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Revamp of Fatty Acid Column

Customer:                                             Producer of Glycerin & Fatty Acid.
Location:                                               Western India.
Tower Name:                                       Pre-Cut Distillation Column.
Tower Diameter:                                 800 mm.
Mass Transfer Equipment:Structured Packing (ME-II 250 Y) and tower                                                                  Internals.


History:
Customer is one of the top three largest producer of glycerin and other integrated components of Fatty acids in India.

Process Overview:
Fatty acid distillation plant has been designed & installed to achieve desired product purity & quality at a minimum cost and also to take care of variations in input feed composition.

Customer Requirements:
1.  Enhance capacity to handle feed with variable feed stocks.
2.  Resolve the product purity problem.
3.  Reduce energy consumption. .

Problem Analysis:
After detailed study of entire Fatty acid distillation plant & thorough hydraulic rating of existing tower internals, KEVIN came to the conclusion that there were several problems as noted below those were restricting the installed capacity.

1.  Polymerization or chocking of random packing.
2.  Excessive pressure drop in packing and Internals.
3.  Poor feed distribution because of pipe arm distributor.
4.  Wrong elevation of Internals.

Solutions provided:
KEVIN recommended changing random packing to structured packing thus allowing better contact of liquid and vapor and ensuring low pressure drop. Tower internals were redesigned to suit the modified packing. Liquid distribution system was re-designed by modifying existing Pipe Arm distributor and including a new liquid distributor for ensuring efficient liquid distribution on the packed bed. Enough space was provided for good disengagement of vapor from liquid.

Results achieved:
Column is now working satisfactorily with increased capacity (approx. 30 - 40% higher) and reduced utility consumption (approx. 20% lower).

At the top of the columns, the client achieved removal of C6-C10 fatty acid impurities with the slippage of C12 fatty acid reduced to the extent of =< 1%. At the bottom of the columns, the client achieved desired product purity and slippage of C10 fatty acid impurities to the extent of >=1%
 
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