May 012012
 
 May 1, 2012  Posted by at 11:00 am Chemical Engineering, Education, Projects Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Distillation of a Binary Mixture in a Distillation Column of Arbitrary Design, Part 5

*Note: This article is part of a series on a specific research project: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
*Note: This article assumes you have rudimentary knowledge of how a simple distillation column operates. Though much of the basics of the simple model for a distillation column will be covered below, it should not be considered as a stand alone reference.

5.0 Conclusions

Since there were several motivations for this derivation, the conclusions that may be drawn from it overall will be broken down into two relevant categories for discussion and summary.
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Feb 292012
 
 February 29, 2012  Posted by at 4:00 pm Chemical Engineering, Education, Projects Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Distillation of a Binary Mixture in a Distillation Column of Arbitrary Design, Part 4

*Note: This article is part of a series on a specific research project: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
*Note: This article assumes you have rudimentary knowledge of how a simple distillation column operates. Though much of the basics of the simple model for a distillation column will be covered below, it should not be considered as a stand alone reference.

4.0 Generalization to Columns of Arbitrary Design

4.1.0 Motivation for Generalizing to an Arbitrary Design

The motivation to generalize to a system with an arbitrary topology is simply to take the next logical step and expand on what has already been accomplished. The case for two feed/side streams was itself an extension of the simple case of a single feed stream.

4.2.0 Physical Description for a Generalized Column Model

To generalize to an arbitrary topology, some choices as far as the idealized general topology have to be made. This leads to the least complex yet most regularly structured limit of including a single feed stream and a single side stream placed optimally at each theoretical plate. So, the column is now comprised of \displaystyle n plates, each of which is associated with a feed stream (\displaystyle F_i , \displaystyle x_{F_i} , and \displaystyle q_{F_i} ), a side draw stream (\displaystyle S_i , \displaystyle x_{S_i} , and \displaystyle q_{S_i} ), a liquid overflow entering from above (\displaystyle L_{i-1} and \displaystyle x_{i-1} ) and underflow leaving below (\displaystyle L_i and \displaystyle x_i ), a vapor overflow leaving above (\displaystyle V_i and \displaystyle y_i ) and underflow entering from below (\displaystyle V_{i+1} and \displaystyle y_{i+1} ), and the distillate and waste streams with their associated values as described in part 1.

4.3.0 Method of Model Generalization

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Feb 102012
 
 February 10, 2012  Posted by at 7:00 pm Chemical Engineering, Education, Projects Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Distillation of a Binary Mixture in a Distillation Column of Arbitrary Design, Part 3

*Note: This article is part of a series on a specific research project: Part 1, Part 2
*Note: This article assumes you have rudimentary knowledge of how a simple distillation column operates. Though much of the basics of the simple model for a distillation column will be covered below, it should not be considered as a stand alone reference.

3.0 Proof of the Equivalence of Methods 1 and 2

3.1.0 Geometric Basis for Equivalence

3.1.1 The Rationale of the Method for Comparison

Given that method 1 and method 2 involve plotting the exact same enriching and stripping operation lines, the enriching and stripping operation lines are by definition not parallel for any real physical system that does not involve an azeotrope**, and the combined streams q-line from method 2 also passes through the intersection of said enriching and stripping operation lines, there exists at the point of intersection of these three lines a set of three different means of determining the coordinates of the point based on the intersection of a pair of lines.  Two of these lines, the enriching and stripping operation lines, are present in both methods and are defined by Eq. 1-10 and Eq. 1-45 in method 1.  The third line, the combined streams q-line, is defined by Eq. 2-5 in method 2.  As a matter of geometric consistency, evaluation of the ratio of x-ordinates or y-ordinates for a pair of such intersections should result in unity.  In other words, when taking the ratio of a single ordinate between a pair of definitions for the intersection of the three lines, all variables should cancel exactly.

3.1.2 The Points to be Examined

The pair of definitions for the intersection of the three lines will be taken as the intersection of the enriching and stripping operation lines and the intersection of the enriching operation line and the combined streams q-line.  The latter selection was made due to the relative simplicity of the definition of the enriching operation line over that of the stripping operation line.

3.2.0 Proof of Equivalence

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Feb 092012
 

*Note: This article is part of a series on a specific research project: Part 1
*Note: This article assumes you have rudimentary knowledge of how a simple distillation column operates. Though much of the basics of the simple model for a distillation column will be covered below, it should not be considered as a stand alone reference.

2.0 Solution Method 2: The Combined Streams Modification of the McCabe-Thiele Method

2.1.0 Defining the Combined Feed/Side Stream

The new stream will be defined as a combined side stream with flow rate \displaystyle M , composition \displaystyle x_M , and fractional quality \displaystyle q_M .

2.1.1 The New Flow Rate

The flow rate for the combined side stream is defined as the following sum

Eq. 2-1) \displaystyle\boxed{M=F+G}

2.1.2 The New Composition

The composition for the combined side stream is defined as the following weighted average

Eq. 2-2) \displaystyle\boxed{x_M=\frac{Fx_F}{M}+\frac{Gx_G}{M}}

This is a classic application of the lever rule.

2.1.3 The New Fractional Quality

The fractional quality of the combined side stream is defined as the following weighted average

Eq. 2-3) \displaystyle\boxed{q_M=\frac{Fq_F}{M}+\frac{Gq_G}{M}}

2.2.0 Defining Relevant Operation Lines and q-Lines

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Jan 312012
 

*Note: This article assumes you have rudimentary knowledge of how a simple distillation column operates.  Though much of the basics of the simple model for a distillation column will be covered below, it should not be considered as a stand alone reference.

Introduction

While taking my separations and mass transfer operations course at UF, I took a particularly interesting exam where I was tasked with predicting the performance of a distillation column with two inputs.  This may be getting ahead of myself, as the problem’s information was written into the proof, but the problem was as follows:

The Test Problem

Given a distillation column separating n-pentane and n-heptane, with a feed rate of 200 kgmol/hr of a 40 mol% n-pentane liquid at bubble point, a 95 mol% distillate stream, a 5 mol% bottoms stream, a 30 mol% side stream with a flow rate out equal to that of the bottoms leaving, a reflux ratio equal to twice that of the minimum, and a 50% average tray efficiency, use the McCabe-Thiele graphical method and the provided vapor-liquid equilibrium data to determine a) the flow rate and composition of all streams, b) the minimum reflux ratio, c) the number of theoretical plates required, and d) the optimum placement of the feed stream and side stream.

So, the information given so far is

  • F=200 kgmol/hr
  • x_F=0.40
  • q_F=1
  • x_D=0.95
  • x_W=0.05
  • G=-W (negative sign due to opposite orientation)
  • x_G=0.30
  • q_G=1
  • R_D=2R_{min}
  • \epsilon_a=0.50

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Jan 162012
 
 Old Work to be Posted Over the Next Few Months  January 16, 2012  Posted by at 1:28 pm Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Education, Projects, Publications, Random Musings, Research Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Old Work to be Posted Over the Next Few Months

Over the next few months I will be posting about many of the independent projects and research projects I did as an undergraduate.  They range from metabolic models to full process designs and cover a diverse selection of chemical engineering principles, several with significant real world applications.  Starting things off will be a walk through of a proof I wrote in response to a test grade I did not agree with and how the results of the proof may be used both to simplify and enhance a graphical method for predicting distillation column behavior.  This proof will be the basis for a paper I will be writing on the subject as well.

Jan 112012
 
 January 11, 2012  Posted by at 8:00 pm Law and Order, Programming, Projects Tagged with: , , , , ,  Comments Off on Quick Project: A Blackout Banner for Protesting Censorship

So, while perusing Techdirt earlier today, I saw an article about WordPress coming out against the Stopping Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  To me, this was just another tech sector company proclaiming, rightfully so, how ripe for abuse the proposed legislation is in its current form.  I noted that WordPress it quite capable of mass distributing a plugin to spread awareness and calls to action in the comments.  Another commenter pointed me to the already successful campaign by americancensorship.org and the small piece of code they provide to blackout a small portion of a website with a banner.  I saw a simple solution: wrap the aforementioned code inside a plugin and submit it myself.  This was a somewhat challenging project as I am not intimately familiar with the details of php, nor had I ever previously delved into the WordPress API.  I was able to cobble together what I feel is a stable plugin that more or less acts like an on/off switch for WordPress websites.  I have submitted my request to place the plugin into the repository, and they will eventually get back to me so I can upload it to the svn.  In the meantime, I thought it was an interesting project and I’ve placed the cleaned up bare-bones source code for the plugin below.

The majority of the effort was actually fixing minor mistakes like blacking out the dashboard where I was editing the plugin and many, many php error message frustrations caused by a single leading “?” prior the rest of the code above.   Beyond those small details it was a matter of figuring out which hook would allow me to place the banner most effectively.  After some fiddling around with different locations, I simply set the dimensions to “100%” and blacked out most of the sandbox I had setup.  So, the plugin works, I got to play with the insides of WordPress, and I was able to complete my project in just a few short hours.

Dec 092011
 
 December 9, 2011  Posted by at 5:06 pm Chemical Engineering, Education, Projects, Publications, Research Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on My Undergraduate Honors Thesis

So, I submitted and defended my undergraduate honors thesis a week ago and it passed with flying colors.  The database of undergraduate honors theses can be found here.  In light of that great news, here is the abstract and links to the document and the presentation I used during my oral defense.

Design of a Packed Distillation Column for a Unit Operations Laboratory

The design for a new packed distillation column for consideration as a new experiment for the University Of Florida Department Of Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory was created to demonstrate the separation of water and isopropanol (i-Pr) and to evaluate a parallel applied multi-correlation approach to creating a high accuracy process model based on correlations with known margins of error.  The final design produced features a core distillation unit, capable of batch, semi-batch, and continuous operation, and a surrounding recycle and waste management system, which is not covered in this paper.  The nominal core system configuration was continuous operation with 20 mol% i-Pr, 10 mol% i-Pr, and 60 mol% i-Pr compositions and 10.4 USGPH, 6.6 USGPH, and 3.9 USGPH flow rates for the feed, bottoms, and distillate material streams, respectively.  This configuration had a 6.65 inch tall HTU, requires 3.42 NTU, and a minimum required height of 1.89 ft.  The final column design used a 6 ft high packing of ¼ in. Raschig Rings and had a 23.1% nominal “average tray efficiency,” which was an expectedly low value due to the presence of an azeotrope at 67 mol% i-Pr.

My Undergraduate Honors Thesis (PDF)

My Undergraduate Honors Thesis Presentation (PPT)