(409b) Distillation Column Systems

A method for systematic generation of all possible multicomponent distillation configurations and for evaluating their energy requirements is described. Conventional configurations (with sharp splits of one feed stream into two products) and complex column systems are generated by listing all the possible splits between the components and applying various types of interconnecting streams and column stacking. Energy requirements are evaluated by calculating minimum vapor flows in these configurations. It turns out that fully thermally coupled configurations can often be replaced by simpler column systems without a significant energy penalty. The method can be used to select the optimum configuration for a new design or to improve an existing plant.