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Gas Trapping Can Unsettle Distillation Columns

By Henry Z. Kister |

Operational troubleshooting guidance is provided for several scenarios involving trapped non-condensable gases in distillation towers Non-condensable gases are often present in distillation towers, either expectedly or unexpectedly. When they do appear, or when the quantity of non-condensable gases varies from the design or expectation, they can adversely affect condensation, cause instability or lead to excessive venting and product loss. Some of the causes of gas trapping issues are well known, while others remain obscure. This article briefly describes the better-known issues, while focusing on those that are more obscure, presenting experiences in which non-condensable gas trapping led to operating problems. Gas trapping issues in distillation towers can be classified into three groups: Gas trapping due to tower or auxiliary equipment hardware Gas trapping due to liquid head Unexpected quantity of gas (high or low) entering the tower Each of these points are addressed and discussed in this article, with some guidelines for preventing and overcoming gas-trapping issues.   Equipment-related gas trapping Gas-trapping issues associated with the tower equipment itself, or its auxiliary equipment hardware, are some of…
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