April 2012

Special Report: Petrochemical Developments

Consider new economics for purification on a small scale

For smaller methanol units, new designs balance energy cost against capital cost for long-term profitability

Patwardhan, K., Satishbabu, G., Rajyalakshmi, S., Balaramkrishna, P., R&D Center, Hydrocarbon IC, Larsen and Toubro

Crude methanol (MeOH) distillation is an energy intensive separation process and it contributes significantly to the total production cost. It is very important to choose the right distillation configuration for MeOH purification. In the following study, a two-column configuration is compared with a three-column configuration with forward- and backward-heat integration schemes. Approximately 38% reduction in low-pressure (LP) steam consumption is observed in a three-column configuration case as compared to the base case for a small capacity plant (about 230,000 metric tpy). Further energy reductions for a three-column configuration is possible with a backward-heat integration scheme. KE

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