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Title: Synthesis of multicomponent azeotropic distillation sequences
Author: Liu, Guilian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2676 9977
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2003
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A large number of distillation sequences can be generated to separate a multicomponent azeotropic mixture. However, there is no systematic and efficient method for synthesising promising sequences, which also consider recycle connections and flowrates. In this work, a systematic procedure is developed for synthesising economically promising distillation sequences separating multicomponent homogeneous azeotropic mixtures. The procedure uses spherically approximated distillation boundaries, a shortcut column design method, and allows recycle and sequence alternatives to be screened. Both feasibility and design are addressed. Approximation of a distillation boundary as a spherical surface is a simple nonlinear, yet more accurate representation of the actual boundary than a linear approximation. For shortcut column design, azeotropes are treated as pseudocomponents and the relative volatilities of all singular points of the system are characterised, based on the transformation of vapour-liquid equilibrium behaviour in terms of pure components into that in terms of singular points. Once the relative volatilities of singular points are obtained, the classical Fenske-Underwood-Gilliland method can be used to design columns separating azeotropic mixtures. This method is extremely computationally efficient and can be applied to homogeneous azeotropic mixtures with any number of components; the results are useful for initialising rigorous simulations using commercial software and for assessing feasibility of proposed splits. Together with the spherical approximation of distillation boundaries, this shortcut method provides a basis for evaluating distillation sequences with recycles. Analysis of feasibility requirements of splits, component recovery requirements and the effects of recycles on the performance of proposed splits allows rules and procedures for selecting recycles to be proposed. Recycles with compositions of either singular points or mixtures of singular points are identified that are beneficial to the feasibility of sequences and the recovery of components. The principles are applicable to azeotropic mixtures with any number of components; using these procedures, recycle structures can be generated and are much simpler than the superstructures of recycle alternatives. The sequence synthesis procedure of Thong and Jobson (2001c) allows all potentially feasible sequences to be generated. To screen among these sequences, a split feasibility test and a two-step screening procedure are proposed. In the first step, feasibility of splits is tested efficiently and sequences containing either infeasible or sloppy splits are eliminated. In the second step, sequences containing sloppy splits are generated, based on the evaluation of sequences containing only feasible sharp splits. Using this procedure, the number of distillation sequences identified using the procedure of Thong and Jobson (2001c) can be significantly reduced. A systematic methodology is proposed for the synthesis and evaluation of multicomponent homogeneous azeotropic distillation sequences. The methodology is computationally efficient. It is demonstrated through a case study, the synthesis of distillation sequences separating a five-component mixture, in which two homogeneous azeotropes are formed, and for which over 5000 sequences producing pure component products can be generated. Using this methodology, only ten sequences are evaluated to identify three promising sequences. The evaluation of each sequence using the shortcut column design method is extremely efficient compared with that using the boundary value method.
Supervisor: Jobson, Megan ; Smith, Robin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Multicomponent Azeotropic Distillation Sequences