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Commercialization is set for a new distillation technology

By Gerald Parkinson |

A new distillation device developed by UOP LLC (Des Plaines, Ill.; www.uop.com) will make its commercial debut in an ethylene separation column at LG Chem, Ltd.’s petrochemical plant in Yeosu, South Korea. Scheduled for startup in the near future, the revamped column is expected to process twice as much ethylene as it previously did with conventional distillation trays. The capacity of conventional sieve or fixed valve trays is limited by the froth height and the amount of liquid entrainment that can be achieved, notes Greg Wisniewski, product line manager for UOP process equipment. UOP’s technology, called SimulFlow, avoids frothing by entraining all the liquid in the vapor at each column stage. Its high capacity is achieved by simultaneous cocurrent liquid and vapor flow, within a contacting channel, and by efficient vapor-liquid phase separators. SimulFlow differs from a sieve deck tray in that it has multiple horizontal contacting modules. Each includes a downcomer and two vapor-liquid separators. The latter are located on opposite sides of the downcomer, forming two vapor-liquid coflow channels between the downcomer and the separators (see diagram). Downflowing liquid is distributed through spouts at the bottom of…
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