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Distillation Column Design Factors

By Stephen Benbrook, EPIC Systems; edited by Scott Jenkins |

Distillation is a critical separation tool for many applications in the chemical process industries (CPI), and the intelligent design of a distillation column can have a large impact on eventual process performance and efficiency. This reference sheet outlines the design process for distillation columns and defines several key design factors in this area. Column design process Distillation column design is best accomplished using process simulation software, such as Aspen HYSYS or a similar program. Balancing the key design factors shown in Table 1 starts by sizing the column for maximum superficial vapor velocity (vapor factor Fs). Once a working design is established, engineers should check the ratio between flowrate (gallons-per-minute; gpm) and column area (gpm/ft2). The next step should be to ensure that flood ratio, weeping point, reflux ratio, and efficiency ratios are all within reasonable parameters. For basic categories of column internals, the appropriate ratio ranges are shown in Table 2. Column designers should use these ranges as a guide to ensure that the appropriate column design and packing have been selected.   Best practices for factors For the flood ratios, the limit is 100%. A good rule of thumb for new…
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