Distillation is the dominant separation process in the petroleum, petrochemical and chemical industries. Distillation is also a dominant energy consumer in those industries. Yet, despite its maturity as an operation, distillation still offers significant scope for improvement.
How can we make a significant reduction in the energy costs for distillation?
Heat integration has proven to be successful in reducing the energy costs for conventional distillation arrangements. In the case of crude oil distillation, it is now possible to optimize the design of the column and its heat exchanger network simultaneously. This allows significant improvements over and above what is possible by optimizing the column design and heat exchanger network design separately.
The State-of-art Approaches Provided by PIL
However, the scope for integrating conventional distillation columns is often limited. Such limitations call for non-conventional column designs to be considered. Complex distillation designs that can be considered include side-stream columns, side-strippers, side rectifiers, pre-fractionators and fully thermally coupled pre-fractionators. Side-strippers, side rectifiers and fully thermally coupled pre-fractionators can be constructed in a single shell through the use of partitions, or dividing walls. Such complex column designs can offer both significant energy and capital cost savings.