maximizing the available heat


recovery, considering economics? Will additional exchangers or
revisions in the flow scheme improve heat recovery?

b.

Has a procedure been developed for deciding when to remove exchangers


that are used in heat recovery service for cleaning? Procedure is based
upon economics.

c.

Can excess heat from other process units within the plant be used in
this process unit?

d.

Is heat being recovered from column pumparounds at the highest


temperature level? Are pumparounds at best tray locations for heat
recovery and column separation?

e.

If column operates at high overhead temperature, has heat recovery from


overhead being maximized by using two stage condensation and cooling?

7.

Column Pumping Systems


a.

Are pump impellers oversized resulting in excessive power losses


across control valves?

b.

Can control valves be resized for less rangeability, but still maintain
required system control? Benefits are reduced pressure drop and power
loss across the new, larger control valve.

c.

Are two pumps being operated in parallel when design was for one pump?
Change impellers or pumps to return to one pump operation.

8.

Production Expansion
a.

If production is to be increased by installing another column, can


present column be cascaded with new column to save energy?

7 - 8

b.

Can columns in the distillation train be resequenced to improve


separation, production and reduce energy usage?

9.

Miscellaneous
a.

Are electric motors in service oversized?

b.

Are electric motors high efficiency types?

c.

Can a vacuum pump replace a steam ejector at an energy saving and


economic benefit?

d.

Is the insulation on the column, exchangers, reboilers, etc. in good


condition? If insulation needs replacement, specifications should be
based upon economic evaluation, not replacement of same insulation. If
insulation is in good condition, check economics to increase thickness.

e.

Has efficiency of fired heaters been checked and compared with design?
Does convective section need replacement?

f.

Is excess air for process or fired heaters being controlled to minimize


energy usage without adversely affecting operation or safety of heater?

7 - 9

SECTION 7
APPENDIX C REFERENCES - TECHNICAL ARTICLES

Bannon, Robert P. & Stanley Marple Jr., Heat Recovery in Hydrocarbon


Distillation, A.I.Ch.E. Annual Meeting, Nov. 1977, New York City.

Carleson, Gil, Curves Help Choose Pumps For Parallel Operation, Plant
Engineering, July 24, 1969, pp. 60-62. (Reprint attached)

Ellerbe, R. W., Steam-Distillation Basics, Chemical Engineering, March 4, 1974,


pp. 105-112.

Fauth, G. F. & F. G. Shinskey, Advanced Control of Distillation Columns, Chemical


Engineering Progress (Vol. 71 No. 6) June 1975, pp. 49-54.

Geyer, G. R. & P. E. Kline, Energy Conservation Schemes For Distillation


Processes, Chemical Engineering Progress, May 1976, pp. 49-51.

Geyer, G. R., Distillation Modifications Conserve Energy, Oil and Gas Journal,
May 22, 1978, pp. 95-98. (Reprint attached)

Gunther, Arnold, New Distillation Approach, Chemical Engineering, Sept. 16, 1974,
pp. 140-144.

7 - 10

Goyette, Jack, Estimating the Costs of Steam Leaks, Chemical Engineering, January
16, 1978, pp. 166.

Hammett, J. L. Jr., & L. A. Lindsay, Advanced Computer Control of Ethylene Plants


Pays Off, Chemical Engineering, November 8, 1976, pp. 115-120.

Hitz, R. L., Energy Loss Characteristics of Drip and Tracer Steam Traps,
Armstrong Machine Works.

Hitz, Richard, Engineering Economics Drip and Tracer Steam Trappings, Armstrong
Machine Works, 9-2-76.

Huang, F. & R. Elshout, Optimizing the Heat Recovery of Crude Units, Chemical
Engineering Progress, July 1976, pp. 68-74.

Huff, George A., Selecting a Vacuum Producer, Chemical Engineering, March 15,
1976, pp. 83-86.

Jenssen, S.K., Heat Exchanger Optimization, Chemical Engineering Progress, (Vol.


65, No. 7) July 1964, pp. 59-66.

Kirkpatrick, R.D., M. D. Trays Can Provide Savings in Propylene Purification, The


Oil and Gas Journal, April 3, 1978, pp. 72-83. (Reprint attached)

Mix, T. S., J. S. Dweck & M. Weinberg, Energy Conservation in Distillation,


Chemical Engineering Progress, April 1978, pp. 49-55.

7 - 11

Null, H. R., Heat Pumps in Distillation, Chemical Engineering Progress, July


1976, pp. 58-64.

O'Brien, N. G., Reducing Column Steam Consumption, Chemical Engineering Progress,


July 1976, pp. 65-67.

Petterson, William C. & Thomas A. Wells, Energy-Saving Schemes in Distillation,


Chemical Engineering, Sept. 26, 1977, pp. 78-86.

Rozycke, J., Energy Conservation Via Recompression Evaporation, Chemical


Engineering Progress, May 1976, pp. 69-72.

Ryskamp, J., H. L. Wade, & R. B. Britton, Improve Crude Unit Operation,


Hydrocarbon Processing, May 1976, pp. 81-86.

Shinskey, F. G., Control Systems Can Save Energy, CEP, May 1978, pp. 43-46.

Shinskey, F. G., Energy-Conserving Control Systems for Distillation Units,


Chemical Engineering Progress, May 1976, pp. 73-78.

Skrokov, M. R., The Benefits of Microprocessor Control, Chemical Engineering,


October 11, 1976, pp. 133-139.

Tyreus, B. D. & W. L. Luyben, Two Towers Cheaper Than One?, Hydrocarbon


Processing, July 1975, pp. 93-96.

7 - 12

Tyreus, B. D. & W. L. Luyben, Controlling Heat Integrated Distillation Columns,


Chemical Engineering Progress, September 1976, pp. 59-66.

Woodard, A. M., Reduce Process Heater Fuel, Hydrocarbon Processing, July 1974,
pp. 106-108. (Reprint attached)

Wright, R. M. & A. W. Johncock, FRACTRONIC, Total Distillation Control, ISA


PREPRINT, 1976, pp. 1-8.

7 13

[The following reprints were attached to the original version at this point. These
are not included as they are copyrighted material. They can be obtained from
many libraries or the publishers.]

Technical Report prepared by Armstrong Machine Works, Energy Loss Characteristics


of Drip and Tracer Steam Traps

Armstrong Machine Works, Engineering Economics, Drip and Tracer Steam Trapping

SECTION 7
APPENDIX D
Work Problem Solution to 4-F-15

The temperature across the condenser exchanger,

TEX was assumed 20F, so the

boiling vapor must be this much lower in temperature, or


Temperature stream 10 = -9F 20 = -29F
Vapor pressure at -29F, for 50 50% mix is
(20.7+26.5)/2 = 23.6 psig
We all know the overhead stream is condensed by the condenser reboiler
so

q'c = q c = 400(3918 11,311) =

so

q'h = q'c = 2,957,200 Btu

-2,957,200 Btu

We know in entering and exit enthalpies so


Flow x (11,426 4296) = 2,957,200
414.75 lb moles

Flow (of Streams 9, 10, & 11) =


Work equation;

P2 k k 1

1
( )
P1

WI =

k
P1V1
k 1

V1 =

ZRT1
, T1 = 431R, P1 = 23.6, z = 0.96
P1

1
1
(23.6 x 144)(188)
0.18033
788

( 45 )0.18033 1
23.6

= 562.1 Btu/lb mole

Wcomp =

562.1
= 661.3 Btu / lb mole
.85

7 14

Welectric =

661.3
= 734.8 Btu / lb mole
.9

Total electric demand = 734.8 x 414.75 =

304,746 Btu

Enthalpy of Stream 11:


Enthalpy of 10 + Wcomp = 11,426 + 661.3 = 12,087 Btu/lb mole
At 45 psia, the final temperature at this enthalpy is 29F
The desuperheating requirement can be found for Stream 12 by
414.75 (12087) + M (4296) = (414.75 + M) (11,757)
M = 18.34 lb moles
Extra required for aux. Reboiler
500 40 414.75 18.34 = 26.91 lb moles
26.91 (11,757 4296) =

200,775 Btu

Using compression on the bottom stream results in a slightly lower power


requirement. However, note the differences of temperature between the cases, 22.8
to 2.8F in the overhead compression case, to 9 to -29F in the bottoms case, or
31.8F average lower.

7 15

TABLE 7-1
RESULTS FOR SPLITTER IN FIGURE 7-1

Stream Number

Vapor, lb moles

460

460

60

400

Liquid, lb moles

100

500

400

40

Temperature, deg F

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

2.8

-9

Pressure, psig

43

40

45

40

45

40

45

40

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.8

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.2

0.5

0.5

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb

97

268.8

97.1

93.1

270.5

268.8

97.1

268.8

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb

101

102.2

275.1

102.2

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole

4082

11,311

4086

3918

11,383

11,311

4086

11,311

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole

4454

4507

12,132

4507

Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4156

11,311

4295

3918

11,757

11,311

4296

11,311

Stream Number

10

11

12

13

14

Vapor, lb moles

414.75

414.75

26.91

Liquid, lb moles

414.75

18.34

26.91

Temperature, deg F

2.8

-29

23

2.8

2.8

2.8

Pressure, psig

45

23.6

45

45

45

45

Propylene, Mole Fraction

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Propane, Mole Fraction

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb

97.1

2643

278

97.1

97.1

270.5

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb

102.2

266

283

102.2

102.2

275.1

Enthalpy, Propylene, Btu/lb mole

4086

11,122

11,700

4086

4086

11,383

Enthalpy, Propane, Btu/lb mole

4507

11,731

12,474

4507

4507

12,132

Enthalpy, Average, Btu/lb mole

4296

11,426

12,087

4296

4296

11,757

7 16

FIGURE 71
WORK PROBLEM

7 17

[The following reprints were attached to the original version at this point. These
are not included as they are copyrighted material. They can be obtained from many
libraries or the publishers.]

Carlson, G. Curves help choose pumps for parallel operation. Plant Engineering,
July 24, 1969: 60-62.

Distillation modifications conserve energy. Oil and Gas Journal, May 22, 1978: 9394.

Kirkpatrick, R. D. MD trays can provide savings in propylene purification. Oil and


Gas Journal, April 3, 1978: 72-83.

Woodard, A. M. Reduce process heater fuel. Hydrocarbon Processing, July 1974: 106108.