Chemical Engineering Research & Design, Vol.92, No.3, 391-404, 2014
Optimal design of catalytic distillation columns: A case study on synthesis of TAEE
The design of catalytic distillation (CD) columns is a challenging task because of the superposition of chemical reaction and distillation in one apparatus. In this work, a method to design a cost-optimal CD column for chemical systems with large number of components and chemical reactions is presented. The method is based on the following steps: (1) estimation of the number of theoretical stages and catalyst volume by the decomposition of the CD column into a sequence of chemical reactors and non-reactive distillation columns, (2) estimation of the column diameter and operating conditions using an equilibrium stage model, and (3) design of the column applying an optimisation algorithm and using a rigorous non-equilibrium stage model to represent the CD process. The method is applied to determine the optimal column configuration and operating conditions for the synthesis of tert-amyl ethyl ether from ethanol and isoamylenes. Eight components and four chemical reactions were selected to represent the chemical system in the simulations. (C) 2013 The Institution of Chemical Engineers. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.