March 2002

Special Report: Petrochemical Developments

Optimize distillation operations with ejectors

This heat-pump system can reduce energy consumption for various product separations

Meili, A., Consultant; Meszaros, I., Sulzer Chemtech

Various heat-pump systems are used on distillation applications.1-3 Distillation is an energy-intensive process regardless of the products being separated. Any energy-reduction effect will definitely decrease unit costs for the distilled products. Steam ejectors have been used in limited distillation applications. They are the simplest and most inexpensive heat-pump system for distillation columns.3 In earlier designs, vapors from the column are mixed with motive steam in the ejector; thus, these applications were limited. New ejectors can be designed to use products from the distillation column as the motive vapor, thus overcoming past disadvantages. Further improvements can

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