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Aspen Separation

Unit Operations

Group 7: Samuel Guo, Marisa Maher, Alex

Mitchell, Tanner Pfendner, Vivian Tran

● Introduction
● Separators
○ Flash
○ Decanter
○ Sep/Sep2
● Columns
○ ConSep
○ RadFrac
● Modeling Stripper and Absorption Columns in Aspen
● Solid Separators
○ Gas-Solid
○ Liquid-Solid
○ Solid-Solid
● Questions?
● The type of separation unit operation is chosen depending on the type of mixture you are
trying to separate.
● These separators can be found on the Main Flowsheet of Aspen in the Model Pallette.
● This presentation will go in detail about several of the separators below.


Solid Separators:

● A one stage process that separates a feed mixture into separate streams, a vapor stream
rich in one component and a liquid stream rich in the other component.
● Two-outlet flash (Flash2)
○ Uses rigorous VL (2 phase) or VLL (3 phase) equilibrium.
○ Can represent equipment such as flashes and evaporators.
○ Outputs one vapor stream and one liquid stream, may have a water decant stream.
● Three-outlet flash (Flash3)
○ Uses rigorous VLL equilibrium.
○ Can model flash drums and decanters, especially if you do not know if there is a vapor phase.
○ Outputs one vapor stream and two liquid streams.
● Thermodynamics
○ For VLL equilibrium, should be (Soave-Redlich-Kwong) SRK and not ideal
● Able to specify the fraction of liquid entrained in the vapor stream.
Flash Inputs
● There are multiple options for Flash Type, and
two types must be specified.
● If temperature and pressure are specified in the
Specifications tab, then they do not need to be
specified in the Flash Options tab.
● Valid phases can be specified for Flash2.
● The key component in the second liquid phase
can be specified in Flash3.

● Centrifuge for liquid separation

● No vapor present- if vapor is present, use flash
● In Aspen, separates either Liquid-Liquid, Liquid-FreeWater, or Liquid-DirtyWater
○ Often used to separate water from a liquid mixture
● Separates liquid components based on either fugacity or Gibbs free energy of the
○ Fugacity- tendency for liquid to stay as a liquid.
○ Lower fugacity=lowers Gibbs free energy
○ Easier to manipulate mathematically in Aspen
Decanter- Aspen Inputs
Calculation Options
Required Specifications
● If fugacity is used, liquid-liquid coefficients can be found from a
● Temperature and Pressure
property method, KLL correlation, or KLL subroutine
● Duty and Pressure
○ KLL=Liquid-liquid distribution coefficients for components in
a mixture
● Gibbs free energy does not require input of coefficients
● Sep: Representation of a separation technique when column is known, but energy
balance is unknown. Splits components into two or more streams
● Sep2: offers a wider variety of specifications
● In other words, Sep and Sep2 can be used as a “filler” separation unit when the energy
balance for a separation is unknown.

● Sep Specifications:
○ Outlet stream and
substream can be
identified from
component ID

● Sep2 Specifications:
○ Offers ability to input
additional stream
specs such as split

● Distillation is used to separate liquids according to boiling point

○ Helpful for azeotropic swings
● Multiple column choices in Aspen
○ Distl
○ RadFrac
○ ConSep
● Certain columns are more reliable than others
● Distillation columns in Aspen can take on other functions
1. DSTWU Column

● Winn Underwood Gilliland Method

● Calculates Rmin, Nmin, and required
number of stages for a set reflux ratio
and vice versa
● For single feed and two products
2. ConSep Column

● Determines feasibility of column

● Beneficial when working with
● Interactive design
○ Change product compositions and
reflux ratio
○ Rectify and Stripping profiles must
intersect to be feasible
● Can convert ConSep to RadFrac
once feasible
3. RadFrac Column

● Performs “rigorous”
● Should be used in final
● Can be used to simulate:
○ Absorption
○ Stripping
○ Azeotropic distillation
○ Reactive distillation
3. RadFrac Column

● A RADFRAC column can be used to simulate a stripper or absorber in Aspen.

● Strippers use a gaseous stripping agent to separate impurities from liquids while
absorbers use a liquid solvent to separate impurities from gases.
● Solvents or stripping agents are selected based on the solubility of the impurity in that
solvent or stripping agent. Typically, the ideal solvent is chemically similar to the impurity
that is to be separated.
Modeling an Absorber in Aspen

1. Under the columns tab of the

model palette, select a RADFRAC
column for your absorber unit.

2. Under the Configuration tab in

the RADFRAC properties, select the
number of stages and ensure the
column has no condenser or
Modeling an Absorber in Aspen (continued)

3. Under the Streams tab under the

RADFRAC properties, ensure the
solvent is entering the column at the
top (stage 1) and the gas is entering
at the bottom of the column (in this
case at stage 15).

4. Under product streams, ensure

that the liquid product stream is
exiting the unit at the bottom of the
column (stage 15) and the vapor
product is exiting the column at the
top of the column (stage 1).
Solid Separators
Gas-Solid Separation

● Cyclone- Separates solids from gas stream

using gas vortex centrifugal force

● VScrub (Venturi Scrubber)- Removes solid

particles from gas stream by contact with
atomized liquid stream
Liquid-Solid Separation

● CFuge- Separates liquid and solids by a

rotating basket

● Filter- Separates liquid and solids using

continuous rotary vacuum filters

● Hycyc (Hydrocyclone)- Separates liquids

and solids using liquid vortex centrifugal
Solid-Solid Separation

● Screen- Separates solids of variable solid

particle sizes in a mixture
Literature Consulted

● AspenPlus User Guide Volume 2 7 - UCSB ChE. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from
● Aspen Tutorial #3: Flash Separation. University of Washington. Retrieved January 31,
2018, from
● Aspen Plus V10