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Comment PDF Separation Processes

Propelling distillation research

By Mike Resetarits, Fractionation Research Institute |

I have 70 supervisors. It sometimes feels like I am pulled in 70 different directions — north, south, east, west, up, down and inside-out. But even after two years at this job, I can still hold my hand steady — if I put it in a vice. Nevertheless, I feel that I have the best job in the distillation world; I am technical director at Fractionation Research, Inc. (FRI; Stillwater, Okla.; http://www.fri.org). FRI is a consortium of 70 companies that pool portions of their annual distillation research budgets to collectively perform distillation research. My 70 supervisors are 70 distillation experts from 70 global companies, which include petroleum refiners, chemical companies, engineering companies and vendors of distillation equipment, particularly trays and packing. Each of those companies seems to have different distillation needs and focuses, from thermodynamics to intensification, from crude columns to beer columns, from tray development to packing troubleshooting, and so on. The bulk of FRI’s research budget is spent in Stillwater, Okla., where the membership owns two large distillation columns. The low pressure column is operated at pressures ranging from 10 mmHg to 165 psia (11.4 bara). The lower section is…
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