April 2016 – Properly designed vapor and liquid distribution devices enable more effective distillation column efficiency
Number of trays and packed bed height are both primary parameters in determining the degree of separation of a distillation column. However, this factor alone cannot guarantee targeted distillation column efficiency. Vapor and liquid distribution devices play a vital role and overlooking these critical items often brings inferior results. The importance of vapor and liquid distribution design is more emphasized for a packed column where column efficiency is more sensitive to liquid and vapor distribution.
This article will discuss commonly overlooked items in vapor and liquid distribution devices. Actual retrofits for packed fractionators, which examine how column efficiency enhancements are achieved through careful analysis and design procedures, are demonstrated through two case studies: a crude atmospheric column in a petroleum refinery and a demethanizer in a natural gas processing plant. Useful methodologies for evaluating vapor and liquid devices and for remedies are also illustrated.
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