(382c) Process Intensification in Multicomponent Distillation
Process intensification (PI) is an emerging concept in chemical engineering which describes the design innovations that lead to significant shrink in size and dramatic boost in efficiency in a process plant. Distillation, which accounts for 90-95% of all separations in a chemical plant and ~3% of the worldâs energy consumption, is therefore a crucial component in PI. In the context of multicomponent distillation, we believe that PI stands for minimizing the number of pieces of equipment as well as total cost while maintaining high efficiency through innovative process synthesis. This will lead to compact, easy-to-operate, energy efficient and cost effective processes. Here, we consider several different levels of PI in multicomponent distillation, including: 1) Introducing thermal couplings that eliminates some or all reboilers and condensers to save energy and reduce capital cost; 2) Using multi-effect distillation along with converting thermal couplings to liquid-only transfers to further reduce heat duty, enhance energy efficiency, and improve operability of thermally coupled distillation configurations; 3) Performing simultaneous heat and mass integration among thermally coupled distillation columns to reduce the number of columns and heat duty requirement; 4) Conducting any thermally coupled distillation in only one single column shell using the form of a dividing wall column that is fully operable; 5) Being able to systematically derive numerous configurations that use 1 to (ðâ2) column shells from a traditional (ðâ1)-column configuration. Here, we demonstrate these aspects of PI through examples, illustrating the importance of PI in multicomponent distillation and how this concept can be utilized by process engineers to design cost effective and energy efficient distillation systems.