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Engineering Encyclopedia

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DISTILLATION HARDWARE

Note: The source of the technical material in this volume is the Professional
Engineering Development Program (PEDP) of Engineering Services.
Warning: The material contained in this document was developed for Saudi
Aramco and is intended for the exclusive use of Saudi Aramcos employees.
Any material contained in this document which is not already in the public
domain may not be copied, reproduced, sold, given, or disclosed to third
parties, or otherwise used in whole, or in part, without the written permission
of the Vice President, Engineering Services, Saudi Aramco.

Chapter : Chemical
File Reference: CHE-104.02

For additional information on this subject, contact


PEDD Coordinator on 874-6556

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Section

Page

INFORMATION ............................................................................................................... 5
INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................. 5
SELECTING DISTILLATION TOWER CONTACTING DEVICES ................................... 6
Crossflow Devices ................................................................................................ 8
Sieve Trays........................................................................................................... 9
Valve Trays......................................................................................................... 10
Bubble-Cap Trays............................................................................................... 11
Summary ................................................................................................. 12
Downcomer Configurations...................................................................... 13
Countercurrent Devices ........................................................................... 14
Packing............................................................................................................... 15
Grids................................................................................................................... 18
Baffle Sections.................................................................................................... 19
Summary ............................................................................................................ 20
FACTORS AFFECTING TRAY PERFORMANCE......................................................... 21
Flow Regimes - Spray and Froth ........................................................................ 21
Entrainment ............................................................................................. 22
Jet Flooding ............................................................................................. 23
Downcomer Inlet Velocity ........................................................................ 24
Downcomer Residence Time................................................................... 25
Downcomer Filling ................................................................................... 25
Downcomer Sizing Criteria ...................................................................... 26
Weeping................................................................................................... 27
Dumping .................................................................................................. 28
Tray Turndown......................................................................................... 28
Entrainment-Weeping -- Tray Operating Window .................................... 29
Tray Efficiency ......................................................................................... 30
Tray Performance Diagram...................................................................... 31
Maximum Vapor Rate Considerations ................................................................ 32
Minimum Vapor Rate Considerations ................................................................. 32
Maximum Liquid Rate Considerations ................................................................ 33
Minimum Liquid Rate Considerations ................................................................. 33

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DETERMINING WHETHER CHANGES TO TRAY DESIGN MEET TRAY


PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS............................................................................. 34
Hardware Definitions .......................................................................................... 35
Tower Diameter and Tray Spacing .......................................................... 35
Downcomer Area ..................................................................................... 36
Downcomer Clearance ............................................................................ 36
Outlet Weir Height and Weir Length ........................................................ 37
Multipass Trays........................................................................................ 37
Contacting Area Definitions ..................................................................... 38
Tray Pressure Balance ....................................................................................... 38
Main Tray Design Variables and Performance Parameters................................ 41
Main Tray Design Variables..................................................................... 41
Key Performance Parameters.................................................................. 41
Valve Tray Design Options ................................................................................. 44
Tower Internals................................................................................................... 46
Tray Transitions ....................................................................................... 46
Downcomer Seal ..................................................................................... 47
Seal Pan .................................................................................................. 48
Antijump Baffle......................................................................................... 49
Wire Mesh Entrainment Screens (Demisters).......................................... 50
Other Tower Internals .............................................................................. 51
Summary ............................................................................................................ 52
WORKAIDS................................................................................................................... 53
WORK AID 1: RESOURCE USED TO SELECT APPROPRIATE DISTILLATION
TOWER CONTACTING DEVICE .................................................................................. 53
WORK AID 2: RESOURCE USED TO HELP DETERMINE TRAY DESIGN
CHANGES EFFECTS ON PERFORMANCE ................................................................ 54
GLOSSARY .................................................................................................................. 55
Nomenclature ..................................................................................................... 55
Definitions........................................................................................................... 57
ADDENDUM: ................................................................................................................ 62
TOWER INTERNALS.................................................................................................... 63
Drawoffs ............................................................................................................. 63
Partial Drawoffs at Tray Inlet.................................................................... 63

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Total Drawoffs at Tray Inlet...................................................................... 63


Details of Column Drawoffs ..................................................................... 64
Drawoff Nozzle Sizing.............................................................................. 65
Potential Hydraulic Problems at Drawoff Locations ............................................ 66
Reboiler Drawoffs .................................................................................... 67

List of Figures
Figure 1. Crossflow Versus Countercurrent Devices...................................................... 6
Figure 2. Crossflow Contacting Devices......................................................................... 8
Figure 3. Sieve Tray Deck.............................................................................................. 9
Figure 4. Valve Trays ................................................................................................... 10
Figure 5. Bubble-Cap Trays ......................................................................................... 11
Figure 6. Stepped Versus Sloped Downcomers........................................................... 13
Figure 7. Straight, Modified Arc, and Arc-Type Downcomers....................................... 14
Figure 8. Countercurrent Devices-Random Packing .................................................... 16
Figure 9. Structured Packing by Koch Engineering ...................................................... 17
Figure 10. Various Types of Grids................................................................................ 18
Figure 11. Sheds/Disc and Donuts............................................................................... 19
Figure 12. Froth Regime Versus Spray Regime Operation .......................................... 21
Figure 13. Generating Entrainment .............................................................................. 23
Figure 14. Percent Jet Flood Versus Efficiency............................................................ 24
Figure 15. Downcomer Filling....................................................................................... 26
Figure 16. Effect of Weeping on Efficiency................................................................... 28
Figure 17. Effect of Liquid Rate on Sieve Tray Turndown ............................................ 29
Figure 18. Effect of Tower Loading on Tray Efficiency ................................................. 31
Figure 19. Typical Tray Performance Diagram............................................................. 32
Figure 20. Tray Layout Definitions................................................................................ 35
Figure 21. Downcomer Arrangements.......................................................................... 36
Figure 22. Tray Pass Arrangements............................................................................. 37
Figure 23. Pressure Balance For a Two-Pass Sieve Tray............................................ 40

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Figure 24. Ballast Trays Designed by Glitsch Inc. ........................................................ 45


Figure 25. Tray Transitions .......................................................................................... 47
Figure 26. Downcomer Sealing Techniques................................................................. 48
Figure 27. Seal Pan...................................................................................................... 49
Figure 28. Anti Jump Baffle .......................................................................................... 50
Figure 29. Example of Wire Mesh Efficiency................................................................ 51
Figure 31. Pressure Balance For a Two-Pass Sieve Tray............................................ 54

List of Tables
Table 1. Trays- A Summary of Characteristics............................................................. 12
Table 2. Counter Current Devices-A Summary of Characteristics ............................... 20
Table 3. Trays- A Summary of Characteristics............................................................. 53

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INFORMATION
INTRODUCTION
In distillation, vapor/liquid contacting devices are used to attain
equilibrium between the phases in contact. This module reviews
the most common contacting devices, their performance
characteristics, and the main tray design parameters.
The first section, Selecting Tower Contacting Devices, covers:

Crossflow devices or trays, such as sieve, valve, and bubble


caps.

Downcomers: chordal, sloped or stepped, and modified arc.

Countercurrent devices, such as random packing, structured


packing, and grids.

The second section, Factors Affecting Tower Performance,


reviews:

Vapor-handling limitations.

Liquid-handling limitations.

Other limitations.

Tray performance.

The third section, Main Tray Design Parameters, provides an


overview of tray design focusing on:

Hardware definitions.

Tray pressure balance.

Main tray design variables and key performance parameters.

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SELECTING DISTILLATION TOWER CONTACTING DEVICES


A contacting device must have good liquid and vapor handling
capacities, good contacting efficiency, reasonable pressure
drop, and predictable turndown characteristics, and it must also
be economical. The devices available fall into two broad
categories: crossflow and countercurrent. They are shown
conceptually in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Crossflow Versus Countercurrent Devices


With crossflow devices, the liquid flows horizontally across a flat
plate, called a tray that contains a contacting device that
thoroughly disperses the vapor into the liquid. The dispersion
process must produce sufficient interfacial area and maintain
the phases in contact with each other long enough to promote
adequate mass transfer between the phases.

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As the liquid flows across the tray, it is contacted by the rising


vapor. At the far side of the tray, the liquid enters a downcomer,
which carries it to the tray below where the contacting process
is repeated. The contacting area must be large enough to
handle the required liquid and vapor rates while promoting the
desired mass transfer. Likewise, the downcomer must be large
enough to handle the liquid being processed.
With countercurrent devices, the liquid flow is truly
countercurrent to the vapor flow. The efficiency of contact
depends on the area available for mass transfer. In trays, this is
provided by bubbling vapor through the liquid, thereby producing
sufficient interfacial area for mass transfer. With packing, the
interfacial area for mass transfer is provided by the surface area
of the packing. With baffle trays, the interfacial area is created
by forcing the vapor to flow through descending curtains of
liquid, which breaks the liquid curtains into droplets.
Generally, as the surface area of a device increases, the
efficiency increases. However, as the surface area increases,
capacity decreases while cost rises. Thus, the final design
involves optimizing the capacity, efficiency, cost, and other
process considerations for the variety of possible internal
designs.
Most Saudi Aramco units use valve trays; however, sieve trays
are very common in the petroleum industry. There are very few
Saudi Aramco towers with packing, although potential
applications exist, especially in vacuum crude distillation and in
debottlenecking existing units.

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Crossflow Devices
Figure 2 illustrates a typical arrangement and key components
for a one-pass tray and a two-pass tray.

Figure 2. Crossflow Contacting Devices


The most common types of trays in use today are sieve, valve,
and bubble cap trays. Following is a review of these types of
trays. Table 1, after the section on bubble caps, summarizes
their characteristics.

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Sieve Trays
The contacting area consists of flat plates containing
perforations, usually 1/2 in. (13 mm) in diameter (Figure 3).
They are the simplest trays to fabricate and are therefore the
cheapest. They also exhibit good capacity, excellent efficiency,
and good turndown characteristics (about 3/1). Their flat surface
facilitates maintenance. Thus, they may be used in fouling
services, provided the hole size is large enough.

Figure 3. Sieve Tray Deck

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Valve Trays

For most Saudi Aramco fractionation services, valve trays are


the first choice. Valve trays contain proprietary devices
manufactured by Glitsch Inc., Koch Engineering, and Nutter
Engineering. The valve size, shape, weight, and other
parameters vary from vendor to vendor. Turndown is excellent,
reaching 5/1. The valve tray capacity and efficiency are about
equal to those of a sieve tray, but cost is roughly 10% higher.
Valve trays are not recommended for severely fouling service,
because deposits may interfere with the valve movement.
Valves specified with a dimple have a lower probability to stick
to the tray deck in the closed position. Valves can also be
specified with an anti-rotation device that will prevent rotation of
the valve and wear of the valve legs.
Figure 4 illustrates valves from the three main vendors.

Figure 4. Valve Trays

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Bubble-Cap Trays
Figure 5 illustrates bubble cap trays, which were the first type of
tray developed for continuous distillation. Although they provide
excellent vapor-liquid contact over a wide range of throughputs,
they are relatively expensive to fabricate, install, and maintain.
As distillation hardware evolved, bubble-cap trays were largely
displaced first by sieve trays and later by valve trays. Despite
their expense, bubble cap trays are sometimes specified in
fouling, low pressure drop, and high turndown services.

Figure 5. Bubble-Cap Trays

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Summary

Tray
Type

Capacity

Efficiency
High.
Equal to or
better than
other tray
types.

Cost per
Unit Area

Flexibility

Remarks

Lowest of all
trays with
downcomers.

Medium. 3/1
can usually
be achieved.

Alternative to
valve trays
when high
turndown is not
required.
First choice for
most
applications.
Not
recommended
for moderate to
severe fouling
services.

Sieve

Medium to
high.

Valve

Medium to
High.
Medium.
high; as good As good as About 10%
as sieve
sieve trays. greater than
trays.
Sieve Trays.

High.
Possibly up
to 5/1.

Bubble
Cap

Medium to
high, except
low to
medium at
high liquid
rate.

High.
Use for high
5/1 or slightly flexibility where
higher.
fouling of valve
trays may be a
problem.

Medium to
high.

High.
At least twice
the cost of
sieve trays.

Table 1. Trays- A Summary of Characteristics

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Downcomer
Configurations
The standard type of downcomer is the straight, or chordal,
downcomer shown in Figure 6 and Figure 7. For a given tower
diameter, a certain amount of the available tray cross-sectional
area, the downcomer area, is needed for liquid handling with the
remainder, the bubble area, available for vapor flow. Therefore,
any changes that reduce the tray area used by downcomers,
increases the area available for vapor flow. Such a goal can be
achieved by using stepped or sloped downcomers as shown in
Figure 6. The process performance characteristics of sloped
and stepped downcomers containing the same inlet and outlet
areas are identical. They can therefore be used
interchangeably.
The required downcomer cross-sectional area is greater at the
top of the downcomer where most of the vapor disengagement
takes place. Sloped or stepped downcomers provide the
required area at the top of the downcomer, and at the same
time, they reduce the tray area taken by the downcomers at the
bottom. As a result, the tray area available for vapor-liquid
contact and vapor disengagement with stepped or sloped
downcomers is higher than for straight downcomers.
Sloped or stepped downcomers are most effective when used in
trays with moderate-to-high liquid rates to increase their vapor
capacity (existing units) or to reduce the required tray diameter
(new units).

Figure 6. Stepped Versus Sloped Downcomers

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For uniform liquid flow distribution onto a tray, the chord at the
bottom of the downcomer must have certain minimum length,
often expressed as a percentage of the tower diameter. In some
services where very low liquid rates must be handled, this
minimum chord length provides a downcomer whose area is too
large for the liquid flow rate being handled (that is, the chord is
about 6.8% of the tower cross-sectional area). A modified arc
(also known as segmental) downcomer can be specified (Figure
7) to overcome this limitation while still meeting the minimum
requirement. The modified arc downcomer has an area less
than the 6.8% provided by the minimum (65% of tower
diameter) chordal downcomer, but has a projected weir length
at least equal to the minimum. Some older towers may contain
a full arc-type downcomer. This style of downcomer functions in
the same manner as a modified arc but is more expensive to
build and thus is no longer used in new towers.

Figure 7. Straight, Modified Arc, and Arc-Type Downcomers

Countercurrent
Devices
Packing, grids, and baffle sections are the three types of
countercurrent devices reviewed in this section. Table 2 at the
end of the section, summarizes their characteristics.

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Packing
Although a packed tower design may result in a smaller tower
diameter, the total cost of the installation with packing, packing
supports, distributors, and redistributors are generally higher
than that of a trayed tower.
The most common uses of packing in distillation services are:

Applications where pressure drop across the internals is


critical, such as in vacuum distillation.

Revamps, especially where downcomers consume a large


percentage of the tower's cross-sectional area or where
downcomer filling is high; examples are, heavily liquid loaded
towers such as debutanizers and depropanizers.

Corrosive services where ceramic packings are more


economical than alloy trays.

In towers less than 2 ft in diameter.

Saudi Aramco units using packing are the crude vacuum


distillation columns, ADIP extractors (2-in. polypropylene Intalox
Saddles), and Merox oxidizers (1.5-in. carbon Raschig rings).
Random Packings (Also Called Dumped Packings) - Random
packings are the most frequently used countercurrent devices
(Figure 8). Their name derives from the fact that they are
dumped into the column and orient randomly.
The most widely used packing today is the Pall ring. It comes in
a number of sizes and materials of construction. As the ring size
increases, the capacity increases while the pressure drop cost,
and efficiency decrease. Thus, for a given design, there is an
optimum economic combination of ring size, tower diameter,
and tower height.

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Figure 8. Countercurrent Devices-Random Packing

Since 1978, several other packings have come on the market


that provides improved performance characteristics. These
include Norton Company's Intalox Metal Tower Packing (IMTP)
also known as Metal Intalox, and Nutter Engineering's Nutter
Ring. Raschig rings are used infrequently, while Intalox saddles
are generally preferred for applications requiring ceramic
packing.
Structured (Ordered) Packing - Structured packing devices are

fabricated in bundles from crimped sheet metal and installed in


the tower in layers having a fixed orientation. Since they provide
more surface area per unit volume than random packings, they
are more efficient. However, they cost two-to-four times as
much.
Of the contacting devices available, structured packings provide
the lowest pressure drop per theoretical stage of contacting as
well as the best capacity/efficiency combination. This feature
makes them especially attractive in vacuum towers.

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There are several brands and suppliers, including Flexipac by


Koch Engineering, Gempak by Glitsch, Intalox Structured by
Norton, Montz by Nutter Engineering, and Mellapak by Sulzer.
One of these devices, by Koch Engineering, is shown in Figure
9.

Figure 9. Structured Packing by Koch Engineering

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Grids
Grids are similar to structured packing in that they are fabricated
in panels and installed in an ordered manner. However, their
efficiency characteristics are much poorer due to their high open
area and low surface area per unit of volume. The first grid to
appear on the market, circa 1961, was the Glitsch grid. It was
intended for use in services where entrainment removal was
critical but where fouling was too severe to use crinkled wire
mesh screens.
In recent years, several new grids have come on the market.
They are Flexigrid by Koch Engineering and Snapgrid by Nutter
Engineering. Pictures of these major grids are shown in Figure
10.

Figure 10. Various Types of Grids


Because of their high capacity and low-pressure drop, grids
have also been used in heat transfer sections (pumparounds) of
vacuum crude distillation and other heavy hydrocarbon
fractionators. The liquid is introduced on the top layer of grid via
spray nozzles.

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Baffle Sections
There are two basic types of baffle sections. The first type is
sheds; the second type is disc and donuts (Figure 11). These
devices operate differently from grids or packing. In baffle
sections, the liquid cascades from baffle to baffle in the form of
liquid curtains. As the vapor flows through these curtains, the
liquid is broken up into droplets and mass transfer occurs.
However, this is a very inefficient liquid/vapor contacting
mechanism.
For severe fouling services, baffle sections are about the only
internal available if long run lengths are required. Because of
their high open area, they have high capacity but very poor
efficiency. Thus, baffle sections require a disproportionate
amount of tower height for the functions they perform.

Figure 11. Sheds/Disc and Donuts

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Summary

Device

Capacity

Packing (Pall Medium.


Rings, Metal
Intalox, Nutter
Rings, etc.)

Efficiency
Medium to
High.

Cost per
Unit Area
Medium to low,
depending on
material of
construction.

Flexibility

Remarks

> 3/1.

Good for DP
service. Mainly
used in vacuum
pipestills and in
various high
liquid rate
absorbers

> 3/1.

Best efficiency
per unit of DP.

Structured
Packing
Flexipac;
Montz
Gempak;
Mellapak
IntaloxStructured

Medium to
very high
depending
on size
used.

Medium to very High - at least


high depending two times
dumped
on size used.
packing cost.

Glitsch Grid
Flexigrid

Very high.

Poor as
fractionation
device. Good
for entrainment
removal and
heat transfer.

Medium to
high.

Low
less than
2/1.

Good for high


vapor-low liquid
service to
minimize effect
of entrainment.
Used in wash
zones of heavy
hydrocarbon
fractionators
where
moderate
coking occurs.

Very high.

Poor as
fractionation
device.

Medium.

Low.
< 1.5/1

Used in severe
fouling service;
e.g., slurry
pumparound in
cat fractionator.

Snapgrid

Sheds and
Disc and
Donuts

Table 2. Counter Current Devices-A Summary of Characteristics

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FACTORS AFFECTING TRAY PERFORMANCE


Flow Regimes - Spray and Froth
Movies taken during operations in various towers have indicated
that different flow regimes can exist on a tray. The first is the
froth regime. In this regime, vapor passes through the liquid on
the tray as discrete bubbles of irregular shape. As the vapor rate
increases, jets and bubbles of rapidly changing shape are
observed. If the vapor rate is raised still further, a gas jet issues
from the orifice and some of the liquid is shattered into droplets
in a regime called the spray regime. In the spray regime, the
vapor phase is continuous, whereas in the froth regime, the
liquid phase is continuous (Figure 12). Spray regime operation
occurs primarily at high vapor velocities and low liquid rates.
The froth regime in high-pressure systems is also referred to as
the emulsion regime.

Figure 12. Froth Regime Versus Spray Regime Operation

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Operation in the spray regime can be very detrimental to good


tower performance, causing tray efficiency to drop sharply
because the liquid and vapor residence times are reduced.
While spray regime operations have been observed on all the
widely used trays discussed earlier, the spray regime has been
investigated primarily with sieve trays.
Under spray regime conditions, the vapor rate is sufficient to
"blow through" the liquid, thereby making the vapor phase
continuous. In fact, the term blowing is often used to describe
the spray regime. Because the liquid rate is usually set by the
process and cannot be increased, the most effective way to
suppress the spray regime is to dissipate the jet leaving the
orifice as quickly as possible. The most obvious way to dissipate
the jet is to increase the open area on the tray, thereby reducing
jet velocity. A second way is to use smaller orifices; for example
1/8-in. holes versus 1/2- or 1/4-in. holes used on sieve trays.
Because the distance to dissipate a jet is a function of the orifice
diameter, the smaller the orifice the faster the jet will dissipate.
A third way is to use valve trays. Because the vapor leaves the
valve element almost horizontally, its vertical velocity
component is greatly reduced and its jet is more quickly
dissipated.
Entrainment
Entrainment is defined as the liquid carried by the vapor from a
given tray to the tray above. As the vapor rate in the contacting
area is increased, the amount of energy being dissipated also
increases. This energy creates the interfacial area needed for
good contacting between the liquid and the vapor. It also
expands the froth or spray height on the tray, thereby
decreasing the distance between the top of the spray and the
tray above. As this disengaging distance decreases further,
some of the liquid is carried, or entrained, to the tray above as
droplets (Figure 13). The smallest drops will be entrained to the
tray above while the largest drops will fall back to the
entrainment generation tray. As the quantity of entrainment
increases, the tray above becomes overloaded and floods, and
the tray efficiency drops sharply. Flooding must be avoided to
maintain good tower control and design fractionation. The
quantity of entrainment generated is dependent on vapor rate,
liquid rate, system physical properties, and certain hardware
parameters.

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Figure 13. Generating Entrainment


Jet Flooding
Jet flooding sets the vapor-handling capacity of almost all crossflow trays. In jet flooding, the liquid is projected or jetted to the
tray above by the vapor leaving the tray's orifice. If sufficient
liquid is entrained to the tray above, the liquid will overload the
downcomers, and the tray will flood. When flooding occurs, the
liquid begins to back up on the tray until the inter-tray space is
filled with a dense froth (Figure 14). This causes the next higher
tray to flood, and flooding moves up the tower until the liquid is
carried out the top of the tower. When flooded, the tower
fractionates poorly and is very difficult to control.
The approach to flooding conditions is quantified as % jet flood
or % flood. This is the ratio, expressed as percent, of the vapor
velocity between the trays, V, divided by the maximum vapor
velocity that will not cause flooding. The maximum velocity is
called allowable vapor velocity, Va.

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Because jet flooding sets the maximum capacity of the tower, it


must not be exceeded. Furthermore, as the percent of the jet
flood velocity moves from 90% to 100%, the entrainment rate
increases exponentially and the tray efficiency falls off sharply.
Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook and vendor literature
provide correlations for determining jet flooding.

Figure 14. Percent Jet Flood Versus Efficiency


Downcomer Inlet
Velocity
As the liquid leaves the contacting area on a tray, it enters the
downcomer. Since it enters as a froth (20-50% liquid by
volume), it must be disengaged before it flows to the tray below.
The downcomer provides residence time for disengaging and
acts as a conduit for liquid flow to the tray below.
If the entrance area is too small and the froth cannot readily
enter the downcomer, the froth height will increase in the
contacting area. This height will continue to increase until there
is sufficient head to force the froth into the downcomer or until
the froth reaches the tray above, causing flooding.

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Downcomer
Residence Time
The difference between the liquid and vapor densities, (L-V) is
one measure of the difficulty of separation in the downcomer.
Thus, based on buoyancy considerations, as the difference of
L-V gets smaller, disengaging becomes more difficult. For this
reason, the downcomer sizing criteria allow lower velocities
(higher residence time) for high-pressure systems, where L-V
is low.
Downcomer Filling
The liquid height in the downcomer is called downcomer filling,
expressed in inches of clear liquid or as a percent of the tray
spacing. Since the liquid enters the downcomer as froth, the
actual fluid level in the downcomer will be higher than the filling
calculated as clear liquid (Figure 15). The exact height depends
on the average froth density in the downcomer. As the liquid
travels downward in the downcomer, the vapor disengages and
escapes from the top of the downcomer. If the downcomer is
sized properly, the liquid leaving should be essentially clear
liquid. Thus, there is a froth density gradient down the
downcomer that ranges from the froth density on the tray (at the
top) to clear liquid at the bottom.

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Figure 15. Downcomer Filling


Downcomer Sizing
Criteria
Downcomer inlet velocity, based on vapor-free liquid, normally
should not exceed
0.4 ft/s to assure an adequate area for vapor disengaging. For
foamy liquids, the inlet velocity is limited to 0.2 ft/s. However,
based on Saudi Aramco experience with crude stabilizer
columns, downcomer inlet velocity can be higher without
downcomer flooding limitation.
Allowable downcomer filling is 50% for normal systems and 40%
for foaming systems. Further, the downcomer shall be sized to
allow 5 seconds minimum residence time for low- pressure
columns and 7 to 8 seconds for high-pressure columns (greater
than 400 psi) and systems with high foam stability.

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Weeping
At low vapor velocities, the dry-tray pressure drop of the tray is
insufficient to support the liquid head on the tray; as a result,
some liquid begins to flow intermittently through the vapor
openings. This liquid bypassing begins at the "weep point." As
the vapor rate decreases further, more liquid pours through the
holes and weeping becomes continuous.
Although the total quantity of liquid that weeps is constant at a
given vapor rate, the weep rate per hole fluctuates. That is,
some holes are weeping while others are in the vapor bubbling
mode. At any instant, a given hole may be bubbling, weeping, or
doing neither, in a random distribution across the contacting
area of the tray.
Although weeping can occur on all tray types, it is less of a
problem in valve trays, which are the most widely used tray in
Saudi Aramco plants. Since weeping occurs only at reduced
rates, it is the major factor in determining tray turndown, the
range of vapor loadings over which acceptable fractionation is
achieved. (See Tray Turndown discussion.) For sieve trays,
turndown ratio is usually between 2/1 to 3/1; for valve trays, 3/1
to 5/1.
As Figure 16 shows, when vapor rate decreases, weeping
increases very rapidly and tray efficiency begins to decrease
sharply. Weepage up to 20% of the liquid rate has small effect
on efficiency and is acceptable.

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Figure 16. Effect of Weeping on Efficiency

Dumping
When all the liquid flows through the holes on a tray, that is, no
liquid flows over the weir, dumping is said to occur.
When dumping takes place, tray efficiency is extremely poor
and the products will be off-spec. Trays should not be operated
in the dumping region.

Tray Turndown
Turndown is a measure of the hydraulic flexibility of the tray. It
is defined as the ratio of maximum to minimum loadings in a
range over which acceptable tray performance is achieved. This
usually is the range over which the tray efficiency stays at or
above the design value (Figure 16).

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As Figure 16 shows, there is a relatively flat portion of the


efficiency curve where design (or better) efficiency is obtained.
At low vapor rates, however, excessive weeping decreases
efficiency; at high vapor rates (above 90% of flood), excessive
entrainment decreases efficiency.

Entrainment-Weeping -Tray Operating Window


Figure 17a shows the fractional weepage and entrainment
curves for a typical sieve tray with a moderate to high liquid rate.
Using Figure 17a and b, note the difference in operating ranges
for 20% fractional weepage and entrainment. The moderate to
high liquid rate provides a good turndown ratio. The low liquid
rate provides a poor turndown ratio. Sieve trays can usually be
designed to provide a turndown ratio of 2/1 to 3/1; valve trays,
up to 5/1.
If the liquid rate on a tray is low (say below 1.5 gpm/in. of weir
per pass), the operating window on the tray is extremely small
or nonexistent. This is shown in Figure 17b.

Figure 17. Effect of Liquid Rate on Sieve Tray Turndown

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Tray Efficiency
The vapor and liquid phases must be dispersed thoroughly and
remain in contact long enough for mass transfer to occur and to
achieve good efficiency. The vapor residence time is the time
for the vapor to flow through the volume of froth on the tray.
Likewise, the liquid residence time is the time for the liquid to
flow through the volume of froth on the tray. Both of these
variables depend on liquid and gas rates as well as the weir
height and bubble area on the tray.
The efficiency is also affected by the vapor and liquid
diffusivities. Since these values are fixed for a given system,
there is no way to change them through tray hardware changes.
To achieve good efficiency, a designer must optimize the weir
height, open area, bubble area, number of liquid passes, and
other variables. Excessive weeping, entrainment, and operation
in the spray regime must be avoided.
Figure 18 illustrates the effect of tower loading on valve and
sieve tray efficiencies. The operating range for the valve tray is
wider, reaching to very low turndown. Sieve tray efficiency may
be somewhat higher near design loadings.

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Figure 18. Effect of Tower Loading on Tray Efficiency


Tray Performance
Diagram
A fractionating tray must be operated within a certain range of
vapor and liquid rates to give optimum performance and an
economical design. Outside this range, efficiency drops off or
the tower becomes inoperable. The effects of vapor and liquid
rates on tray performance are depicted schematically on Figure
19 and are summarized in the text that follows.

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Figure 19. Typical Tray Performance Diagram

Maximum Vapor Rate Considerations


A very high vapor rate may cause:

Jet flooding, excessive entrainment, or spray regime


operation.

High-pressure drop across the tray, resulting in excessive


downcomer filling and subsequent tray flooding.

Minimum Vapor Rate Considerations


A very low vapor rate may cause:

Weeping or dumping.

Poor contacting and tray efficiency because of inadequate


vapor and liquid mixing.

These conditions can result from insufficient vapor loading or


from excessive open area on the tray, both of which produce a
low vapor velocity through the tray openings.

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Maximum Liquid Rate Considerations


High liquid rates may cause:

Tray flooding because of insufficient disengaging in the


downcomers, excessive tray pressure drop, and excessive
downcomer filling.

Tray flooding because of excessive downcomer entrance or


exit velocity and downcomer bridging.

Minimum Liquid Rate Considerations


Low liquid rates may cause:

Spray regime operation at high vapor rates.

Vapor bypassing up the downcomers, if the downcomer is


not sealed.

Poor contacting and low tray efficiency, because of


inadequate liquid residence time on the tray due to operation
in the spray regime.

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DETERMINING WHETHER CHANGES TO TRAY DESIGN MEET TRAY


PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS
The development of a design for a new tray generally follows
the steps listed below:
1.

Define the design vapor and liquid loadings.

2.

Determine tray spacing, diameter, and layout.

3.

Calculate hydraulics, pressure drop, and downcomer (DC)


filling.

4.

Evaluate flexibility.

5.

Produce a balanced tray design.

The tray design procedure is iterative and involves repeating


several of these steps, even when a tray design computer
program is used. In this section we will focus on:

Hardware definitions.

Tray pressure balance.

Main tray design variables that the engineer needs to


determine performance and key parameters that the tray
design must satisfy.

Valve tray design options

The Saudi Aramco Design Practice, SADP-C-001, contains


information and criteria for tray design. A Glitsch valve tray
design manual is provided as a separate class handout.

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Hardware Definitions
Figure 18 and Figure 19 are typical layouts of single-pass trays,
illustrating the tray characteristics discussed in the following
sections.
Tower Diameter and
Tray Spacing
These two parameters set the capacity of the tower. As the
distance between trays (the tray spacing, H) increases, tower
capacity increases. For most services, the most economical
spacing falls between 18-24 in. Spacings above 36 in. provide
little capacity advantage and are not usually recommended.
Likewise, tray spacings as low as 12 in. can be used, but this
increases the tower diameter (DT) required to handle a given
set of vapor and liquid loadings. In addition, low spacings make
maintenance much more difficult. The Saudi Aramco
Engineering Standards specify minimum tray spacing
requirement at various tower diameters.

Figure 20. Tray Layout Definitions

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Figure 21. Downcomer Arrangements

Downcomer Area
This is the area in Figure 18 and Figure 19 (Sdi, Sdo) that
handles liquid as it flows from a given tray to the tray below. The
edge of the downcomer is usually chordal in shape, and its
maximum width is called the downcomer rise (r).

Downcomer
Clearance
This is the vertical clearance (c) between the tray floor and the
bottom edge of the downcomer apron (Figure 20).

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Outlet Weir Height


and Weir Length
As the liquid leaves the contacting area and enters the
downcomer, it flows over the outlet weir (Figure 20). The height
of the weir (hw) is set by the designer to provide liquid holdup on
the tray and promote efficient liquid/vapor contacting. The weir
length (lw) is the same as the downcomer chord length.
Inlet weirs are discussed later in the downcomer seal section.

Multipass Trays
As the liquid rate on a tray increases, the capacity of the tower
can usually be increased if the liquid flow is split into more than
one path (Figure 22). Such split-flow trays are called multipass
trays. On multipass trays, the downcomers nearest the tower
centerline are inboard downcomers, while those farthest away
are called outboard downcomers.

Figure 22. Tray Pass Arrangements

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Contacting Area
Definitions
During tray design, such terms as active area, hole area, waste
area, and free area are used. They are explained below (see
also Figure 18 and Figure 19).
Active or Bubble Area (At) - This is the area between the

downcomers where vapor/liquid contacting occurs. It is used in


calculating tray efficiency, but does not set the trays capacity.
Hole/Valve/Cap Area (Ap) - This is the open area or hole area

provided within the bubble area to permit vapor to enter,


contact, and pass through the liquid on the tray. For a sieve
tray, it equals the total area of all the holes on a given tray.
The hole area is usually expressed as a fraction of the active
area (Ap/At) and is determined by various correlations for each
tray type.
Waste Area (Aw) - Waste area is any part of the active area that

is farther than 3 in. from the edge of a contacting device. Since


vapor does not contact the liquid in this area, it is not included in
the active area. Waste area frequently occurs when tray
blanking, inlet weirs, or recessed inlet have been specified.
Free Area (Af) - Test data have shown that as the vapor flows

through and leaves the active area (At) it expands over the
downcomer(s) and its velocity drops. Thus, an area greater than
the bubble area is available for vapor flow. This larger area is
known as the free area (Af). The free area is what determines
the trays capacity. When multipass trays are designed, the tray
(either inboard or outboard) that has the smallest free is used to
set the trays capacity. For trays with sloped or stepped
downcomers, the average free area is used.
Flow Path Length (lfp) - The length of the contacting area in the

direction of the liquid flow (Figure 21).

Tray Pressure Balance


A tray pressure balance illustrates the factors that determine
downcomer filling. Figure 23 illustrates the pressure balance for
a two-pass sieve tray; the pressure balance for a one-pass tray
and for a valve tray is similar.

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The components of the pressure balance are described below.


Their values are generally expressed in terms of clear liquid
height at the tray conditions, for example, inches of clear liquid.

Dry tray pressure drop (Pd). It is the pressure drop through


the tray openings, sieve holes in this case. It does not take
into account any effects from the presence of the liquid (dry
tray).

Average liquid static head (La).

The sum of Pd and La is the pressure drop between the


trays.

Pressure loss under the downcomer or downcomer


contraction pressure loss (hd) results from the flow of the
liquid through the downcomer clearance.

Downcomer liquid filling (D).

A pressure balance between the trays through two paths,


through the tray openings and through the downcomer, results
in the following equations.
Pressure balance for inboard downcomer filling:

D = hd + P + L + La
d
a
Pressure balance for outboard downcomer filling:
D = hd + Pd + La + L

The * distinguishes inboard from outboard downcomer trays


(Figure 23). It was assumed that the vapor density, V, is
significantly lower than the liquid density, L.
Pressure balance for single pass trays:
D = hd + Pd + 2L a
For light ends columns operating under high pressures, it is
necessary to consider the effect of vapor density in design
calculations. The liquid height in the downcomer in such cases
should be determined by equations.

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The pressure balance components (i inches of clear liquid) are:


D
=
liquid height in downcomer on vapor-free basis
La =
average static head on the tray
hd =
downcomer contraction pressure drop
Pd =
dry tray vapor pressure drop
* =
distinguishes values associated with inboard downcomer trays.
Figure 23. Pressure Balance For a Two-Pass Sieve Tray

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Main Tray Design Variables and Performance Parameters


Below is a list of the main variables determined during tray
design and a list of key performance parameters affected by the
tray design. A discussion relating the items in the two lists
follows.

Main Tray Design


Variables

Tray diameter

Tray spacing

Number of tray passes

Downcomer area

Downcomer type

Active or bubble area

Open or hole area

Weir height

Downcomer clearance

Jet flooding.

Downcomer filling (downcomer flooding).

Downcomer inlet velocity (inlet flood).

Dry and total tray pressure drop.

Pressure drop under the downcomer.

gpm/in. of weir, gph/ft Diameter.

Weeping and tray flexibility.

Key Performance
Parameters

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Tray diameter and tray spacing are the two most important
variables in tray design because they determine the diameter
and height of the tower. They affect two important performance
parameters: jet flooding and downcomer filling (downcomer
flooding). The tray diameter is the main variable in determining
the velocity of vapor between trays and, as a result, jet flooding.
Tray spacing also affects jet flooding. Higher tray spacing
between trays allows more liquid droplets to settle before they
reach the tray above; thus it helps reduce entrainment and the
percent jet flood. Improvement for tray spacings above 36 in. is
marginal. Because of the trade-off between tower diameter (tray
diameter) and height (tray spacing), finding the most economical
design may require the evaluation of alternative tray spacings.
Tray diameter and tray spacing also affect downcomer filling.
Vapor velocities determined by the tray diameter affect the tray
pressure drop of a tray and as a result the downcomer filling.
Tray spacing sets the height available for vapor disengagement
in the downcomers. Liquid height is the numerator and tray
spacing the denominator in determining the percent downcomer
filling.
The Saudi Aramco Engineering Standards, SAES-C-001, 5.1.3,
specify minimum tray spacing requirements for tower access
and service.
Towers with high liquid rates use more than one tray pass. The
upper acceptable limit of liquid rate per tray pass is about 15
gpm/in. of weir or according to the SADP criteria, 5000 gph/ft of
diameter. Tray hydraulics at higher liquid rates become
unpredictable.
The downcomer area determines the inlet velocity in the
downcomer and along with the tray spacing, the residence time
of liquid in the downcomer. SADP specify maximum inlet
velocity and minimum residence time requirements. Vendors
(see Glitsch valve tray design manual) have similar criteria.
When the downcomer inlet velocity sets the size of the
downcomer (usually at high liquid rates), it may be possible to
increase the cross sectional space available for vapor flow by
using sloped downcomers. The liquid leaving the downcomer is
relatively clear of vapor; thus, higher velocities (on clear liquid
basis) at the bottom of the downcomer are acceptable.
The active or bubble area of a tray normally is the area left after
the downcomer area is determined. Very small residence time

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and small flow path lengths along the bubble area may result in
low tray efficiencies.
The open or hole area of a tray affects tray performance
parameters such as dry tray pressure drop, weeping and tray
flexibility, and the transition between the froth and spray
regimes on the tray. Lowering the open area increases the
vapor velocity through the holes, the dry tray pressure drop, and
as a result, the downcomer filling. High vapor velocities through
the holes, especially when the liquid rates are low, may result in
a spray rather than froth vapor-liquid contact on the tray. High
open area reduces the flexibility of the tray and may result in
weeping and dumping at turndown conditions.
The weir height is a key factor in determining the liquid height
on the tray. As such, it affects tray performance parameters
such as pressure drop, weeping, and tray flexibility. It also
affects the spray-froth transition and the tray efficiency. Along
with the downcomer clearance, it determines the downcomer
sealing. The downcomer clearance also affects the pressure
loss under the downcomer (or downcomer contraction pressure
loss hd) and therefore, downcomer filling. For trays with high
liquid rates, shaped lip downcomers help reduce pressure drop.

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Valve Tray Design Options


Valve trays are normally specified for new column designs.
They are relatively inexpensive and provide good vapor/liquid
contact over a wide throughput range.
Valve tray designs are normally developed by the various tray
fabricators that submit quotations. Precise design methods vary,
but all fabricators follow the same general procedures. Most
major tray fabricators issue, for general use, design manuals
that illustrate these procedures. Sample design manuals include
the following:
(a)

Glitsch, Inc. (Dallas, Texas)


Ballast Tray Design Manual (Bulletin No. 4900)
5th Edition (December 1989)

(b)

Koch Engineering Company, Inc. (Wichita, Kansas)


Flexitray (R) Design Manual (Bulletin 960-1, 1982)

(c)

Nutter Engineering Company (Tulsa, Oklahoma)


Float Valve Design Manual
April 1976

Such manuals can be used to:

Determine the preliminary size of new columns and tray


components.

Check tray fabricators' designs for new columns and trays.

Evaluate existing columns under operating conditions


differing from original designs.

Tray fabricators' design manuals are updated periodically, so


care must be taken to utilize the latest manuals. Tray designs
developed by tray vendors or via vendor manuals should be
checked using the Saudi Aramco design criteria (SADP-C-001).
For final design, the tray should be rated by the vendor. Figure
24 is typical of tray design results from valve tray vendors.
PROCESS/PRO II can be used to develop new tray designs
and rate existing ones. PROCESS/PRO II uses the Glitsch
valve tray design method. For sieve and bubble cap trays, it
derates the valve tray results by 5 and 15% respectively. It is
necessary to simulate the tower to rate or design a tray with
PROCESS or PRO II.

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Figure 24. Ballast Trays Designed by Glitsch Inc.

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Tower Internals
The following is a list of common tower internals. The design of
most of these internals is covered in SADP-C-001. In addition to
SADP, vendors can provide designs and design criteria.

Tray support.

Tray pass transitions.

Downcomer seal.

Antijump baffle.

Wire mesh entrainment screens (demister).

Tower inlets.

Tower drawoffs.

Reboiler drawoffs.

An overview of tray pass transitions, downcomer seal, anti-jump


baffle, and wire mesh entrainment screens is below.

Tray Transitions

Figure 25 illustrates the tray transition arrangement for one-pass


trays to two-pass trays.

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Figure 25. Tray Transitions

Downcomer Seal

The downcomer must be sealed by liquid to prevent some of the


vapor from bypassing the contacting region by flowing upward
through the liquid in the downcomer. In most designs, the liquid
holdup (or clear liquid height) will sufficiently seal the
downcomer clearance without additional hardware devices.
When this is not possible, however, ways to provide a seal via
hardware techniques are shown in Figure 26.

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Figure 26. Downcomer Sealing Techniques

Seal Pan

Seal pans provide seal for the bottom tray. A typical seal pan
arrangement is shown in Figure 27.

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Figure 27. Seal Pan


Antijump Baffle

Figure 28 illustrates a typical antijump baffle. Antijump baffles


are used to prevent liquid collision in the center of the inboard
downcomer. The specific need for this baffle varies with liquid
rate and the type of tray used.

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Figure 28. Anti Jump Baffle


Wire Mesh Entrainment
Screens (Demisters)

In some towers, entrainment of liquid can cause serious product


contamination and degradation. Crinkled wire mesh screens are
installed to provide a surface upon which the entrained liquid
can coalesce to prevent this problem. These screens must be
carefully designed. If the velocity through the screen is too low,
maximum coalescence will not occur. If the velocity is too high,
coalesced liquid will be re-entrained from the screen.
Screen coking may also be a problem, depending on
temperature, type of screen, and feedstock quality. Each tower
must be considered individually and past or similar experience
relied upon.

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An example of wire mesh screen efficiency is provided in Figure


29. For optimum performance, the kinetic energy factor F = V
[V/(L-V)]0.5 for the vapor entering the screen should fall
within the design range of the screen. If it falls below this range,
the cross-sectional area of the screen should be reduced
somewhat by addition of a donut-shaped baffle around the
screen.

Figure 29. Example of Wire Mesh Efficiency

Other Tower Internals

Other tower internals are discussed in Addendum A.

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Summary

Valve and sieve trays are the trays most commonly used in
the petroleum industry. Valve trays are the first choice for
most Saudi Aramco applications.

Packing is the best choice in services where pressure drop


is important in revamps and in corrosive services. Structured
packing provides very high efficiency per unit volume or
pressure drop, but it is very costly.

Jet flooding is caused by high entrainment rates. Jet flooding


typically moves up the tower, fills the space between the
trays with liquid, and reduces tray efficiencies sharply.

Limitations related to the liquid-handling capabilities of a tray


are: high downcomer inlet velocities, low residence time, and
high downcomer filling. SADP design criteria address these
limitations.

The tray performance diagram illustrates in a vapor-liquid


rate diagram the acceptable operating range and the
limitations surrounding it

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WORKAIDS
WORK AID 1:

RESOURCE USED TO SELECT APPROPRIATE


DISTILLATION TOWER CONTACTING DEVICE

Trays- A Summary of Characteristics

Tray
Type

Capacity

Efficiency

Cost per
Unit Area

High. Equal Lowest of all


to or better trays with
than other downcomers.
tray types.

Sieve

Medium to
high.

Valve

Medium.
High.
Medium to
high; as good As good as About 10%
sieve trays. greater than
as sieve
Sieve Trays.
trays.

Bubble
Cap

Medium to
high, except
low to
medium at
high liquid
rate.

Medium to
high.

High.
At least twice
the cost of
sieve trays.

Flexibility

Remarks

Medium.
3/1 can
usually be
achieved.

Alternative to
valve trays
when high
turndown is not
required.

High.
Possibly up
to 5/1.

First choice for


most
applications.
Not
recommended
for moderate to
severe fouling
services.

Use for high


High.
5/1 or slightly flexibility where
fouling of valve
higher.
trays may be a
problem.

Table 3. Trays- A Summary of Characteristics

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WORK AID 2:

RESOURCE USED TO HELP DETERMINE TRAY


DESIGN CHANGES EFFECTS ON PERFORMANCE

The pressure balance components (in inches of clear liquid) are:


D
=
liquid height in downcomer on vapor-free basis
La
=
average static head on the tray
hd
=
downcomer contraction pressure drop
Pd
=
dry tray vapor pressure drop
*
=
distinguishes values associated with inboard downcomer trays.
Figure 31. Pressure Balance For a Two-Pass Sieve Tray

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GLOSSARY
Nomenclature
Ad

Clearance area between downcomer and tray below, in.2, cm2

A1

Area of one hole, ft2, m2

Af

Tray free area, ft2, m2

Ap

Hole area, ft2, m2

At

Active area (available for holes, valves, caps), ft2, m2

Aw

Waste area, ft2, m2

Notch width, in., mm

Co

Orifice discharge coefficient

CSB

Tray capacity parameter, ft/s, m/s

Downcomer clearance, in., mm

Nozzle diameter, in., mm

Vapor-free liquid in downcomer height, in., mm

DT

Tower diameter, ft, m

Depth of V notch, in., mm

Fh

Factor in calculation of effective liquid head

Aeration factor

FP

Flow parameter, (L/VL)(V/L)0.5

Tray spacing, in., mm

hd

Downcomer contraction pressure loss, in. liquid, mm liquid

he

Effective liquid head over weir, in.

ho

Head of liquid over weir, in., mm

hon

Liquid height on notch, in., mm

hr

Residual pressure drop, in. liquid, mm liquid

ht

Total tray pressure drop, in. liquid, mm liquid

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hv

Hydrostatic head of vapor, in. liquid, mm liquid

hw

Weir height, in., mm

hwi

Inlet weir height, in., mm

hwo

Outlet weir height, in., mm

K1

Viscosity/pressure correction factor of Va

Liquid volumetric rate, ft3/s, m3/h

La

Average static liquid head, in. liquid, mm liquid

lfp

Flow path length, in., mm

lud

Length of clearance under downcomer, in., mm

lw

Effective weir length, in., mm

lwi

Inlet weir length, in., mm

LLH

High Liquid Level

LLL

Low Liquid Level

Np

Number of tray passes

Number of notches in weir

Pd

Dry-tray vapor pressure drop, in. liquid, mm liquid

Pw

Wet tray pressure drop, in. liquid, mm liquid

Liquid flow rate, gpm, L/s

Downcomer rise, in., mm

Sd

Downcomer area, ft2, m2

Sdi

Downcomer inlet area, ft2, m2

Sdo

Downcomer outlet area, ft2, m2

St

Column cross sectional area, ft2, m2

TT

For towers, refers to the height of the tower measured Tangentto-Tangent

Minimum vapor velocity trough hole, ft/s, m/s

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Ui

Liquid velocity at downcomer entrance, ft/s, m/s

Uo

Linear vapor velocity trough holes, ft/s, m/s

Superficial vapor velocity, ft/s, m/s

Va

Allowable superficial vapor velocity, ft/s, m/s

VL

Total tray vapor load, ft3/s, m3/s

VN

Vapor velocity based on the net tray area available for liquid
disengagement, ft/s, m/s

Ratio of hole area to tray area available for holes

Liquid viscosity, cP, cP

Liquid density at operating conditions, lb/ft3, kg/m3

Vapor density at operating conditions, lb/ft3, kg/m3

Surface tension, dynes/cm, dynes/cm

Distinguishes values associated with inboard downcomer trays

Definitions
Active Area

The tray deck area where the liquid-vapor contacts take


place.

Antijump Baffle

Tower internal device placed over the inlet of an inboard


downcomer in order to prevent liquid from one side from
jumping to the other side. See figure in the text.

Arc Downcomer

A type of downcomer. See figure in Downcomer


Configuration section

Baffle Sections

Horizontal or low-angle contacting devices creating


cascades of liquid for contact with rising vapor. There
are two basic types of baffle sections: sheds, and disks
and donuts. See the figures in the text.

Blank Tray

Tray used to collect liquid from higher trays or packing.


Blank trays do not provide vapor-liquid contact. A
synonymous term is chimney tray.

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Bubble Cap Tray

A type of tray. The vapor goes through risers and


inverted caps making contact with the liquid when
leaving the caps. See the figures in the text.

Cartridge Tray

Prefabricated tray and downcomer assembly. See


figure in text.

Chimney Tray

Tray used to collect liquid from higher trays or packing.


Chimney trays do not provide vapor-liquid contact. A
synonymous term is blank tray.

Choking

Accumulation of froth bridged over the inlet of a


downcomer, slowing down the transfer of liquid to the
trays below.

Chordal Downcomer

Vertical straight downcomer across a chord of the tower


cross section. Synonymous with straight downcomer.
See Figure 6, Downcomer Configuration section.

Column

A vertical vessel containing contacting devices such as


trays or packing, used to perform separations such as
distillation or extraction. A synonymous term is tower.

Counter Current Devices

Devices in which the liquid flow is truly countercurrent to


the vapor flow.

Cross-Flow Devices

Devices in which liquid flows horizontally across a flat


plate.

Debottlenecking

Removal of a process or equipment constraint.

Demisting

Elimination of entrained liquid droplets at the top of a


packed bed or a trayed tower.

Disc and Donuts

A type of baffle section. See the figures in the text.

Downcomer Area

The cross-sectional area of downcomers.

Downcomer Clearance

The vertical distance between the bottom of the


downcomer and the tray deck.

Downcomer Contraction
Pressure Drop

Pressure drop of the liquid passing under the


downcomer.

Downcomer Filling

Height of liquid in the downcomer. It is often expressed


in inches of clear liquid or a percent (clear liquid) of the
tray spacing.

Downcomer Fooding

Overloading of the tray interspace with liquid, caused by


high downcomer filling.

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Downcomer Rise

The horizontal radial distance between the center of the


chord of a straight outboard downcomer and the vessel
wall.

Downcomer Seal

Hydraulic seal of the downcomer outlet. See figures in


the text.

Downcomers

Tower internals that allow the tray liquid to pass to the


tray below.

Dry-Tray Pressure Drop

Part of the pressure drop that is not related to the


presence of the liquid on the tray, that is, the pressure
of the vapor through the contacting device.

Dumped Packing

Packing type, consisting of small (2-in. is typical)


devices with large open space, placed in the tower
(dumped) in random orientation. A synonymous term is
random packing.

Dumping

Weeping of all the liquid, so that no liquid flows over the


weir.

Entrainment

Liquid carryover by the vapor to the tray above.

Flexibility

Refers to capacity related flexibility. See Turndown.

Flooding

Overloading of the tray interspace with liquid. Often, the


term refers to jet flooding.

Flow Regimes

The movement of liquid and vapor on a tray.

Free Area

The tray cross-sectional area available for vapor flow.

Froth

A flow regime in which vapor passes through a liquid on


the tray as discrete bubbles of irregular shape.

Grids

Countercurrent contacting devices fabricated in panels


and installed in an ordered manner. In contrast to
structured packing, grids provide wide clearances. See
the figures in the text.

Hole Area

The open area provided within the bubble area to


permit vapor to enter, contact, and pass through the
liquid on the tray.

Inboard Downcomer

Downcomer positioned by the vessel wall.

Jet Flooding

Overloading of the tray interspace with liquid, caused by


excessive entrainment.
A type of downcomer. See Figure 7 in Downcomer
Configuration section.

Modified Arc Downcomer

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Multiple Downcomer Tray

Proprietary type of tray. See figure in Downcomer


Configuration section.

Outboard Downcomer

Downcomer positioned by the vessel wall.

Packing

Devices that provide countercurrent vapor-liquid contact


in distillation columns.

Percent Jet Flood (% flood) The ratio, expressed as a percent, of the vapor velocity
between the trays, V, divided by the maximum vapor
velocity that will not cause flooding.
Plates

Contact points of all the vapor and liquid in a column,


such as it occurs on column trays. The term theoretical
plates is used to indicate that equilibrium is reached at
the contact point between all the vapor and all the
liquid. The actual plates reflect the obtained tray
efficiency. A synonymous term is stages.

Pumparound

Heat removal from a stream pumped from a tray to a


higher tray.

Random Packing

Packing type, consisting of small (2-in. is typical)


devices with large open space, placed in the tower
(dumped) in random orientation. A synonymous term is
dumped packing.

Seal Pan

Tower internal device placed over the inlet of an inboard


downcomer in order to prevent liquid from one side from
jumping to the other side. See figure in the text.

Sheds

A type of baffle section. See Figure 6 in the text.

Sieve Tray

A perforated plate type of tray.

Sloped Downcomer

A type of downcomer. See Figure 6 in Downcomer


Configuration section.

Spray

A flow regime in which a gas jet issuing from the orifice


shatters some liquid into droplets.

Stages

Contact points of all the vapor and liquid in a column,


such as occurs on column trays. The term theoretical
stages is used to indicate that equilibrium is reached at
the contact point between. The actual stages reflect the
obtained tray efficiency. A synonymous term is plates.

Stepped Downcomer

A type of downcomer. See Figure 7 in Downcomer


Configuration section.

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Straight Downcomer

Vertical straight downcomer across a chord of the tower


cross-section. Synonymous with chordal downcomer.
See Figure 7 in Downcomer Configuration section.

Structured Packing

Countercurrent contacting devices fabricated from thin


crimped sheets of metal and installed in layers having a
fixed orientation. See the figures in the text.

Superficial Velocity

Velocity based on the tower diameter rather than the


cross-sectional area available for flow.

Support Ring

Horizontal ring welded to the tower walls that are used


to support a tray.

Tower

See column.

Tray Loadings

Tray vapor and liquid rates.

Tray Pass Number

The number of individual paths of liquid on a tray.

Tray Spacing

The vertical distance between two trays.

Tray Turndown

The ratio of maximum to minimum tray loadings in a


range over which acceptable performance is achieved.

Truss

Tray support beam.

Turndown

Operation at reduced capacity.

Ultimate Capacity

The largest vapor load a tower can handle, as predicted


by the Stokes law on droplet entrainment.

Valve Tray

A type of tray with contacting devices that can be


opened and closed. See the figures in text.

Waste Area

Any area in the active area that is farther than 3 in. from
the edge of a contacting device.

Weeping

Liquid flow through the tray openings.

Weir

A vertical strip at the inlet or outlet of a tray used to


maintain liquid height on the tray or a liquid seal at the
outlet of the downcomer. See figure in text.

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ADDENDUM:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TOWER INTERNALS.................................................................................................... 63
Drawoffs ............................................................................................................. 63
Partial Drawoffs at Tray Inlet.................................................................... 63
Total Drawoffs at Tray Inlet...................................................................... 63
Details of Column Drawoffs ..................................................................... 64
Drawoff Nozzle Sizing.............................................................................. 65
Potential Hydraulic Problems at Drawoff Locations ............................................ 66
Reboiler Drawoffs .................................................................................... 67

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TOWER INTERNALS
Drawoffs
The liquid flowing down a column may be withdrawn partially or totally. A partial drawoff
normally does not exceed 60% of the internal reflux product at the drawoff tray.
Withdrawal should be from the inlet of a fractionating tray, from a blank tray, or from a
pan extending across the column. A complete pan should be used when appreciable
liquid holdup is required, as for product surge or water settling (SADP-C-001 3.1.4).
The following general principles should be used in designing drawoffs.
Partial Drawoffs at
Tray Inlet

A recessed box should be used under the downcomer with the drawoff nozzle on the
bottom or on the side of the box. The downward liquid velocity should not exceed 0.06
m/s (0.2 ft/s) based on the horizontal cross section. The depth of the box should be 1.5
times the drawoff nozzle diameter with a minimum of 152 mm (6 in.). If the length to
depth ratio of the box exceeds 1.5, a flat, antivortex baffle should be provided at tray
level. The drawoff box should not restrict the downcomer entrance on the tray below.
Total Drawoffs at
Tray Inlet

For a total liquid drawoff, a high overflow weir should be provided that will prevent the
liquid from flowing onto the next tray.
The tray spacing should be adequate to allow overflowing this weir without filling the
downcomer at a maximum tray pressure drop. A drawoff nozzle behind the downcomer
should be high enough to ensure that the downcomer will be sealed at the maximum
anticipated tray pressure drop. Locate the bottom of the drawoff nozzle not less than 1.5
times the maximum anticipated tray pressure drop above the bottom of the downcomer.

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Details of Column
Drawoffs

Vapor risers should be provided in a blank tray. The risers are sized based on a
pressure drop of 13 to 51 mm (0.5 to 2 in.) of liquid. The risers should be 152 mm (6 in.)
higher than the high liquid level. Flat baffles of the riser diameter should be placed
above and below the risers to improve the vapor distribution over the blank tray. The
annular area between baffles and riser should not be less than the riser cross section.
For a partial drawoff, the overflow weir should be notched to a depth of 200 to 250 mm
(8 to 10 in.) to minimize changes in overflow rate with fluctuations of liquid level. The
flow rate through the notches should be calculated from the following equations:

Q = 5.21 10 -5 b h on 1.5
where:

Q
b
hon

=
=
=

Liquid rate through notches, L/s


Notch width, mm.
Liquid height in notch, mm.

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Normal tray spacing is usually provided below a blank tray and above the high liquid
level on the blank tray.

Drawoff Nozzle Sizing


Partial Drawoffs - The nozzle size for a partial drawoff should be based on a liquid

velocity through the nozzle of 0.9 m/s (3 ft/s). For this velocity, the required nozzle
diameter should be determined from the following equations:
D = 37.3 Q
where:

0.5

D = Nozzle diameter, mm.


Q = Liquid rate through nozzle, L/s.

If the calculated nozzle size is less than the line size, the line size is used.
Total Drawoffs - The theoretical nozzle size should be calculated by the formula:

D = 54.8 Q

0.4

The actual nozzle size should have at least a 20% greater area than the calculated
theoretical size.

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Vapor Drawoffs, Bottom Drawoffs, and Blank Tray Drawoffs - These drawoffs should

have the same size as the connected line in cases where a liquid head of 0.3 m (1 ft) or
greater is available. When the available liquid head is less than 0.3 m (1 ft), the Total
Drawoffs formula should be used.
Coke Strainers - In vacuum pipestills and fractionators for cracked products, coke
strainers should be used to keep large pieces of coke out of the pump suction lines

Potential Hydraulic Problems at Drawoff Locations


Illustrates potential hydraulic problems at drawoff locations.

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Reboiler Drawoffs

Illustrate typical arrangements for drawoffs of recirculating - and once - through


reboilers for single-pass trays and double-pass trays.

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