Operation of a Binary Distillation Column - Level 1PSE/ICD-E

Who should attend?

  • This course provides a comprehensive and working knowledge of distillation columns operating conditions and parameters through a hands-on experience.
Audience :
  • Experienced field operators preparing for console operations.

Level : Proficiency

Course Content


      • Volatility of pure compounds: boiling point, vapor pressure.
      • Properties of simple hydrocarbon mixtures.
      • Sensible and latent heat: definitions, differences in magnitude and their association with changes of physical state, i.e., vaporization and condensation.
      • Behavior of mixtures in distillation: dew and bubble points, incomplete condensation and vaporization, liquid-vapor separation and distribution of lights and heavy compounds.
      • Relation between temperature, pressure and the composition of the products.

      • Familiarization with simulator controllers, face plates, trends, and control loops.
      • Study of the circuits, instrumentation and control loops around the column.
      • Principles of a distillation column: liquid and vapor traffic, role of the condenser and reboilers, trays and packing.
      • Analysis of the operating conditions: significance of measured values and calculated variables.
      • Mass balance, representation of the separation, pressure profiles, composition profiles, temperature profiles, illustrating the link between these profiles and the operating parameters.

      • Operating parameters of the column and analysis of their influences:
      • Reflux flow rate modifications: action, consequences on mass balance, purities, and internal profiles.
      • Flow rate of hot oil at the reboiler: modifications of the duty and consequences on the operating parameters.
      • Changes in feed characteristics: temperature, flow rate and composition.
      • Overhead pressure control, different control schemes, pressure modification and consequences.
      • Each case is studied using the following pedagogical approach:
      • Make a change to the column via controllers set point.
      • Analyze how column performance is affected in response to the change.
      • Compare the new steady state to the base case influence on cut point and fractionation capability.
      • Identify the consequences of the changes on associated equipment.

      • Exercises are conducted in small groups of 2 to 3 participants, each group operating its own virtual column. Each exercise includes: definition of the target exercise objective; adequate time to run the virtual columns; open analysis of the results, shared with all participants; and practical conclusions related to the operation of the columns.
      • Attendees are invited to bring descriptions of their specific column diagrams. Conclusions drawn from the exercises on the simulator can be transposed to other actual schemes.

Learning Objectives

  • Upon completion of the course, the participants will be able to:
  • grasp the meaning of the operating conditions of a continuous distillation column with two compounds in the feed,
  • learn how to operate a binary column with a simple control scheme,
  • achieve proper settings to keep products on spec.

Ways & Means

  • Use of a virtual column modeled on RSI IndissPlus dynamic simulator.
  • Each handling includes the definition of setting objectives, implementation with observation of the response of the system, shared analysis of the results and practical conclusions regarding the operation.