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1140 II / DISTILLATION / Tray Columns: Performance

to the minimum area to the minimum area required considerations suggest that it is best to use the
for vapour}liquid disengagement. The DCBUSF de- smallest column diameter and height that satisfy the
termines the approach of the downcomer froth height process requirements within reasonable safety allow-
to the downcomer depth ("tray spacing#outlet ances. Process requirements include accommodation
weir height). Safety factors in the range of 1.5}2.0 are of the expected liquid and vapour Sow ranges and the
recommended. optimization of tray efRciency.
Pressure Drop
See also: II/Distillation: Packed Columns: Design and
The pressure drop across an operating tray should be
Performance; Theory of Distillation; Tray Columns: Perfor-
speciRed if it affects the number of equilibrium stage mance.
requirements for the separation. This is often the case
for vacuum applications. Stable operation can be
obtained at a pressure drop of 1}3 in (2.5}7.6 cm) of
liquid per tray for vacuum and 2}5 in (5.1}12.7 cm) Further Reading
for pressure operations. Billet R (1979) Distillation Engineering. New York: Chem-
ical Publishing Co.
Fair JR (1963) In: Smith BD (ed.) Design of Equilibrium
Design Calculations Stage Processes. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Fair JR (1987) In: Rousseau RW (ed.) Handbook of
Tray Hydraulics
Separation Process Technology, ch. 5. New York: John
The hydraulic performance of a sieve tray for a given Wiley.
layout may be calculated using the methods presented Fair JR, Steinmeyer DE, Peuney WR and Crocker BB
in Distillation/Tray Columns: Performance. (1997). In: Perry RH and Green D (eds) Perrys Chem-
ical Engineers Handbook, 7th edn, sect. 14. New York:
Tray Ef\ciency McGraw-Hill.
Humphrey JL and Keller GE II (1997) Separation Process
Tray efRciency is a strong function of the physical Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
properties of the vapour and liquid streams. It is also Kister HZ, (1992) Distillation Design. New York
affected, to a lesser extent, by the Sow rates and tray McGraw-Hill.
layout. In the latter case, only hole diameter, hole Lockett MJ (1986) Distillation Tray Fundamentals. Cam-
area and weir height have a small inSuence on the bridge: Cambridge University Press.
tray efRciency. The optimum design, which gives the Lygeros AI and Magoulas KG (1986) Column Sooding
maximum number of equilibrium stages in a column, and entrainment. Hydrocarbon Processing 65:
is often obtained at minimum tray spacing and min- 43}44.
McCabe WL, Smith JC and Harriott P (1993) Unit Opera-
imum number of Sow paths that satisfy the hydraulic
tions of Chemical Engineering, 5th edn. New York:
design criteria. McGraw-Hill.
Ogboja O and Kuye A (1991) A procedure for the design
Conclusions and optimization of sieve trays. Transactions of the
Institution of Chemical Engineers 445.
A well-designed tray should be economical while Rose LM (1985) Distillation Design in Practice. Amster-
meeting all process design requirements. Economic dam: Elsevier.

Tray Columns: Performance

K. Nandakumar and K. T. Chuang, University of Alberta, ber of objectives in mind. They include: (i) achieving
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada high efRciency of contact between the liquid and the
Copyright ^ 2000 Academic Press vapour so that the phases leaving a tray are as close to
equilibrium conditions as possible; (ii) balancing the
tray deck area provided for vapour/liquid contact
with the downcomer area provided for disengage-
Introduction ment of the two phases so that neither limits the
As pointed out in the article entitled distillation tray capacity of the column to process large amounts
columns: design, a sieve tray is designed with a num- of feed; and (iii) avoiding detrimental operating
II / DISTILLATION / Tray Columns: Performance 1141

conditions in the column such as weeping, Uooding or

high vapour entrainment.
Numerous geometrical factors have to be selected
by the designer such as: (i) column diameter; (ii) tray
spacing; (iii) top and bottom downcomer area; (iv)
number of Sow passes; (v) hole diameter and density;
(vi) tray thickness; and (vii) weir design. This is
a highly empirical process which depends on empiri-
cal design equations that describe the tray hydraulics
and rule-of-thumb guidelines that have evolved over
several decades of operating experience. Thus, the
design of sieve tray columns has remained an art,
although commercial process simulation software
packages such as ASPEN, PRO II, HYSIM, etc., are Figure 1 (A) Murphree tray efficiency. (B) Head in the down-
trying to codify these procedures into their design comer.
packages. The conceptual steps in the design proced-
ure together with the rule-of-thumb guidelines have
been presented in the Tray Columns: Design article. Figure 1A illustrates various compositions. yn is the
Since frequent reference will be made to that article, actual composition of the vapour stream leaving tray
we will henceforth refer to it simply as Part I. n, while yHn is the composition that is in equilibrium
In contrast, the performance analysis problem is with the exit liquid stream.
relatively more scientiRc, in the sense that a series These two compositions would be the same, if and
of well-deRned steps leads to the estimation of the only if the condition of ideal equilibrium tray is satis-
Murphree tray efRciency, the column efTciency and Red. Since it is never satisRed in practice, it is impor-
the actual number of trays. The overall column efR- tant to be able to predict the tray efRciency. In fact,
ciency, Eo, is deRned as: the compositions are not even uniform across the tray
deck. Hence the above deRnition is applied at a local
Nequilibrium point on the tray and the point efRciency is integrated
Eo" [1]
Nactual with the variations in Uow conditions to predict a tray
efRciency. The relationship between the inputs and
where Nequilibrium is obtained from stagewise equilib- the sequence of calculations is shown in Figure 2.
rium design calculations. Performance evaluation In Figure 2 the point efTciency is a function of local
boils down to estimating Eo so that the actual number Sow conditions such as local mass transfer coefR-
of trays, Nactual, can be determined. The overall col- cients in the liquid and vapour phases. The dry Mur-
umn efRciency, Eo, is related to the Murphree tray phree tray efRciency incorporates the effects of liquid
efRciency, EMV, through the Lewis relationship (as- and vapour distribution on the point efTciency, while
suming constant slopes of equilibrium and operating the wet Murphree tray efRciency incorporates the
lines), given by: additional effects of entrainment and weeping.

ln [1#EMV(!1)]

where "mG/L is the separation factor, m is the

slope of the equilibrium line, and (G, L) are the
vapour and liquid Sow rates in kmol s\1. Thus the
Murphree tray efRciency, EMV, must be estimated in
order to determine the column efRciency. The urphree
tray efRciency is deRned to provide a measure of
departure from the assumption of ideal equilibrium
tray that is used to determine the number of ideal
stages required to achieve a given separation. It is
deRned as:

yn!yn 1
EMV" \ [2]
yHn !yn 1 Figure 2 Steps in performance evaluation.
1142 II / DISTILLATION / Tray Columns: Performance

The tray efRciency, EMV, clearly depends on: (i) the weir geometry. One such equation that predicts the
geometrical design parameters chosen as outlined in liquid height is given by:
Part I; (ii) the physical properties of the system such as
density, viscosity, surface tension, etc.; and (iii) the hl"0.6H0.5
w p
(FP/b)0.25 25 mm(Hw(100 mm
operating conditions like the vapour/liquid Sow
Having selected the design parameters identiRed in
Here, Hw is the weir height in metres, p is the pitch
Part I, the objective of the performance analysis step
of the holes in the sieve plate in metres,
is to predict: (i) the tray hydraulics (including the
pressure drop, the Sow regime, the froth density, the FP"(ul/ug)((l/g) is the Sow parameter, b is the
entrainment and weeping factors); (ii) the point efR- weir length per unit bubbling area in metres\1.
ciency; (iii) the Murphree tray efRciency; and (iv) the The discharge coefRcient, CD in eqn [4] is a
column efRciency. In the initial stages of designing function of the Sow conditions near a hole. It is in fact
a new tray column, there is feedback between the dependent on the liquid present on the tray. It is
design and performance analysis steps to arrive at correlated by:
a set of optimal design parameters, as outlined in the

Sow chart (Figure 5 of part I). But the performance ghll 2/3
CD"0.7 1!0.14 [6]
analysis steps to be outlined in this part, are also u2g,hg
useful in analysing the performance of an existing
tray column, although the opportunity to pick opti- All of the quantities appearing on the right-hand side
mal design conditions is not present as one is forced have been deRned previously.
to deal with an existing tray.
Pressure Drop Calculation in the Liquid Phase
An excellent summary of the equations used to
study the performance of a sieve tray column can be The liquid is transported down through the down-
found in Zuiderweg (1982), Lockett (1986) and Kis- comer. The capacity of the downcomer should be
ter (1992) (see Further Reading). The detailed steps sufRcient to handle the liquid load without becoming
involved in the performance analysis include: (i) the the rate limiting factor, i.e. without the liquid backing
pressure drop prediction; (ii) froth height and density up the downcomer to a signiRcant extent. Figure 1B
calculations; (iii) point efRciency prediction; and (iv) shows the pressure differential components making
tray efRciency prediction. The inputs required are: (i) up the total head differential on the liquid side as the
tray geometry; (ii) physical properties; and liquid backs up the downcomer to a height of hdc. The
(iii) Sow conditions. extent of liquid back-up can be estimated from:

hdc"ht#hda#hL [7]
Steps in Performance Analysis
Pressure Drop Calculation in Vapour Phase where ht is the pressure difference between points
a and b in the vapour phase that is necessary to keep
The pressure drop in the vapour phase across a sieve the vapour Sowing upwards, hL refers to the effective
tray is modelled as (Zuiderweg, 1982): clear liquid height on the tray deck that must be
overcome by the liquid in the downcomer, and
P"Pdry#l ghl [3] hda refers to the pressure loss due to the liquid Sow
under the downcomer apron. Note that ht is necessary
where the dry pressure drop is given by: to keep the upward Sow of vapour, but acts as a pres-
sure differential that works against the natural liquid

1 ug,h Sow in the downcomer. If this pressure differential is
Pdry" G [4]
2 CD large, the liquid will back up more in the downcomer.
This points out the coupling between the pressure
Here, g is the acceleration due to gravity, hl is the loss in the vapour phase through the tray deck area
liquid height or hold-up in metres, ug,h is the vapour and the liquid Sow in the downcomer. An optimal
velocity in the hole in metres per second, CD is the design must balance these two factors carefully.
drag coefRcient, and (G, l) are the densities of the hL and ht can be estimated from the correlations
vapour and liquid, respectively. The second term in provided in the previous section. hda can be estimated
eqn [3] represents the static head due to the liquid from:
hold-up on the tray. Hence the liquid height, hl must
be predicted from correlations that depend on the hda"165.2U2da
II / DISTILLATION / Tray Columns: Performance 1143

where hda is in millimetres of liquid and Uda is the ciency is related to the overall number of transfer
velocity under the downcomer apron in metres per units by:
EOG"1!e\NOG [9]
Froth Height and Density Calculation
Chen and Chuang present the following correlation for
The froth density (or the two-phase density) has been NOG using data free of weeping and entrainment. But
measured using gamma ray techniques. The average the data set spans both the froth and spray regimes:
liquid volume fraction on a sieve tray, deRned as
1 LF2s 1/3
N l"hl/hb, is correlated by: 11 0.1 0.14 (DGtG)0.5
NOG" [10]
1 ug G 0.5 n

!1"c1 [8] 11 DGG 0.5 MGL
N l (ghl) 0.5
L  #1
Here, hb is the froth or bed height in metres and ug is
Here "mG/L is the separation factor, Fs"us(G
the vapour velocity on bubbling area in metres per
is the superRcial F-factor in kg0.5/m0.5s, tG"hf/us is
second. The constants c1 and n depend on the type of
the vapour-phase contact time in seconds, and hf is
Sow regimes. In the spray regime, they take on the
the froth height in metres. Note that this correlation
values of c1"265 and n"1.7, while in the
combines the geometrical parameters such as , the
mixed/emulsion regime, they are 40 and 0.8. This
fractional perforated area, Ab the bubbling area, the
requires one to estimate the Sow regime to be ex-
system properties such as densities (L, G), diffusivi-
pected under a given set of operating conditions. In
ties (DL, DG) viscosity (), the interfacial tension ()
Figure 3 of Part I, we identiRed the limits of operation
in newtons per metre, the molecular weights
to lie between the weeping and Sooding conditions
(ML, MG), and operating conditions such as (L, G),
as the vapour rate is increased. Even within this
Sow rates. This correlation appears to predict the
permissible range of operation, the Sow condition has
point efRciencies to within 5% of experimental data
been observed to change from spray to froth to emul-
over a wide range of pressures.
sion to bubble Uow regimes. The transition into
the spray regime is given by the capacity factor de- Murphree Tray Ef\ciency Calculation
Rned as: The point efRciency model presented above is based

g 0.5
g h )F
0.5 1.5
on a detailed examination of mass transfer at the
CF"ug "0.85 vapour/liquid interface. The ideal equilibrium tray
l dh
assumption used in the McCabe}Thiele method as-
Here, CF is the capacity factor deRned as ug((G/L) serts that the Sow condition on a tray is homogeneous
in metres per second, ug is the vapour velocity in the everywhere. If that were true, the point efRciency
bubbling area in metres per second, F is the fractional would be the same everywhere on the tray. But there
hole area per unit bubbling area and dh is the hole is strong evidence that the Sow is not homogeneous,
diameter in metres. The transition from the the degree of inhomogeneity being larger in large
spray/froth to emulsion/bubble Sow regime is con- diameter columns. Several researchers have tried to
trolled by the ratio of horizontal liquid momentum to measure the velocity proRles across a sieve tray and
vertical vapour momentum and is given by: increasingly computational Suid dynamics is being
used as a tool to predict such Sow Relds. (See for

ul l 0.5
" '3.0 example Solari and Bell (1986) and Mehta et al.
ug G b ) hl (1998)). This information on Sow proRle must be
where ul is the horizontal liquid velocity, ug is the integrated with the point efRciency calculations in
vapour velocity on bubbling area in metres per second, order to predict a Murphree tray efRciency. One such
and FP is the Sow parameter deRned in eqn [5], b is the method is given below as an illustration. This model
weir length per unit bubbling area in metres\1, hl is the considers only the effect of longitudinal mixing.
liquid height or hold-up in metres. A measure of the effective diffusivity, DE is needed in
this model. Models of other Sow conRguration are
Point Ef\ciency Calculation discussed in Lockett (1986):
There are many empirical correlations for predicting EMV 1!e\(E#Pe)
the mass transfer efRciencies on sieve trays. The most "
EOG (#Pe)1#[(#Pe)/]
recent one is that proposed by Chen and Chuang
(1993). It is based on data from industrial sized col- e\E!1
# [11]
umns of Fractionation Research Inc. The point efR- 1#[/(#Pe)]
1144 II / DISTILLATION / Tray Columns: Performance

where: sieve plate, instead of the downcomer, which is the

preferred path for the liquid. If weeping is signiRcant,

" 1# !1 then it results in mixing of liquid streams between
2 Pe two neighbouring trays, thus degrading the perfor-
and Pe is the Peclet number, deRned as Pe"Z2l/DEtl. mance of the column. The need to avoid weeping
Here Zl is the length of liquid travel, or the distance places a limit on the minimum vapour velocity.
between the two weirs and tl is the liquid residence Zuiderweg presents the following correlations to pre-
time. The effective diffusivity is given by: dict the minimum operating limit.

(DE"0.0124#0.017uG#0.0025L#0.0150W Mixed/free bubbling regime

[12] FP
CFw"F(ghl 1!0.15
where DE is in square feet per second, uG is superRcial bhl
gas velocity, expressed as cubic feet per second
divided by the active bubbling area in square feet. As
the Peclet number becomes large, this model predicts Emulsion Uow regime
efRciency enhancement much large than unity. In
large diameter columns (large Zl) the Peclet number CFw"0.45F(ghl
can tend to take a large value which would suggest
signiRcant efRciency enhancements. But it should be
remembered that the above model considers only the where CFw"ug(G/(L!G) is the capacity factor
longitudinal mixing process. In large diameter col- at the weep point in metres per second, and F is the
umns, the liquid Sow structure can be much more fractional hole area per unit bubbling area. Correla-
complicated as documented by Solari and Bell (1986). tions to estimate the type of Sow regime are given by
Hence, predicted values of EMV/EOG greater than 1.2 Zuiderweg. Note that weeping will seldom occur in
by the longitudinal mixing model should be viewed the spray regime as vapour velocities are sufRciently
with caution, as they may not be realized in the Reld. large under design conditions. The effect of weeping
on the tray efRciency calculation has been studied by
Effect of Entrainment on Murphree Kageyama (1969).
Tray Ef\ciency
The effect of entrainment on the Murphree tray efR- Extensions to Multicomponent
ciency is estimated from: Systems

1 The methods outlined above have been developed
EMV,entrain"EMV [13]
) largely using experimental data for binary, two-phase
systems. The question of whether they can be applied
where: to multicomponent systems can be examined as fol-
e absolute entrainment lows. Tray hydraulics factors such as pressure drops,

" " Sow regimes, froth densities, etc., depend only on the
L#e total liquid flow rate
Suid mechanics of the two-phase mixture on sieve
where e is the entrained liquid in moles per hour. trays; hence one can expect the correlations to be
Zuiderweg presents the following empirical equation useful for multicomponent mixtures as long as mix-
to predict the liquid entrainment in the spray regime: ture properties for densities, viscosities, interfacial
tensions, etc., are used. On the other hand, the point

hb ug,h hb efRciency (and hence the Murphree tray efRciency)

"1.0;10\8 for 0.3( (0.9
Hs ul Hs depends on the mass transfer resistance of each
component species in each phase. Since the diffusivi-
Here Hs is the tray spacing in metres, hb is the bed ties and the equilibrium ratios (or the slope of the
height as deRned in eqn [8], ug,h is the vapour velocity equilibrium curve, m) could vary for each species, the
in the hole in metres per second and ul is the horizon- point efRciency will be different for each species. The
tal liquid velocity. correlation given in eqn [10] is based on binary mass
transfer data.
Weeping Point Determination
In the pseudo binary method of calculation (see
When the vapour velocity is too small, the liquid on Kister, 1992) two components are identiRed as
a tray deck can Sow down through the holes on the the light key and heavy key components and the
II / DISTILLATION / Vapour}Liquid Equilibrium: Correlation and Prediction 1145

Murphree tray efRciency is determined for such a bi- a cost function that includes the capital cost of the
nary pair. One then has the option of either using the equipment (which determines the column diameter,
efRciency so calculated for all of the remaining com- tray spacing, etc.) and operating costs (which deter-
ponents or repeating the procedure for all possible mine the reSux and reboil rates and the number of
binary pairs. Such detailed estimates of com- ideal stages).
ponent efRciencies are then used as inputs to ad-
vanced process simulators such as ASPEN. See also: II/Distillation: Historical Development; Instru-
mentation and Control Systems; Theory of Distillation;
Tray Columns: Design; Packed Columns: Design and Per-
Issues Relating to Scale-up formance; Vapour-Liquid Equilibrium: Correlation and Pre-
of Ef\ciency Data diction; Vapour-Liquid Equilibrium: Theory.
Since the point efRciency data and correlations (like
eqn [10] are (or should be) based on local conditions, Further Reading
they should, in principle, remain valid on all scales.
They are then integrated with Sow conditions to Chen GX and Chuang KT (1993) Prediction of Point EfT-
predict the overall tray efRciency. Correlations such ciency for Sieve Trays in Distillation. I & EC Research,
as eqn [11], which provide this function of integrat- vol. 32, p. 701.
Fair JR et al. (1997) In: Perry RH and Green D (eds.),
ing the point efRciency to provide tray efRciency, do
Perrys Chemical Engineers Handbook } Section 14,
not remain valid at all scales. It has been well 7th edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.
documented that the liquid Sow patterns change Kageyama, O. Plate efRciency in distillation towers with
quite dramatically depending on the diameter of the weeping and entrainment, I. Chem. E. Symposium Series
column and the location of the weirs near the down- No. 32.
comer. In future one can expect computational Uuid Kister HZ (1992) Distillation Design. New York:
dynamics to provide detailed Sow information using McGraw-Hill.
models that remain scale invariant over a wide range Lockett MJ (1986) Distillation Tray Fundamentals. Cam-
of diameters. bridge University Press.
Mehta B, Chuang KT and Nandakumar K (1998) Model
for liquid phase Sow on sieve trays. Transactions of the
Concluding Remarks Institute of Chemical Engineers, part A (in press).
A series of correlations taken from the literature are Rose LM (1985) Distillation Design in Practice. Amster-
presented. They permit the evaluation of the perfor- dam: Elsevier.
Rousseau RW (1987) Handbook of Separation Process
mance of a sieve tray, once a set of design parameters
Technology, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
has been chosen as outlined in Part I. At the design Solari RB and Bell RL (1986) Fluid Sow patterns and
stage of a new sieve tray column, one can embed this velocity distributions on commercial scale sieve trays.
design and performance analysis steps into an optim- American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal 32:
ization procedure, in such a way that the design 640.
parameters may be altered until a speciRed objective Zuiderweg FJ (1982) Sieve trays: A view of the state of the
function is satisRed. The objective function could be art. Chemical Engineering Science 37: 1441.

Vapour+Liquid Equilibrium: Correlation and Prediction

B. C.-Y. Lu, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, original mixture. The process involves both the va-
Ontario, Canada, porization of the original liquid in order to
D.-Y. Peng, University of Saskatchewan, generate the vapours and the subsequent condensa-
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada tion of the vapours to form the desired liquid
Copyright ^ 2000 Academic Press products. It is evident that vapour}liquid equilibria
(VLE) are essential to this separation process.
Typical temperature}composition (T}x}y) diagrams,
Introduction pressure}composition (P}x}y) diagrams, and va-
Distillation is a process used to separate liquid mix- pour}liquid composition (x}y) diagrams for com-
tures into two or more streams, each of which has pletely miscible binary systems are depicted in
a composition that is different from that of the Figure 1.