May 2005

Process Technology/Distillation

Optimize process operation with new vacuum distillation methods

Advanced fluid dynamics modeling fine-tunes vacuum separations that improve products' qualities and increase unit reliability

Sloley, A. W., CH2M Hill; Kiong NG, W., Kolmetz, K., Lim, Y. T., Senthil, K., Sulzer Chemtech; Zygula, T. M., Nova Chemicals

Refining and petrochemical processes use vacuum distillation to recover desired end products. Yet, vacuum distillation uses demanding and extreme processing conditions. Vapor velocities are high, and liquid rates are often low. Unit operations can suffer from coking, product degradation and equipment reliability problems. Past vacuum distillation designs suffered from "hit or miss" strategies and poorly understood plant experiences. However, new developments for vacuum tower internals and better design methods increase distillation efficiencies and raise product recovery rates. The following case histories demonstrate several of the best operating practices now available for crude oil

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