December 2020

Process Optimization

Dividing wall columns for fatty acids fractionation

The use of dividing wall columns (DWCs) has been a hot topic over the past decades, as DWCs can potentially bring huge savings in operational costs and capital investment.

The use of dividing wall columns (DWCs) has been a hot topic over the past decades, as DWCs can potentially bring huge savings in operational costs and capital investment. To process fatty acids after splitting, the conventional route requires at least four columns in series to separate crude fatty acid mixtures into the desired products. Combining some of these columns into a DWC is, therefore, attractive to the industry. This article explores various DWC options for a typical palm kernel fatty acid feed by means of process simulation software, as well as internal tools. In addition to energy savings, a few aspects related to capital investment and utilities are discussed for each option.

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