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Aspen Plus Tutorial 1: Hydrogenation of Benzene

Hydrogenation of benzene is used to produce cyclohexane in the process showed below.

This example is typical of a model developed for preliminary process flowsheet

evaluation.§ Fresh benzene and make-up hydrogen are mixed with recycle hydrogen and
recycle cyclohexane from the process and fed to a fixed-bed catalytic reactor. In the
reactor, the reaction is
C6H6 + 3 H2  C6H12

The heat released from this highly exothermic reaction is removed by boiling water
outside tubes containing the catalyst pellets. The reactor effluent is cooled and separated
into liquid and vapor phases. The liquid phase is fed to a distillation column to remove
the dissolved light ends and to stabilize the liquid product. Part of the liquid from the
separator is recycled to the reactor to aid in temperature control.

Once a flowsheet simulation model of the process is developed, it can be used to

investigate the effect of the cyclohexane recycle rate on the heat load from the reactor.
We can also study the effect of the purge rate on the buildup of inert components in the

For now, you just need to put the flowsheet together. Use the Redlich-Kwong-Soave
(RK-SOAVE) property method in the simulation. The input data are listed as follows:

The description here is taken verbatim from an old Aspen Manual. When you write a report, you need to
make a decision if the description should include explicitly the unit and stream labels. Roughly, we do not
if we are just making a general conception description. Otherwise, we do if we are writing a technical
description of the process and how it is designed.
Feed Streams
Composition (Mole Percent) Fresh Benzene Make-up Hydrogen
Hydrogen - 97.5
Nitrogen - 0.5
Methane - 2.0
Benzene 100.0 -

Flow rate (lb-mol/h) 100 300 (estimate*)

Temperature (°F) 100 120
Pressure (psia) 15 335
* The flow of make-up hydrogen should be set to obtain a mole ratio of
hydrogen to benzene equal to 3.3 in the feed to the reactor

Feed Pump
Centrifugal pump
Outlet pressure (psia) 335

Feed Preheater
Outlet temperature (°F) 300
Pressure drop (psi) 5

Stoichiometry: as stated in the process description
Conversion 99.8 percent conversion of benzene in feed
Outlet temperature (°F) 400
Pressure drop (psi) 15

Product Cooler
Outlet temperature (°F) 120
Pressure drop (psi) 5

Heat loss negligible
Pressure drop negligible

Purge rate 8 percent of vapor from separator

Recycle Compressor
Positive displacement
Outlet pressure (psia) 335

Cyclohexane Recycle
Recycle flow 30 percent of liquid from separator

Recycle Pump
Centrifuge pump
Outlet pressure (psia) 335

Stabilizer (Column)
No. of theoretical stages 13 (plus additional condenser and reboiler)
Feed location 8 (counting from top, condenser = 1)
Pressure 200 psia throughout
Reflux ratio 1.2
Cyclohexane recovery 99.99 percent in bottoms
Partial condenser
Distillate is vapor product