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Distillation Columns

  • Distillation Engineering Teaching Equipment. The UOP3 laboratory-based distillation columns allow safe hands-on practical training for student engineers and plant operators. Available as either a continuous distillation column or a batch-only version for teaching the fundamentals.
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UOP3

HEAT AND MASS TRANSFER UNIT OPERATIONS
UOP3 Distillation Columns - Issue 8

  • New LabVIEW software options
  • Unique* eight point sample & feed sieve plate column sections
  • Sample & feed points at every tray
  • Column can use flammable solvents
  • Column sections available as a retrofit to existing UOP3 units

Considerable advances in the instrumentation and control of distillation columns have been made in recent years, prompted by the advent of computer-linked systems supported by software packages for handling plant operating data.
To reflect these advances, Armfield has developed two state-of-the-art laboratory-based distillation columns that enable safe hands-on practical training for student engineers and plant operators:

  • A continuous or batch operation, computer-compatible column (model reference UOP3CC) which enables a full range of demonstrations from the introductory stages of a process engineering course through to the more complex demonstrations of modern control strategies.
  • A batch-only operated version (model reference UOP3BM) manually controlled, permits comprehensive study of the basic principles of distillation.
  • Both units are designed for safe options using flammable solvents.

The Armfield UOP3CC and UOP3BM have been significantly improved with the addition of sampling ports on each of the trays.

Previously, the thermocouple was removed in order to take a sample. The new sampling ports enable vapour or liquid samples to be drawn from each of the sieve plates by simply inserting a hypodermic needle into the septum seal whilst the distillation is in full, continuous operation. In addition, sample ports can be utilised as additional feed positions on each sieve plate.

The ports are now fitted as standard, and are available as a retrospective install to existing UOP3 units.

Ordering Specification

Batch Distillation Column
  • Self-contained sieve plate distillation column unit including reboiler, condenser and reflux tank, suitable for use with flammable solvents and fully instrumented for batch operation
  • Eight feed and sample points
  • Temperatures throughout the process including those on each and every sieve plate are monitored and displayed on a bench-mounted control console, via a selector switch. The console also houses controls for the power supplied to the reboiler heater and for reflux ratio settings from 0-100%
  • The console front panel connections enable the use of standard laboratory recorders and data loggers and of industry-standard PID and PLC controllers (not supplied)
  • A U-tube manometer is incorporated to measure pressure drop over the distillation column
  • The 50mm diameter sieve plate column may be readily interchanged with a packed column supplied as an alternative
  • A vacuum system enables operation at reduced pressures down to 200mbar
  • The unit is supplied fully assembled including lagging, and a comprehensive instruction manual describes commissioning, maintenance and instructional assignments
Computer-interfaced Distillation Column:
  • Self-contained sieve plate distillation column unit including feed vessels and pump, reboiler, condenser, reflux separator, product collecting tanks, bottoms product cooler/feed preheater, suitable for use with flammable solvents and fully instrumented for both batch and continuous operation
  • Eight feed and sample points
  • Temperatures throughout the process including those on each and every sieve plate are monitored and displayed on a bench mounted control console, via a selector switch. The console also houses controls for the power supplied to the reboiler heater and for reflux ratio settings from 0-100%
  • The console front panel connections enable the use of standard laboratory recorders and data loggers and of industry-standard PID and PLC controllers (not supplied)
  • The console is designed to be connected to a PC (not supplied), and software is provided to enable data logging, real-time trend monitoring and PID control loops to be set up, monitored and configured by the user via a mimic diagram
  • A U-tube manometer is incorporated to measure pressure drop over the distillation column
  • A vacuum system enables operation at reduced pressures down to 200mbar
  • A third feed vessel is supplied, so with the reflux phase separator, azeotropic distillation may be demonstrated
  • The 50mm diameter sieve plate column may be readily interchanged with a packed column supplied as an alternative
  • The unit is supplied fully assembled including lagging, and a comprehensive instruction manual describes commissioning, maintenance and instructional assignments

Description

The unit is a self-contained and fully instrumented distillation facility, suitable for practical laboratory work relevant to the teaching of unit operations.

The equipment employs galvanically isolated intrinsically safe circuits and flameproof devices as appropriate, to enable safe distillation of standard test mixtures such as methylcyclohexane-toluene, methyl alcohol-water etc.
The equipment consists of two interconnected units: a floor standing process unit and a bench-mounted control console.

The following features are included:

UOP3BM Process Unit
  • A 50mm diameter plate distillation column containing eight sieve plates and downcomers. Every plate includes a temperature sensor positioned to accurately measure the temperature of the liquid on each plate. The sheaths of each plate temperature sensor are not more than 1.5mm diameter, to ensure rapid dynamic response
  • A 50mm packed column supplied as a separate item, but readily interchangeable with the plate column by the user, for comparative studies of the two types of distillation column
  • Electrically heated reboiler of enough capacity for up to two hours of batch operation. The reboiler heater is protected against overheating by a low-level alarm
  • An overhead condenser with cooling water flow measurement and adjustment
  • A condensate collecting vessel, equipped with double overflow weirs and exit pipes to enable separation of immiscible liquids
  • A reflux return valve, solenoid operated, to provide for 0-100% reflux, adjustable by electrical signal
  • Differential manometer connected to top and bottom of the column, to monitor column pressure drop
  • A vacuum system with gauge to enable distillation studies at reduced pressures down to 200mbar(abs)
  • Sampling points throughout the system for composition analyses
  • Materials of construction for surfaces in contact with the process fluids are; glass, stainless steel, PTFE or similar solvent-resistant materials
  • Height of the process unit does not exceed 2.5m
  • Lagging is provided, although it is possible to see at least one plate in operation with distillation in progress
  • Maximum operating temperature inside the column operation is at least 130°C
UOP3BM Control Console
  • Monitoring and selectable display of at least 13 system temperatures, including those of the liquid on each tray, the reboiler and across the condenser
  • Monitoring, display and manual adjustment of:
    > The electrical power to the reboiler heater
    > The reflux ratio setting
  • Front panel connections to enable the user to connect 0-5V industry-standard analogue or programmable logic controllers, to provide on-line control of the boil-up rate or reflux ratio from chosen column temperature measurements. The connection points also permit the use of standard laboratory chart recorders and data loggers (up to two temperature measurements simultaneously)
  • Mains power connection (single-phase 3kW max supply) protected by residual current device. No-volt protection safety circuits to prevent unintentional start-up
  • Individual circuits protected against excess current with resettable circuit breakers

Computer-Interfaced Distillation Column UOP3CC

This unit incorporates all the features of the manually operated batch column described above (UOP3BM) but includes the following additional items:

UOP3CC Process Unit
  • Two 5l feed vessels, with rapid changeover to permit step changes in feed composition to be made
  • Peristaltic feed pump, range 0-0.25 l/min adjustable by voltage input variation to the pump motor controller
  • Electrically heated reboiler of sufficient capacity for 1-2 hours of batch operation, but equipped with an internal overflow when continuous operation is required
  • A bottoms product heat exchanger that may either be water cooled or used as a (variable) feed preheater
  • Alternative column feed points and the ability to vary the inlet feed temperature to the column
  • Dosing feed vessel, connected to the column for the continuous addition of a third liquid component, which together with the condensate phase separator vessel enables the study of azeotropic distillation
  • Temperature sensors in each flow stream entering and leaving the condenser and of the feed, product system and reboiler temperatures
UOP3CC Control Console
  • Monitoring and selectable display of at least 14 system temperatures, including those of the liquid on each tray, the reboiler, across the condenser, and of the feed and product streams
  • Monitoring, display and manual adjustment of:
    > The electrical power to the reboiler heater
    > The reflux ratio setting
    > The feed rate setting
  • Ribbon cable connector at rear of the console allows the use of standard laboratory chart recorders and data loggers (all measurements simultaneously)
  • USB connector at the rear of the unit enables connection to a user-supplied PC, via the integral USB interface
  • Remote/manual switch is provided on the front panel of the console to enable simple changeover from PC to front panel control to be made by the operator
  • Power and motor control circuits shut down automatically with loss of computer control signals (when in computer control mode)
UOP3CC Software

Armsoft software included as standard

  • Bespoke armSOFT software, enables real-time data acquisition via USB port, mimic diagram of process tabular and graphical display of results, and export to external spreadsheet
  • Fully configurable, multiple-loop control strategies

Control Options Include:

  • Manual control of feed rate, reboiler power and reflux ratio
  • Alarm setting
  • Adjustable PID control of the power to the reboiler heater from a temperature sensor
  • Alternative algorithms for controlling the reflux ratio, in particular by programmed variation with time and from a column temperature
  • Two-point temperature control of reboiler power and reflux ratio simultaneously
  • Full help facilities including presentation screen to provide a brief overview of the equipment, and detailed texts giving all the information required to run the experiments

LabVIEW software

As an alternative to the armSOFT software, the software to control the UOP3CC can be supplied in the LabVIEW™ format. Two versions are available:

  • UOP3CC-LV-RT is a run-time version of the software. It does not require LabVIEW™ to be installed on the computer and requires no further license to run the software
  • UOP3CC-LV-SC is aimed at experienced LabVIEW™ developers. It includes all the source files so that users can amend the software and optimise it to their own requirements. To use UOP3CC-LV-SC, the National Instruments LabVIEW™ development program must be installed on the computer (ie NI Developer Suite 2012), complete with all appropriate licenses (Armfield do not supply the National Instruments software)

*Armfield UOP3CC and UOP3BM are the only units on the market with this sampling capability, and the column is unique in that it can use flammable solvents. In addition, sample ports can be utilised as additional feed positions on each sieve plate. Correct at time of product release.

Experimental Capabilities

UOP3BM Batch Distillation Column - under manual control:
  • Pressure drop across the column as a function of boil-up rate (Fig. 1)
  • Column efficiency as a function of boil-up rate, at total reflux (Fig. 2)
  • Plate-to-plate temperature profiles along the column
  • McCabe-Thiele construction of operating line (Fig. 3)
  • Distillation at constant reflux ratio: variation of top product composition with time (Fig. 4)
  • Mass balance across the system
  • Manual control of reflux ratio to achieve a top product of specified composition
  • Comparison of packed column with sieve plate column performance

Note: These capabilities can also be performed with UOP3CC. Laboratory Work Assignment Capabilities

UOP3CC Computer-Interfaced Distillation Column - continuous operation, manual or computer operation:
  • Includes all demonstrations listed for UOP3BM under ‘Batch Distillation Column’
  • Continuous, steady-state distillation including temperature profiles and McCabe-Thiele analysis
  • Distillation under reduced pressure conditions (Fig. 5)
  • Comparison of packed and plate column continuous operation (Table 1)
  • Effect of feed preheat (Fig. 6)
  • Effect of feed position (Table 2)
  • Demonstration of azeotropic distillation (Fig. 7)

Computer control assignments:

  • The on-line use of mimic diagrams (Fig. 8)
  • Setting up data logging and subsequent analyses of captured data, including use of spreadsheets (Fig. 9)
  • Batch distillation at constant reflux ratio (Fig. 10) or varying with time
  • Batch distillation with reflux ratio control from a column temperature (Fig. 11)
  • Continuous distillation with three-term control of reboiler heater from a column temperature
  • Continuous distillation with top temperature controlling reflux ratio
  • Continuous distillation with temperature control of reboiler heater and reflux ratio (two-loop control system)
  • Optimum controller settings for changes in feed rate, composition or temperature
  • Alternative, user-originated control algorithms
  • Process dynamics eg operation and control of continuous distillation operation

Proprietary controller demonstrations:

  • PLC control of reboiler heater and/or reflux ratio and alarm functioning (requires Armfield PCT19BR unit incorporating an industry-standard PLC) (Figs. 13 & 14)
  • Demonstration of PC supervision of PLC and PID controllers – an introduction to distributed control systems
  • PID analogue control of reboiler heater from column temperature (requires Armfield PCT20H unit incorporating an industry-standard controller

Performance Results

Distillation column control using an Armfield PCT19BR Industrial PLC Unit

Comparison of batch distillation for different reflux ratio control strategies

Effect of operating parameters on column temperature profile
(Feed rate of 60ml/min, 60% trichlorethylene/40% methylene chloride, boiler power 0.75kW, reflux ratio 2:1)

Table 1:
Comparison of temperatures across packed and plate columns
Measurements in Temp. of top plate Temp. of boiler
Packed column: 48.4°C 82.5°C
Plate column: 48.0°C 85.0°C

Conditions:

Feed: 60 ml/min of 60:40 trichlorethylene/methylene chloride
Reboiler power: 0.75kW
Reflux ratio: 2:1
Ambient feed temp: 17°C – atmospheric pressure
Table 2:
Results for an alternative feed position
Feed to top of column
Time Compositions, m.f. MCH
Power
Reflux
Temperatures, °C
  Feed Overheads Bottoms Input, kW Ratio Reboiler O/H Line Top Plate
13.40
0.293
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
15.00
-
-
-
0.79
2:1
108.8
103.4
103.5
15.15
-
-
-
0.77
2:1
108.4
103.0
102.7
15.20
-
0.472
0.088
-
-
-
-
-
15.30
-
-
-
0.79
2:1
107.1
102.9
103.6
15.35
-
0.464
0.097
-
-
-
-
-
15.50
-
0.481
0.107
0.75
2:1
107.4
103.0
103.6

Essential Accessories

Analytical equipment, suitable for composition analyses of any particular liquid mixture selected by the user (eg refractometer).

For UOP3CC only:

Windows PC with USB port. (not supplied by Armfield)

Note: It is not possible to upgrade a UOP3BM unit to a UOP3CC unit, owing to the complexity of the flameproof barriers within the UOP3CC control console.

Optional Accessories

PCT19BR Industrial PLC Unit

PLC unit incorporating Allen Bradley SLC500 complete with proprietary ladder logic set-up program (requiring user-supplied PC). This program is initially configured by Armfield for two analogue input/output control loops suited to the UOP3 Distillation Column unit (either BM or CC versions), but may be reconfigured by users via their PC.

PCT20H Industrial PID Controller

PID controller, incorporating a Honeywell UDC3300 series unit, with voltage/mA input and output for single loop control and alarm configurations. Suitable for both UOP3BM and CC versions. A software package is supplied on disk to demonstrate the basic principles of SCADA whereby a user-supplied PC can address the PID controller on-line.

Requirements

Installation Requirements

Solvent resistant level floor.
Unit must be placed/located on a solvent-resistant floor in an area with Zone 2 Hazardous area classification or in a well ventilated environment with two metres of clear space on either side of the unit.

Electrical Supply:
UOP3BM-A: 220-240V 1ph 50Hz 13A
UOP3BM-B: 120V 1ph 60Hz 25A
UOP3BM-G: 220V 1ph 60Hz 13A
UOP3CC-A: 220-240V 1ph 50Hz 13A
UOP3CC-B: 120V 1ph 60Hz 25A
UOP3CC-G: 220V 1ph 60Hz 13A
Water

Cold water supply: 15 l/min at 2.0bar pressure (min.)

Venting

Exhaust line to fume cupboard or to safe discharge area outside of laboratory.

NB: The distillation unit is floor mounted and is supplied already connected to the benchmounting control console by sufficient armoured cable to allow the 2m clear space to be maintained around the column.

Shipping Specification

  UOP3BM: UOP3CC:
Volume: 3.4m3 3.5m3
Gross weight: 425kg 450kg

Overall Dimensions

 

 UOP3BM:UOP3CC:
Process unit:Control console:Process unit:Control console:
Height: 2.25m 0.30m 2.25m 0.42m
Width: 0.85m 0.52m 0.85m 0.52m
Depth: 0.80m 0.40m 0.80m 0.40m