In Chapter 3 we studied how to design a distillation column given the feed conditions, the desired product specifications, and the total number of stages. The calculated design parameters included the operating pressure of the column, the reboiler and condenser heat duties, and the length and diameter of the column vessel.
In this chapter the steady-state economic optimization of a distillation column is discussed. Basically, we need to find the optimum number of total stages. There are some simple approaches, and there are more rigorous approaches. The simple methods use heuristics such as setting the total number of trays equal to twice the minimum. The rigorous methods determine how the capital and energy costs change with the number of trays and find the minimum total annual cost design.
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