(195e) Minimum Energy of Multicomponent Distillation Systems Using Minimum Additional Number of Heat and Mass Integration Sections
We propose a powerful and simple-to-use fact about heat and mass integration to consolidate distillation columns in a multicomponent distillation configuration. First, thermal couplings are introduced to all intermediate transfer streams in the distillation column. And then, distillation columns associated with a lighter final product reboiler and a heavier final product condenser are consolidated to produce a heat and mass integrated configuration. We call this novel set of configurations the HMP configurations. A systematic way of enumerating all HMP configurations for n-component separations is introduced, and the results for up to 7-component separations are presented for the first time. Also, we compare the energy savings of HMP configurations with the well-known fully thermally coupled (FTC) configuration via case studies. We demonstrate that HMP configurations can have very similar and sometimes even the same minimum total vapor duty requirement as the FTC configuration, while using far less number of column sections, intermediate transfer streams, and thermal couplings than the FTC configuration. These findings not only intensify the search space of distillation configurations, but also provide industrial practitioners with insights in designing energy efficient distillation configurations that are easy to operate and control.