Distillation Columns

Distillation Columns are one of the most often used types of separation equipment in industries such as the Petrochemical, Chemical Plant and Natural Gas Processing.

Distillation works by the application and removal of heat to exploit differences in relative volatility. The heat causes components with lower boiling points and higher volatility to be vaporized, leaving less volatile components as liquids. Mixtures with high relative volatilities are easier to separate. This makes separations of close-boiling and azeotropic feeds difficult, so special distillation techniques have to be used to separate these mixtures.

Distillation can be used to separate binary or multi-component mixtures. Many variables, such as column pressure, temperature, size, and diameter are determined by the properties of the feed and the desired products. Some specialized columns perform other functions, such as reactive distillation columns, which combine reaction and separation of products into a single unit.

We manufacture small and large distillation columns for a wide range of applications.

There are many types of distillation columns, each designed to perform specific types of separations, and each design differs in terms of complexity.

One way of classifying distillation columns type is to look at how they are operated.

Thus, we have:

  • Batch Columns
    In batch operation, the feed to the column is introduced batch-wise.
    That is, the column is charged with a “batch” and then the distillation process is carried out. When the desired task is achieved, a next batch of feed is introduced.
  • Continuous Columns
    In contrast, continuous columns process a continuous feed stream. No interruptings occur unless there is a problem with the column or surrounding process units. They are capable of handling high throughputs and are the most common of the two types.

    These types of columns can be further classified according to :

    • Binary column: feed contains only two components.
    • Multi-component column: feed contains more than two components.
    • Multi-product column: column has more than two product streams.
    • Extractive distillation: where the extra feed appears in the bottom product stream.
    • Azeotropic distillation: where the extra feed appears at the top product stream.
    • Tray column: where trays of various designs are used to hold up the liquid to provide better contact between vapour and liquid, hence better separation.
    • Packed column: where instead of trays, “packings” are used to enhance contact between vapour and liquid.

What are they used for
Distillation columns separate the various different compounds present within a single mixture. This separation takes advantage of the differences in the different compounds’ boiling temperatures when heat is provided to these columns, the mixtures inside them are brought to a boil.

Each component of each mixture will begin boiling at different times, thus reaching the head of the column at different times, where it will be directed to dedicated tanks that are able to enter into action subsequently.

Industrial chemical plants are in dire need of equipment like this and thus being the reason that SM&FS has specialised in the construction of distillation columns where all the processes necessary for any type of chemical and industrial processing can take place.

Our team are more than capable and sufficiently experienced to design and manufacture any Distillation Column to meet with client requirements.

There are many types of distillation columns, each designed to perform specific types of separations, and each design differs in terms of complexity.