An introduction

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Types of Columns

Basic Equipment and Operation

Column Internals


Distillation Principles

Vapour Liquid Equilibria

Distillation Column Design

Effects of the Number of Trays or Stages

Factors Affecting Operation


Other Resources

Copyright Information

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Distillation Tower

Distillation is defined as:

a process in which a liquid or vapour mixture of two or more substances is separated into its component fractions of desired purity, by the application and removal of heat.

Distillation is based on the fact that the vapour of a boiling mixture will be richer in the components that have lower boiling points.

Therefore, when this vapour is cooled and condensed, the condensate will contain more volatile components. At the same time, the original mixture will contain more of the less volatile material.

Distillation columns are designed to achieve this separation efficiently.

Although many people have a fair idea what "distillation" means, the important aspects that seem to be missed from the manufacturing point of view are that:

p distillation is the most common separation technique

■p it consumes enormous amounts of energy, both in terms of cooling and heating requirements p it can contribute to more than 50% of plant operating costs

The best way to reduce operating costs of existing units, is to improve their efficiency and operation via process optimisation and control. To achieve this improvement, a thorough understanding of distillation principles and how distillation systems are designed is essential.

The purpose of this set of notes is to expose you to the terminology used in distillation practice and to give a very basic introduction to:

■p types of columns

■p basic distillation equipment and operation ■p column internals ■p reboilers distillation principles vapour liquid equilibria distillation column design and the factors that affect distillation column operation vapour liquid equilibria

Types Laboratory Distillation ColumnDistillation Alcohol

Distillation Systems & Evaporators

™ ^^ ■ " ^ Stand alone and skid mounted packaged distillation and evaporation plants are a specialty for our firm.

We offer a complete package for the optimization of existing batch distillation operations using process simulation, laboratory analysis, and a process automation package for improving yield volumes and purities.

We can design both batch and continuous units for chemical, petrochemical, biodiesel, glycerol, petroleum separations or waste concentration and water recovery. Large columns are installed at your facility off skid. We custom build to your needs with electronic instrumentation, PLC of your choice, Wonderware interface and for Group D Class I Division 2 if required.

Chemcad Distillation

We can also provide column startup support, troubleshooting and revamp services to increase plant capacity. Use use ChemCad 5.5 exclusively for design, troubleshooting, and processing capacity improvements.

Examples include high purity hydrogen peroxide, various specialty chemicals, amine units for natural gas and biogas sweetening, EDC, glycols, petrochemicals and more.

We provide design of biodiesel distillation systems for the removal of methanol and glycerol distillation systems also for the removal of methanol. This allows you to meet the biodiesel ASTM method D 93 specification for methanol content. The closed cup flash point must be above 130 °C (266 ° F). The recovery of methanol from both streams greatly enhances your economics.

We also offer the Klaren Self Cleaning Fluid Bed Heat Exchanger. This is the perfect solution for reboilers that foul and ultimately plug. This can dramatically increase your onstream time. Please call, FAX or E-mail for an information packet.

An excellent document Distillation - An Introduction is highly recommended reading.

Reactive Distillation

We offer full R&D, engineering design and support for your reactive distillation project. We simulate reactive distillation with ChemCad 5.5 also. An interesting site on reactive distillation is shown here at the University of Oldenburg and another at the University of Michigan. Typical reactions that are good candidates for reactive distillation are:


Aldol condensation










Also Visit our Free Engineering Software Page and our Home Page.

Distillation Column Internals / Distillation Design Software

Major Producers of distillation column internals are listed below for your convenience. Many have free software that is available by request.

Saint-Gobain NorPro Corporation (Formerly Norton)

Jaeger Products, Inc.

Sulzer Chemtech


Koch-Glitsch, Inc. ACS Industries, Inc. Lantec Products, Inc. Rauschert Industries, Inc.

Scientific Glass & Plastic


Do you have a question about distillation?

Email: Name: Phone: Address:



Forums are the best source of "peer-reviewed" engineering information on the Internet! Chemical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Pharmaceutical Engineers, and Safety Professionals can join here:

Raschig Jaeger

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E-MAIL: [email protected]

Please contact us to discuss ways in which we can assist you in saving time and money with your engineering projects.

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    What Factors that affects the design of distillation column?
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