American Chemical Society
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Improved Design and Efficiency of the Extractive Distillation Process for Acetone–Methanol with Water

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-01-14, 00:00 authored by Xinqiang You, Ivonne Rodriguez-Donis, Vincent Gerbaud
We show how thermodynamic insight can be used to improve the design of a homogeneous extractive distillation process, and we define an extractive efficiency indicator to compare the optimality of different designs. The case study is related to the separation of the acetone–methanol minimum boiling azeotrope with water. The process flow sheet includes both the extractive distillation column and the entrainer regeneration column. Insight from analysis of the ternary residue curve map and isovolatility curves shows that a lower pressure reduces the minimal amount of entrainer needed and increases the relative volatility of acetone–methanol in the extractive column. A 0.6 atm pressure is selected to enable the use of cheap cooling water in the condenser. We optimize the entrainer flow rate, adjusting both column reflux ratios and feed locations, by minimizing the total energy consumption per product unit. The total annualized cost (TAC) is calculated for all processes. Double-digit savings in energy consumption and in TAC are achieved compared to literature values. We then propose a novel efficiency indicator that describes the ability per tray of extractive section to discriminate the desired product between the top and the bottom of the extractive section. Shifting the feed trays’ locations improves the efficiency of the separation, even when less entrainer is used.