The Future Developments and Applications

Future developments would seem to be most closely linked to the areas already outlined in this chapter rather than sudden and unexpected applications. Distillation is a mature separation technology and developments are likely to be in incremental advances in our knowledge and understanding of the process itself, and in the underlying principles that determine its ultimate effectiveness for separating components.

The most likely areas for significant advances and developments are:

1. Further combinations of mass transfer effects within distillation equipment (tray or packed columns), developing the current trends of reaction with distillation (reactive and/or catalytic distillation), and hybrid systems of membranes (or other techniques) with distillation.

2. Improvements in separation effectiveness (and costs) including attempts to reduce the size of the equipment, increased efficiencies, and reductions in energy requirements.

3. More reliable prediction and modelling techniques directed towards VLE predictions, efficiency models and predictions, and improvements in the CAD

modelling packages in order to identify practical limitations of the simulations at an early stage. 4. Development of separation systems incorporating distillation in order to address specific environmental problems and applications.

Significant applications are expected in the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) packages for prediction of effects occurring within distillation equipment. This is a different area of research from the use of the flowsheeting packages and the calculation of equilibrium stages. The CFD approach (generally using commercial packages such as PHOENIX™ and FLUENT™) has been used to predict single-phase flow patterns (of a vapour phase) from numerical solutions of the Navier-Stokes equation, turbulence equations, and the continuity equation. If the equations of momentum and mass transfer are inserted into the CFD methodology then it may be possible to predict the flow patterns and their effects upon tray performance. However, the major challenge is the consideration and modelling of the three-dimensional froth height and its shape.

Reviews of the state-of-the-art in distillation and the need for and possible directions of future research have been discussed by Fair (1988), Kunesh et al. (1995) and Porter (1995). Assessments of advances and developments in distillation equipment regularly appear in the journal literature, e.g. Chemical Engineering (NY), December 1992; Hydrocarbon Processing, February 1989; The Chemical Engineer (IChemE), September 1987. Fouling and plugging in equipment and a better understanding of the internal flow mechanisms and regimes are areas receiving and requiring further attention, as discussed earlier. Most new ideas tend eventually to become either an academic curiosity, or niche applications, and approximately every 10 years a new technique gains attention and prominence, e.g. reactive distillation, membrane-distillation.

B. Roffel, University of Twente, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Enschede, The Netherlands

Copyright © 2000 Academic Press

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Solar Panel Basics

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