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Distillation Viewer for Multicomponent Separations

By Joshua Huff, Gautham Madenoor Ramapriya, George A. Howlett1, Anirudh Arun Shenvi, Mohit Tawarmalani, Rakesh Agrawal, Haibo Zhang

1. Purdue University

Graphical interface to examine configurations generated by NLP distillation optimization

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Version 4.5 - published on 07 Aug 2014

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Prof. Rakesh Agrawal's separations group has been working for several years on the problem of providing a globally optimal, rapidly obtainable solution to the general problem of distilling a multicomponent mixture into its base components in the best way possible. This is achieved by using the Underwood equations for the vapor flow in each distillation column as a representation of the total column cost. The results are obtained from a nonlinear program incorporating all feasibility considerations to find the optimal way of arranging columns and allocating mass and energy flows in order to achieve the separation. This tool accepts input generated by the NLP to describe its results; the distillation viewer provides a picture of every column arrangement possible for an n-component mixture and allows them to be sorted by vapor duty and/or screened by the presence or absence of certain characteristic splits or columns. The viewer also provides the capability to generate journal-ready images of any distillation configuration.


Department of Energy Industrial Technologies Program (ITP)


Rakesh Agrawal, Synthesis of Distillation Column Configurations for a Multicomponent Separation, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol 35, Issue 4, 1996, Pages 1059-1071, 10.1021/ie950323h ( Rakesh Agrawal, Multicomponent Distillation Columns with Partitions and Multiple Reboilers and Condensers, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., Vol 40, Issue 20, 2001, Pages 4258-4266, 10.1021/ie000315n, ( Vishesh H Shah, Rakesh Agrawal, A matrix method for multicomponent distillation sequences, AIChE J., Volume 56, Issue 7, July 2010, Pages 1759-1777, ISSN 1547-5905, 10.1002/aic.12118. ( Anirudh A. Shenvi, Vishesh H. Shah, Jeremy A. Zeller, Rakesh Agrawal, A synthesis method for multicomponent distillation sequences with fewer columns, AIChE J., published online 9-12-2011, ( Arun Giridhar, Rakesh Agrawal, Synthesis of distillation configurations: I. Characteristics of a good search space, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Volume 34, Issue 1, 11 January 2010, Pages 73-83, ISSN 0098-1354, 10.1016/j.compchemeng.2009.05.003. ( Arun Giridhar, Rakesh Agrawal, Synthesis of distillation configurations. II: A search formulation for basic configurations, Computers & Chemical Engineering, Volume 34, Issue 1, 11 January 2010, Pages 84-95, ISSN 0098-1354, 10.1016/j.compchemeng.2009.05.004. (

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Joshua Huff; Gautham Madenoor Ramapriya; George A. Howlett; Anirudh Arun Shenvi; Mohit Tawarmalani; Rakesh Agrawal; Haibo Zhang (2014), "Distillation Viewer for Multicomponent Separations,"

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