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Comment PDF Separation Processes

Seeking out difficult situations

By Chemical Engineering |

In 1952, 37 companies established Fractionation Research, Inc. (FRI). Most of those original members are now gone or absorbed by other companies. Nevertheless, their goal was to study distillation in columns having diameters and heights that were similar to industrial columns. The columns of the world were getting larger and more numerous and were too often being designed using bench-top apparatuses and rules of thumb. If it were not for that early initiative, what we know today about practical operation of distillation columns would probably be very different. The original test columns were located on a C.F. Braun property in Alhambra, California. After about 35 years of very successful operation, the columns were moved to the Oklahoma State University (OSU) campus, which is where they still reside. History has shown that Oklahoma weather is not as friendly to turnarounds and operations as was California, but at least the unit was not moved to Fort Saskatchewan. The FRI technicians and operators are a very sturdy lot and often remind me of a line from the cult-classic movie “Repo Man” that goes something like this, “Most people spend their entire lives trying to keep out of difficult situations; repo men…
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