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.
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.