Advanced Distillation Operation, Control, Design and Troubleshooting

ICTD International Centre for Training and Development

ICTD International Centre for Training and Development


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Who should attend

This course is intended for those who are making day to day decisions regarding operation, design, maintenance, and economics of process industry plants such as Line Operations personnel, Operation Supervisors, Line Maintenance personnel, Maintenance Supervisors, Senior Plant Supervisors, Operations Engineers, Process Support Engineers, Design Engineers and Cost Engineers as well as Technical Engineers, Operating Engineers, Process Support Personnel, Chemist, and Managers.

About the course

The success of every company depends of each employee's understanding of the business's key components. Employee training and development will unlock the companies' profitability and reliability. When people, processes and technology work together as a team developing practical solutions, companies can maximize profitability and assets in a sustainable manner.   Distillation is the most common separation technique and is energy intensive. Distillation can consume more than 50% of a process plant’s operating energy cost. A way to improve an existing plant’s operating cost or to reduce a new distillation system’s operating cost is to improve the efficiency and operations by correct equipment selection, process optimization and control.   It is strategically important that your operations team understands the fundamentals of process unit operations concepts. This is the difference between being in the best quartile of operational ability and being in the last quartile. There is vast difference in the operational ability of operating companies and most benchmarking studies have confirmed this gap in operational abilities.   Whether you have a team of new or seasoned employees, an introduction or review of these concepts is very beneficial in closing the gap if you are not in the best quartile, or maintaining a leadership position. Most studies show that a continuous reinforcement of best practices in operational principles is the most effective way to obtain the desired results. Training and learning should be an on-going continuous life-long goal.  

Course Objectives

  This course will guide the participants to develop key concepts and techniques to design, operate and troubleshoot a distillation system. These key concepts can be utilized to make design and operating decisions. Training and development is an investment in future success - give yourself and your employees the keys to success.   Product recoveries, purities and energy utilization can be improved in most distillation systems. This cannot be achieved without first and understanding of distillation principles and design. These principles need to be understood in advance of designing, operating and troubleshooting a distillation column for the operator, designer, or problem solving to be effective.   Upon successful completion of this course, the delegates will learn:

  • The operation, control and troubleshooting of a distillation columns and it’s associated equipment
  • An overview of distillation, practical solutions as well as theory
  • An understating of essential distillation concepts
  • Valuable practical insights for trouble free design and field proven techniques for commissioning, start up and shutdown of distillation operation
  • The fundamental knowledge of distillation control
  • To tailor your approach to specific design, analysis and troubleshooting problems.  

    Course Outline


    Day 1

      General Introduction

  • General Column Design

  • The components of a distillation system, more than just a tower – it is a system of different components

  • History of distillation

  • Different types of distillation columns

  • Differences among batch, flash, and multistage distillation process

  • Relative advantages of tray and packed columns

  • Steps in the process design  

    Day 2

      Thermodynamics and Equilibrium

  • Vapor Liquid Equilibrium

  • Select the correct vapor-liquid equilibrium equation for your system

  • Review vapor pressure and equilibrium diagrams

  • Interpret mole fraction equilibrium curves, commonly called y-x diagrams

  • Azeotropes and the challenges they create for distillation

  • Stages & Transfer Units Efficiencies

  • Calculate the number of equilibrium stages using short cut methods

  • Calculate minimum reflux and stages using graphical & analytical methods

  • Determine number of theoretical stages needed in a distillation column 

  • Stage Efficiency

  • Methods for determining efficiency

  • Calculate an overall column efficiency for tray columns

  • Calculate point and tray efficiencies, and their difference

  • Calculate the number and height of transfer units for packing

  • Effects on distillation column by changing amount of reflux and reflux temperature

  • How flooding and foaming affects efficiencies and capacities    

    Day 3

      Column Design

  • Tray Column Design

  • The major design differences between tray types

  • The operational limits for trays – operating window

  • Size a distillation column for a given vapor and liquid rate 

  • Packed Column Design

  • The different types of packing and their characteristics

  • The best type of packing for a given system

  • Size a packed column diameter for a given vapor and liquid rate

  • Designing columns for fouling service

  • Designing columns for vacuum service

  • Designing Columns for improved operation and maintenance    

    Day 4

      Process Control

  • Distillation Column Control

  • Functions of Process Control

  • Characteristics of a Continuous Process

  • Select appropriate composition and column pressure control schemes

  • Process settings during column operation

  • Typical controlled and manipulated process variables

  • Level • Pressure • Composition • Temperature • Flow 

  • Controller Performance Criteria

  • Final Control Elements

  • Control Algorithms

  • Open and closed loop tuning strategies 

  • Feed Forward Control of an Ideal Process

  • Feedback and Feed forward Control Loops    

    Day 5


  • Introduction

  • Evaluate operation of a packed column

  • Evaluate operation of a tray column

  • Use tools to diagnosis problems 

  • Installation

  • Common column installation mistakes

  • List tasks to insure a proper installation 

  • Commissioning

  • Common start-up problems and understand how to correct them 

  • Utilizing Process Engineering Software for troubleshooting    

    Course Methodology

      A variety of methodologies will be used during the course that includes:

  • (30%) Based on Case Studies

  • (30%) Techniques 

  • (30%) Role Play

  • (10%) Concepts

  • Pre-test and Post-test

  • Variety of Learning Methods

  • Lectures

  • Case Studies and Self Questionaires

  • Group Work

  • Discussion

  • Presentation

Videos and materials

Advanced Distillation Operation, Control, Design and Troubleshooting at ICTD International Centre for Training and Development

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Coursalytics is an independent platform to find, compare, and book executive courses. Coursalytics is not endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with any business school or university.

Full disclaimer.

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