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Dividing Wall Columns

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Dividing Wall Columns (DWC’s) are widely applied by BASF in Ludwigshafen: between 40 and 50 of these columns are currently in operation. Sasol South Africa applies DWC technology in its prefractionator in Sasolburg, the biggest column to date (height 64,5 m; diameter 4,5 m). Other companies include Sumitomo, Condea, Cognis, Bayer, VEBA RuhrÅ‘l, Chevron, BP, CEPSA, ExxonMobil, Aral Aromatics and UOP. The author shows various configurations of DWC’s depending on the characteristics of the mixture that needs separation. He introduces as a rule of thumb the notion that the bigger the side draw of the DWC, the better the dividing wall performs. Energy savings may be up to 30%, Investment cost may go down by 30%, plot space can go down by 40% and – product wise – product output quality may improve due to significant lower residence time of chemicals in the DWC compared to conventional distillation. The author wraps up noting that the choice for a DWC is in fact determined by the readiness for decision-making since there are no other real risks involved, neither in construction nor in operation.

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