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How to Reduce Energy Consumption in Distillation

How to reduce energy consumption in distillation

Distillation is one of the highest energy users within industrial plants, yet one of the more challenging areas to optimize efficiency. However, many practical energy improvement strategies exist which can significantly lower energy use during distillation processes.

Reducing energy use during distillation can save operating costs, lower emissions and eventually lessen our country’s dependence on foreign oil supplies – creating an effective solution that benefits plant owners, producers and the economy overall.

Pete and his team at SmartProcess Distillation work with process manufacturers to help optimize the performance of their distillation processes using advanced control and Emerson’s DeltaV system. Their efforts have yielded some astounding results – such as 40-80% variability reduction, 5-10% throughput increase and energy cost savings combined with improved product quality and safety metrics.

1. Operating under an inappropriate pressure — Increased column pressure can increase separation ability by reducing tray temperatures, but requires more energy to run as it increases reboiler workload. Therefore, for optimal energy savings it may be more cost-effective to run columns at lower end of pressure range; just enough pressure will still allow cooling overhead products and hydraulically moving them – this approach should save on costs!

2. Overusing Reflux — While increasing the Reflux rate may appear to create better separation, this actually requires increased traffic in the tower and thus more energy consumption. An in-depth analysis of product specifications and feed composition can often identify ways of running at lower Reflux rates to increase energy efficiency and save costs.