EXTERNALLY THERMALLY COUPLED DISTILLATION COLUMNS

In terms of the thermodynamic characteristics of simple distillation columns, a novel schematic of an externally heat-integrated double distillation column (EHIDDiC) is proposed and studied in this work. It consists of high-pressure and low-pressure distillation columns, with external heat integration between the whole rectifying section of the former and the whole stripping section of the latter. In comparison with conventional distillation systems (i.e., direct and indirect separation sequences), the EHIDDiC was found to require relatively small capital investment and low operating costs. It can even outperform conventional distillation systems with the condenser/reboiler type of heat integration under some favorable operating conditions. In terms of the separation of a ternary ideal mixture containing hypothetical components A, B, and C, the EHIDDiC was evaluated through intensive comparisons with its conventional counterparts. Sensitivity analysis was also conducted with respect to some relevant physical properties and design parameters, including the relative volatilities, feed composition, external heat-transfer area per stage, product specifications, and utility costs. It was confirmed that the EHIDDiC can be advantageous over conventional distillation systems with and without condenser/ reboiler-type heat integration, and the results obtained reflect the salient characteristics of the EHIDDiC.
Principle and Configuration of the EHIDDiC

For a conventional distillation column, the rectifying section (or the equivalent section in the case of a multiple-feed distillation column) releases heat during operation and is thus reasonably considered as a potential heat source. In contrast, the stripping section (or the equivalent section in the case of a multiple-feed distillation column) absorbs heat during operation and is thus reasonably considered as a potential heat sink. Hence, heat integration can be arranged between the rectifying section and the stripping section of two individual distillation columns. With regard to the necessary temperature driving forces, heat integration can be achieved with the sole adjustment of the pressure of each distillation column, thus circumventing the use of an expensive compressor and throttle valve. These factors represent the primary advantages of the EHIDDiC over the ideal HIDiC. Figure 2 shows a schematic of the EHIDDiC. As can be seen, the whole rectifying section of the HP distillation column is stage-by-stage heat-integrated with the whole stripping section of the LP distillation column. Because of the external heat integration, either the reboiler of the LP distillation column or the condenser of the HP distillation column can be omitted (although not simultaneously because of the mismatch between their heat duties), which is closely dependent on the relative magnitudes of their heat duties. This offers a possibility of simultaneously reducing capital investment and operating costs.

3. Illustrative Example: Separation of a Ternary Ideal Mixture with Hypothetical Components

A ternary close-boiling mixture with hypothetical components A, B, and C is purified into relative pure substances with composition specifications of 99.0 mol % each. Because two simple distillation columns are needed in the separation operation, the specifications of the intermediate products are fixed arbitrarily at 0.25 mol % for component A in the direct separation sequence (DSS) and 0.25 mol % for component C in the indirect separation sequence (ISS), although they should be subjected to a detailed optimization study. Ideal vapor-liquid equilibrium behavior is assumed, with component A being the lightest and component C the heaviest. The relative volatilities between these hypothetical components are independent of the changes in mixture composition and system pressure. Equal latent heats are assumed for the three components, and sensible heat can be ignored as compared with latent heat. Table 1 summarizes the physical properties and design specifications for the separation problem. The ideal vapor-liquid equilibrium is expressed as

andC (2) PiS represents the .i/T i ) A.P)xAPS+xBPS+xCPS (1) where P signifies the system pressure and saturation pressure. which is given by the Antoine equation ln PiS ) Avp.B.i .Bvp.

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