Optimal Design and Effective Control of the tert-Amyl Methyl Ether Production Process Using an Integrated Reactive Dividing Wall and Pressure Swing Columns

Design of the tert-amyl methyl ether (TAME) production process has received much attention because TAME is an important oxygenated gasoline additive with much fewer environmental and health issues than methyl tert-butyl ether. Although a reactive dividing wall column where reaction and separation take place in one vessel has been developed with less capital and operating cost, little work on its application to TAME production has been reported. In this paper, we propose a new overall procedure for optimal design of the TAME production process through an integrated reactive dividing wall and pressure swing columns, which includes screening of the best dividing wall configuration, thermodynamic feasible insight, and process simulation and optimization using the sensitivity analysis tool in Aspen Plus. The computational results demonstrate that the optimal design of the TAME production process through an integrated reactive dividing wall and pressure swing column is successfully obtained to achieve desired TAME purity of 99.958 mol %, significantly reducing the total annualized cost by 43.58% and decreasing the exergy loss by 48.24% compared to the existing TAME production process using reactive distillation. Finally, an effective control strategy including tray temperature control is proposed to ensure the operating conditions are well controlled at or close to their set points in a desired time when disturbances occur.