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Comment PDF Separation Processes

Distillation: Avoid Problems During Tower Startup

By André Bernard NOVA Chemicals (Canada) Ltd. |

A variety of performance problems can arise in distillation towers during startup. Many are caused by equipment, hardware or process conditions. Hardware issues may be related to instrumentation, tower internals or ancillaries. Instrumentation malfunctions are also common during startup and are predominantly related to liquid level indicators, online analysis of key components and in some cases, flowmeters. If not properly compensated, flowmeters can mislead the operator on streams operating outside the normal design envelope. Vessel-isolation blinds, valve alignments or unexpected obstructions in valves can also restrict or misdirect flows. Any of these issues could lead to hazardous conditions and ultimately process incidents. Anomalies in tower internals, such as obstructions, mechanical damage or poor installation can also cause towers to perform poorly. Meanwhile, issues related to process conditions could arise in all operations conducted from the point of shutdown to getting the tower ready for startup, during the startup itself, and ultimately during steady-state operation. The presence of unexpected impurities, such as water, are also known to cause problems during distillation, or in some cases may result in pressure surges. Meanwhile,…
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