W

where s1 and h1 refer to conditions before the separation and s2 and h2 refer to conditions after the separation. For a binary system, and assuming a perfect gas for both components, Eq. (11-117) simplifies to

where nA and nB are the moles of A and B in the mixture, pA and pB are the partial pressures of these two components in the mixture, and PT is the total pressure of the mixture. The figure of merit for a separation system is defined similar to that for a liquefaction system; see Eq. (11-110).

If the mixture to be separated is essentially a binary, both the McCabe-Thiele and the Ponchon-Savarit methods outlined in Sec. 13, with the appropriate cryogenic properties, can be used to obtain the ideal number of stages required. It should be noted, however, that it is not satisfactory in the separation of air to treat it as a binary mixture of oxygen and nitrogen if high purity (99 percent or better) oxygen is desired. The separation of oxygen from argon is a more difficult separation than oxygen from nitrogen and would require correspondingly many more plates. In fact, if the argon is not extracted from air, only 95 percent oxygen would be produced. The other rare gas constituents of air-helium, neon, krypton, and xenon are present in such small quantities and have boiling points so far removed from those of oxygen and nitrogen that they introduce no important complications.

Air-Separation Systems Of the various separation schemes available today, the simplest is known as the Linde single-column system shown in Fig. 11-117 and first introduced in 1902. In it, purified compressed air passes through a precooling heat exchanger (if oxygen gas is the desired product, a three-channel exchanger for air, waste nitrogen, and oxygen gas is used; if liquid oxygen is to be recovered from the bottom of the column, a two-channel exchanger for air and waste nitrogen is employed), then through a coil in the boiler of the rectifying column where it is further cooled (acting at the same time as the boiler heat source); following this, it expands essentially to atmospheric pressure through a J-T valve and reenters the top of the column with the liquid providing the required reflux. Rectification occurs as liquid and vapor on each plate establish equilibrium. If oxygen gas is to be the product, purified air need only be compressed to a pressure of 3 to 6 MPa; if the product is to be liquid oxygen, a compressor outlet pressure of 20 MPa is necessary. Note that the Linde single-column separation system is simply a J-T liquefaction system with a substitution of a rectification column for the liquid reservoir. However, any of the other liquefaction systems discussed earlier could have been used to furnish the liquid for the column.

In a simple single-column process, although the oxygen purity is high, the nitrogen effluent stream is impure. The equilibrium vapor

Oxygen Nitrogen

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