Non-pinched, minimum energy distillation designs

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Non-pinched, minimum energy solutions are important class of distillation designs that offer the potential advantage of a better trade-off between capital investment and operating costs. In this paper, two important tasks associated with non-pinched distillation designs are studied. Thus the novel contributions of this work to the literature are(1)A comprehensive methodology for finding non-pinched minimum energy designs.(2)Understanding of the reasons for the existence of non-pinched distillation designs. It is shown that the recent shortest stripping line distance approach of Lucia et al. [Lucia, A., Amale, A. and Taylor, R., 2007, Distillation pinch points and more. Comput Chem Eng, available on-line] is capable of systematically and reliably finding non-pinched, minimum energy distillation designs. In addition, we provide an understanding of the reasons behind the existence of non-pinched designs, which include trajectories that follow unstable branches of a pinch point curve in azeotropic systems, the inherent looping structure of trajectories in hydrocarbon separations, and the presence of ancillary constraints in multi-unit processes like extraction/distillation. Several distillation examples are studied and many numerical results and geometric illustrations are presented that show the shortest stripping line distance methodology is indeed a powerful and systematic tool for computing non-pinched, minimum energy designs and that support the underlying reason we provide for the existence of non-pinched designs. © 2008 The Institution of Chemical Engineers.

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Chemical Engineering Research and Design