443365 Technical Reconstruction of Double Effect Distillation for Methanol Process

Monday, April 11, 2016
Exhibit Hall E (George R. Brown )
Jinsheng Sun, Chemical Engineering Research Center, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University,P.R. China, Tianjin, China and Chengtian Cui, School of Chemical Engineering & Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China

Abstract: Methanol is one of important basis raw materials of chemical industry and also an excellent environment-friendly fuel, which make it as a significant commodity in the global market. Distillation is an essential unit operation for purified production of methanol. Product quality, production cost, environmental impact and energy consumption are largely related to distillation process.

Our research effort, under this circumstance, has been devoted since 2002 to energetically optimize 4-column methanol distillation system that is widely adopted in methanol units from coal, with reduced cycling water requirement. This patented process technology saw its industrial application in Chinese largest single unit of 1800Kt/a of Baofeng Group located at North China, with the lowest steam consumption of 0.9/1 t(steam)/t(methanol) compared with normally 25% higher for both simulative case study and on-site operation. Methanol product is in accordance with O-M-232G and the recycling water is reduced significantly from 67 t(CW)/t(methanol) to 52 t(CW)/t(methanol).

The flow diagram of this advanced double effect distillation process is showed in Fig.1. Its advantages arise for limitations found in current units: (1) heat exchange network failed to fully recover energy causing large CW flow to remove extra heat; (2) for pressured column, bubble point reflux need larger reflux ratio than the sub-cooled; (3) the heat of distillate from pressured column was normally ignored;  (4) the low concentration of methanol of feed inlet to recovery column leads to higher reflux radio, responsible for unsatisfied unit energy efficiency.

Fig.1 The double effect distillation process.

(Column1.Light ends column; Column 2.Pressured column;

Column 3.Atmospheric column; Column4.Recovery column)

As a solution, a new flow diagram is built up and showed in Fig.2. (1) HEN totally reorganized (not completely show); (2) sub-cooled reflux to pressured column caused 10% reduction to the reflux ratio, economizing steam consumption; (3) top product of pressured column give heat to crude methanol before feeding light ends column; (4) change product and by-product position of recovery column to give efficient unit energy consumption.

Fig.2 The reconstruction of distillation process.

(Column1.Light ends column; Column 2.Pressured column;

Column 3.Atmospheric column; Column4.Recovery column)

It is estimated that the production of methanol will be over 60 million tons in 2014. If this reconstruction could be applied in the whole methanol industry, 1.3 million tons of standard coal would have been saved. This is equivalent to reduce 5 million tons emission of carbon dioxide, so the environmental impact can be largely decreased. Field operation shows reconstruction perfect substitution worth to spread to the whole methanol industry, energetically efficient and low environmentally impacting.

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