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Sample Problem #1:

A vent gas stream in your chemical plant is 15wt% Z; the rest is air. The local pollution
authorities feel that Z is a minor pollutant and require a maximum concentration of 4wt %. You
have decided to build an absorption tower using water as the absorbent. The inlet water is
pure and at 30°C. The operation is essentially isothermal. At 30°C, your laboratory has found
that the equilibrium data can be approximated by y = 0.5x (where y and x are weight fractions
of Z in vapor and liquid, respectively).
a. Find the minimum ratio of water to air (L′ V ′) min (This is on a Z-free basis.).
b. With an L′ V′ = 1.22 (L′ V ′) min , find the total number of equilibrium stages and the outlet
liquid concentration.
Assume that air is not soluble in water and that water is nonvolatile.

x0= 0 y1 = 0.04

Absorber
t = 30°C
y = 0.5x

xN yN+1 = 0.15

Solution:

Top coordinates:

x0 0 y1 0.04
X0 = = =0 Y1 = = = 0.0417
1− x0 1− 0 1 − y1 1 − 0.04

Bottom coordinates:

y N+1 0.15
XN = ? YN+1 = = = 0.1765
1 − y N+1 1 − 0.15
Equilibrium data:

x y
Assign x y = 0.5x X= Y=
1− x 1− y
0.00 0.00 0 0
0.05 0.025 0.0526 0.0256
0.10 0.050 0.1111 0.0526
0.15 0.075 0.1765 0.0811
0.20 0.100 0.2500 0.1111
0.25 0.125 0.3333 0.1429
0.30 0.150 0.4286 0.1765

Graphical representation of (L′ V ′) min :

0.2
YN+1 0.1765 Pinch
point

0.1
Equilibrium
curve

Top
(X0,Y1)
XN,max = 0.4286
0
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5

 L′  Y − Y1 0.1765 − 0.0417
  = N+1 = = 0.3145
 V ′ min XN,max − X 0 0.4286 − 0
Determination of number of stages:

L′  L′ 
= 1.22  = 1.22( 0.6145 ) = 0.3837
V′  V ′  min

L′ YN+1 − Y1
=
V ′ XN − X 0
0.1765 − 0.0417
0.3837 =
XN − 0
xN
∴ XN = 0.3513 =
1− xN
or xN = 0.26

0.2 Bottom
(XN,YN+1)

5
Operating
line 4

3
0.1
2 Equilibrium
curve
Top 1
(X0,Y1)

0
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
Answers:

a. (L′ V ′) min = 0.3145


b. N = 4.9 and xN = 0.26