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This is the second primer for using Aspen Plus® software. It focuses on using design features of the simulation software and builds on the first Primer. It does not review startup or most other issues discussed in the first primer. Aspen can vary column parameters to optimize reflux ratios, mole recoveries, etc. It can also automatically optimize the number of stages required to minimize, for example, the reboiler duty or molar reflux ratio. This primer briefly reviews how the problem can be set up for these types of calculations.
Within Aspen, design specifications that can be automatically targeted appear in Table 1
Table 1 Summary of Aspen Design specifications
Design Specification Stream purity Component recovery Flow rate Component ratio Stage temperature Stream property value Stream property difference Stream property ratio Distillate flow rate Bottoms flow rate Reflux flow rate Boilup flow rate Reflux ratio Boilup ratio Condenser duty Reboiler duty
Specifies Purity of product, internal, or decanter stream(s) Recovery of component (s) in product stream(s) based on feed stream(s) Flow rate of product, internal, or decanter stream(s) Ratio of flow of component(s) of an internal stream to flow of component (s) of internal, feed, or product stream(s) Temperature on a specific stage Property value of a product or internal stream Difference of two property values based on product or internal stream(s) Ratio of two property values based on product or internal stream(s) Distillate flow rate Bottoms flow rate Reflux flow rate from condenser Boilup flow rate Ratio of reflux flow rate to distillate flow rate Ratio of boilup flow rate to bottoms flow rate Condenser duty Reboiler duty
Notably absent from this list is the number of stages, which is discussed later. The design specification is entered in the Design Specification node within the block that defines a distillation column. Commonly, several design specifications provide a complete design. The specific example here assumes a 50:50 mixture of nbutanol and isobutanol and uses UNIQUAC thermodynamics models. An atmospheric-pressure column with a total condenser and with a distillate to feed ratio of 0.5 and a nominal reflux ratio of 15 should be specified if you want to make quantitative comparisons with this example. The column in this example has 25 equilibrium stages with the feed on stage 15. In this example, mole recovery specifies the amount of a feed component recovered in the distillate and bottoms feeds, respectively. To make such specification:
2 .975) as the target specification. Select the component on which to base this recovery (isobutanol) and the stream to which it corresponds (2 – or distillate) by clicking on the Components and Streams tabs respectively and selecting the appropriate information (or click on N-> to be guided to these sheets automatically). Select New in the Design Specifications dialog box under the Block node of the Data Browser tree section (see Figure 1).5% recovery of nbutanol in the bottoms. 4.Figure 1Data entry dialog box for design specifications. 2. 1. in this case the second choice in molar units. or Mole Recovery. Enter the target value for this recovery (0. Accept the default name of 1 for this specification 3. 5. Select an appropriate design specification in the next dialog box (Figure 2) from Table 1. A second design specification (Design Specification 2) should be similarly constructed for 97.
In this case. These must be selected from the two operating specifications established in the column Setup dialog box. At least one and no more than two varying parameters are specified in this node. Create a new Vary object by selecting New in the Vary dialog box under the Block node of the Data Browser.Figure 2Dialog box for specifying the specifications for Design Specs 1. Reflux ratio will vary as the program attempts to meet the design specifications of 97. The following procedure outlines how to make such specifications: 1. reflux ratio and distillate to feed ratio where chosen as the operating specifications in the Setup dialog box. Varying Parameters The parameters to vary to meet the design specifications previously entered in the program appear in the Vary node of the Block tree.5% molar purity in each of the distillate and bottoms feeds. 3 .
The program will either meet the design specification or come as close as it can to meeting it within the constraints of the varying parameter. it will either produce 97. To initiate this calculation. the reflux ratio may vary from 0. in this case Reflux Ratio.5% pure alcohol streams or it will come as close as it can by varying the reflux ratio from 0. Design Calculation The program is now prepared to vary the reflux ratio to meet the design specifications.5 to 25. In this example. The Results tab on this dialog box will display the actual reflux ratio used in the program to meet the design specification after the computations complete (see next section). In this example. Enter the range over which the design parameter (Reflux Ratio) may be varied to meet the Design Specifications. press the next button (N->). Select the design parameter to be varied from the Adjusted Variable drop-down box. 3.2.5 to 25. Figure 3Dialog box for specifying the parameter and its range of variation that should be varied to meet the design specifications. it 4 . That is.
The resulting recoveries appear under the Results tabs of the design specifications (97. the reboiler or condenser heat demand or the reflux ratios.meets the specification with a reflux ratio of 19.5 in both cases) and the resulting reflux ratio appear under the Results tab of the Vary specification (19. Figure 4NQ Curve object specification in Aspen. Heat Demand Since column design often involves varying the number of stages vs. Optimizing Stages vs. The primary steps in entering these data are as follows: 1. Aspen provides an automatic method to analyze this tradeoff. Create a new NQ Curve object by selecting New in the initial dialog box.5. The NQ Curves node of the Blocks section of the Data Browser tree for a given column enables these calculations.5 in this case). Begin with the column specifications in the same stage as it was left after varying Reflux Ratio to meet design specifications. Figure 4 illustrates the dialog box used to specify parameters for NQ Curves calculations. 5 .
In the dialog box (Figure 4). Generally. finding an optimum feed stage location for each number of stages modeled. conceptually similar optimizations can be performed by combinations of heat duties or by varying reflux or other parameters. For this example. In this case. etc. called the objective function (see below). select a design objective. Alternatively. This is normally either 1 or 2 – 1 in this case. Finally. It selects the optimum design based on the design objective (objective function) specified in this box. Enter a step size (number of stages by which the column optimization will change) in the indicated box. Do so by pressing the next button (N->). The program is now prepared to make these calculations. Figure 5 illustrating typical results.5 with the indicated reboiler and condenser duties. 6 . the reflux ratio. it will find the least number of stages and the optimum feed location based on minimizing the reboiler duty. 4. operating costs – that is taller towers vs. With such data. That is. 6. the calculations consider columns ranging from 25 to 30 stages.3. Specify the stream number that represents the feed stream. Accept the default name of 1. Then set the lower and upper limits to 25 and 30. Each of these calculations includes an optimal feed stage for the given number of total stages. with the feed at Stage 17 and a reflux ratio of 9. enter the lower and upper limits of the number of stages you wish to consider in this optimization. In the classical design approach. 5. designers can select either taller columns or higher reflux ratios to accomplish a given separation. 3. increase this number to 30. The upper limit may not exceed the number entered in the column Set Up dialog box when the column was first established.2. a similar separation occurs with 26 stages and the feed (optimized) at Stage 15 and a reflux ratio of 15. the tradeoff between these two depends primarily on capital vs. However. The results of the calculations appear under the results node of the NQ Curves object. the objective function is the reboiler duty (or occasionally the condenser duty) as a function of the number of stages. higher heat/cooling demands in these towers. The NQ Curves object systematically varies the number of stages and the feed stage location. The sequence continue through 30 stages.1. The summary data included here (accessed from the Basic Results tab in the Results node of the NQ Curves object) indicate that a column with 25 stages has an optimal feed location at Stage 13 and a reflux ratio of 19.
7 . feed location. and resulting condenser and reboiler duties and reflux ratios during an NQ Curves calculation.Figure 5Example of optimized number of stages.
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