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Thermosiphon Reboiler

1. Introduction:
Thermosiphon Reboilers are heat exchangers used to provide stripping section
vapor for fractional distillation columns. This type of reboiler is very popular for use
within plants. The reasons for the popularity of the thermosiphon unit are several.
First, this type of exchanger minimizes piping and ground area and does not introduce
undue problems of tubeside access for cleaning. Second is the relatively low
equipment cost associated with this type of exchanger. These reboilers also offer
excellent rates of heat transfer.
2. Working Principle:
Thermosiphon reboilers is basically a shell and tube heat exchanger, requiring
no pumps to pump the vapor into the column back. These reboilers work on a simple
principle based on difference of densities of liquid and vapor. Below is shown a
typical diagram of thermosiphon reboiler.

Fig-2.1, Thermosiphon Reboiler

The above shown reboiler is a typical recirculating reboiler. Recirculation
of these systems is driven by the density difference between the outlet
and inlet line. In the system as the total driving force for flow should be
equal the total resistance to flow, so we can write:
Driving force = Resist force against flow
H1*density1 = DPpipe in + DPpipeout+ DPreboiler +H2*average density2
So as seen from the relation written above, the gravitational potential of
the liquid boot is responsible for sending the mixture of liquid and vapor
back into the column. So in thermosiphon reboilers we dont need to use
any pump for pumping the vapor. In this reboiler first liquid comes into
the reboiler, where it come in contact of hot fluid flowing through the
reboiler, due to which it gets heated and most of its part is vaporized. And
then due to reduction in density, it raises itself and this mixture goes back
to column.

3. Types of Thermosiphon Reboilers:

There are mainly two kinds of thermosiphon reboiler:
Horizontal, shell-side boiling reboilers (Figure 3.1)
Vertical reboilers (Figure 3.2)

Horizontal, shell-side boiling reboilers:

There are two types of Horizontal, shell-side boiler. One is
recirculating and another is once through. In recirculating reboilers, liquid
comes out from the liquid boot at the bottom of the column, gets heated
and then goes back to column. While in case of once through, feed to the
reboiler comes from the last tray of the column instead of the liquid boot
in the bottom. The liquid gets heated while passing through the shell side
and then this heated mixture of vapor and liquid goes back.

Figure 3.1.1

Figure: 3.1.2

Vertical reboilers:
These are also of two types: Vertical, tube side boiling, once
through and vertical, shell-side boiling, recirculating. Besides the
difference stated earlier between once through and recirculating, there is
one more difference that in once through liquid is heated while passing
through shell and in recirculating liquid is heated while passing through

Figure: 3.2.1

Figure: 3.2.2
The table shows the choice of reboiler based on different factors.
The table tells which type of reboiler should be chosen as well as which
should not be chosen.
Favored types
Disfavored types
fraction compared to boilup
High relative volatility
Large exchanger size or
high duty requirements
Tight plot plan
Ample plot plan

Liquid Liquid-Vapor Separator

A liquid-liquid-vapor separator is one which first separates vapor
from the liquid mixtures and then separates the mixture of two liquids. It
first uses a vertical separator to separate vapor followed by a horizontal
separator to separate the two liquids from each other.

The analysis presented here is a case study to check whether the
design of the separator separating a mixture caustic, DSO and vapor is
appropriate or not.

In vertical separators, for separations the velocities of both the
continuous phases should be less than the terminal velocities of their
dispersed phases respectively. And the same principle is in the case of
horizontal separator.


Formulae Used:
For terminal velocity of vapor bubble in liquid phase:
ut = (v - l)*g*DP2/(18*l)
For terminal velocity of liquid droplets in vapor phase:
ut = 0.153*(v - l)0.71*g0.71*DP1.14/(l0.29*l0.43)
For terminal velocity of DSO droplet in caustic phase:
ut = (v - l)*g*DP2/(18*l)
Dmin = (4*M/* ut)0.5
v = viscosity of vapor
l = viscosity of liquid
v = density of vapor
c = density of liquid
DP = diameter of bubble or droplet

Observation and Calculation:

Mv (vapor volumetric flow rate)
Mc(Caustic volumetric flow rate)
Md(DSO volumetric flow rate)
v(viscosity of vapor)
c(viscosity of caustic)
d(viscosity of DSO)
v(density of vapor)
c(density of caustic)
d(density of DSO)

= 60 m3/h
= 10 m3/h
= 0.35 m3/h
= 0.018 cP
= 1.2 cP
= 0.3 cP
= 1.29 Kg/m3
= 1070 Kg/m3
= 970 Kg/m3

For Vertical separator:

For liquid phase:
DP = 175 micron (taken from UOP data)
So, ut (bubble) = 0.01511 m/s
Dmin (vapor side) = 0.492 m
DP = 150 micron (taken from UOP data)


ut (bubble) = 0.00970 m/s

Dmin (vapor side) = 0.6000 m
For vapor phase:
DP = 250 micron (taken from UOP data)
So, ut (droplet) = 0.86745 m/s
Dmin (liquid side) = 0.050 m

For Horizontal separator:

DP = 125 microns
ut = 0.000708 m/s
For minimum diameter,
L/V(continuous phase) = D/(terminal velocity)

Dmin = 4*ML/(*L*ut)
Here L = 8.6 0.75 = 7.85 m
Dmin = 0.66 m

As seen from the above calculation, in liquid phase of vertical
separator minimum diameter belonging to a droplet size of 175 microns is
0.5. This default value for diameter of droplets has been suggested by
UOP. But if diameter of droplet reduces to 150 microns, minimum
diameter becomes 0.6 m, which is the diameter in our case. Which shows
that all the droplets smaller than 150 microns will go down with liquid.
Hence a diameter of 0.6 m is inadequate for our case. It needs to be
increased, as we always have to take more diameter than the minimum
diameter. However, diameter of 0.6 m is adequate for all other separations
as seen from the results calculated.

Diameter of vertical separator requires to be increased in order to
avoid vapor bubbles to go with liquid.

Laboratory Tests
The various tests performed on crude as well as products are
briefly described below.

Flash point:
The minimum temperature, at which the sample produces sufficient
vapor, which can flash on applying a flame. It is associated with the
safety during storage. For products, which are stored should have high
flash points in order to avoid accidents. In this experiment a spark is kept
being given to sample with gradual increase in temperature. The
temperature, at which vapor starts flashing, is flash point. This test is
carried out for heavier ends starting from diesel.

Pour Point:
The maximum temperature, at which oil becomes immobile due to
settling of wax and hence cant be pumped, is known as Pour point. If
pour point is less than there will be difficulties in transport of oil. This is
mainly done for heavier ends. For HSD, it should be 3 deg.C in winter
and 15 deeg.C in summer. While for LDO , it is 12 and 23 deg.C in
summer and winter respectively.

Cold filter plugging point:

It is the maximum temperature at which liquid fails to pass through
a standard orifice of diameter 0.8mm in 1 minute. In this test, time taken
for the liquid to pass the orifice is noted, and hence cold filter plugging
point can be measured. This is mainly done for heavier ends. It should
generally be less than 0 deg.C.

Copper corrosion:
This test indicates whether the sample is corrosive towards copper
containing alloys or not, because if it is corrosive then it can cause
corrosion in equipment while storage and transport. This is applicable to
all fuels.

This test measures the content of sulphur in the sample. Sulphur is
one of the main pollutant as well as corrosive to the fuel systems. So its
quantity in the sample is to be checked. The sulphur content is measure
through X-ray test, in which electrons in sulphur atoms are excited. Other
way is use of furnace in which sulphur is first oxidised to SO 2, then its
quantity is measured (this test is done to measure sulphur content in

catalyst used for polymerisation). Its maximum allowed value is 0.05 %

by weight. This test is done for all fuels.

Kinematic viscosity:
It is defined as resistance to flow. This property of fuel oils is very
crucial for pump selections for transporting. This test is also done for
fuel oils. For HSD it should be maximum 2.5 cStoke and for LDO it
should be max. 0.1 cStoke. In this test, the liquid is passed through a
bubble, which is attached to the tubes from both sides. The time taken by
the liquid to pass through the bubble is noted and then kinemetic
viscosity is calculated. The two instruments used for it are Cannon fienski
and Ubelhood.

Octane number (Ron and MON):

It is defined as the percent volume of iso-octane in a mixture of
iso-octane and normal heptane that gives the same knocking as the fuel
tested. It is a measure of knocking. In this test the mechanical shocks in
the engine are converted into electrical shocks and octane no. is measured
by comparing these shocks with that of the standard fuel. It should be
between 84-88 for the gasoline used in India and above 95 for the
gasoline exported. There are two types of Octane numbers: Research
octane no. (RON) and Motor octane no. (MON). The only difference in
these two numbers is that these are measured in different test conditions.

Anti Knock Index:

AKI is defined as the average of RON and MON. AKI is regarded
as more critical for engine performance than RON alone.

Cetane Number:
It is defined as the percent volume of n-cetane in a mixture of ncetane and alpha Methylnaphthalene that would give the same knocking
as that of the fuel under test. It is also a measure of knocking. This test is
performed for Diesel. It should be more than 48. In this test also,
mechanical shocks are converted into electrical shocks and compared
with the standard fuel.

Smoke Point:
It is defined as the maximum length of the flame, which does not produce
smoke when, tested under prescribed condition. This test is mainly done
for Kerosene. Flame cant be elongated after a certain length, when
kerosene is burnt, because light decreases due to the formation of smoke.
It should be minimum 18 mm.

Reid vapor pressure:

It is the vapor pressure generated by the vapor, occupying four
times of volume as the liquid is occupying, with which it is in
equilibrium. This test is done for naphtha and gasoline. This is used to
predict the maximum pressure applied to the fuel tank. It should be
around 70 and 50 Kpa for Naphtha and Gasoline respectively.

Benzene content:
Benzene content is measured through this test. This test is mainly
done for gasoline. Benzene is carcinogenic in nature. SO this test shows
how harmful the fuel is. In India its maximum value is 5% by volume.

This test measures acidity of solution. It is measured by titrating
the solution with alc. KOH. This test is performed for all products as well
as crude. More acidic the sample more corrosive it will be. So acidity of
the ample should be less. It should be less than 0.05 mgKOH/gm.

Mercaptane sulphur:
This test measures the content of mercaptane sulphur in the sample.
It is measures by titrating the sample with AgNO 3. This test is done also
done for all the products as well as crude. This is responsible for

Bromine Number:
It is defined as the grams of bromine reacted with 100 grams of
sample. It gives the olefinity of sample and hence the reactivity. More the
olefins in the sample more it will react with environment and more
gummy product will be formed, which create problem in storage. This
test is done for all products. It should be less than 55.

ASTM Distillation:
Petroleum oils are mixtures of hydrocarbons. So we have a range
of boiling points instead a boiling point. It should have a particular range
so that it can be used for a particular application. For an example, the
fuel to be used in engines should have its boiling point range such that the
fuel mixture should burn through out the burning stroke and not just at
the beginning only. For Motor Gasoline the specification are as follows:
Recovery at 70C in %v
Recovery at 100C in %v
Recovery at 180C in %v
90 min
Final Boiling Point
215 max.

In ASTM distillation, we have a column, which has one theoretical

plate and hence acts like a flash chamber. The distillate samples are taken
at different temperatures from this column. From the composition of the
distillate samples, the fraction of liquid vaporized at that temperature can
be calculated. Thus we can find out Initial and final boiling point as well
as fraction of liquid vaporized at any temperature.

True Boiling Point Distillation:

This is a laboratory technique defined for distillation. The column
used in TBP here is packed with steel packing, which works like 15-18
theoretical plates. It uses kettle reboiler. The vacuum column used is a
hollow column having an operating pressure of 10 mmHg. This is mainly
done to check the quality of crude. Top temperature is increased
gradually. Through distillation different samples are taken at different
temperature ranges in separate collector and fractional recovery is
measured and compared with the standards given by shell. These samples
are called cuts. So the yield pattern likely to be obtained from refinery
can be estimated. These cuts undergo various other tests. This test is very
important as if the crude processed is rough then that can be blended with
good crude and then processed and vice-versa.

Crude Column
Crude is first heated from 25C to 129C in two parallel trains
using heat exchangers. The hot streams for these heat exchangers are
various product streams coming from down the process. This heated
crude is then sent to desalter to remove the salt from the crude. In this
process the crude cools down to 116C. Then this desalted crude is again
heated in two parallel trains up to 192C before entering in flash chamber,
where it flashes into vapor and liquid. The vapor directly becomes feed to
the crude column while the liquid is heated up to 382C using furnace
and heat exchangers before entering the crude column. From crude
column six product streams are taken out having Heavy Atmospheric Gas
Oil (HAGO), Heavy Kerosene Oil (HKO), Diesel, Light Kerosene Oil
(LKO) and overhead gas which is unstablised naphtha. Crude column
uses Low-pressure steam to provide stripping vapor instead of reboiler.

Overhead gases from Crude columns are sent to Saturated Gas

Concetration unit, where stablized naphtha, LPG are obtained. Bottom
product of Crude column is reduced crude which is sent to Vacuum
distillation unit for further precessing.
HAGO from crude column goes to HAGO stripper, from where
bottom product goes to Diesel hydrotreater and overhead gases are
refluxed to Crude column. This stripper uses a reboiler, which is heat
exchanger. HKO goes to heavy kerosene stripper, from where also
overhead gases are refluxed to Crude column and bottom product goes to
VGOHT (vacuum gas oil hydrotreater). LP steam is supplied to this
stripper to provide stripping vapor instead of a reboiler. Similarly, Diesel
and LKO also go to Diesel and light kerosene stripper respectively. Diesel
stripper uses LP (low-pressure) steam and light kerosene stripper uses
reboiler to provide stripping vapor. From here also overhead gases are
refluxed while bottom product is used to heat up crude and then stored in

Column Internals
(Points to be focused: type, manufacturer, application, unique features)

Mellapak is structured packing having following features and applications:

Unique features:
Universal Packing Type suitable for a wide range of applications.
Pressure drop of 0.3 to 1.0 mbar per theoretical stage.
Usable over wide range of liquid loads.
Vacuum to positive pressure
Super fractionators
Sour and acid gas absorbers and desorption columns.

MellapakPlus is an improved version of Mellapak. The improvement has been
brought out because of problem of flooding in Mellapk packing. MellapkPlus is also
structured packing.
Main features:
MellapakPlus is high-capacity structured packing. It has typically 20 to 30% more
capacity compared to conventional structured packings and the useful capacity is
boosted up to 50%.
It offers a wide range of technical and coomercial advantages(lower investments
and operating costs):
For new columns: smaller column diameter is required.
For existing column: higher capacity at the same efficiency.
It can be used from low vacuum up to high-pressure application.
Everything valid for Mellapak is also true with with MellapkPlus.
It has same applications as Mellapak has.
Mellagrid has following features:
It is not sensitive to coking and fouling due to its geometrical structure and
smooth surface.
It has much better demisting and separation efficiency than traditional grid.
It has mechanically robust structure.
The structure and element height allow for easy cleaning.
Vacuum tower (specially in the bottom). It is also used in the pump around section
with high liquid and gas loadings.
FCC main fractionator slurry and wash section.
High Performance Trays
Nutter MVG TrayTM:
The Nutter MVG tray is a high performance V-grid tray. It combines the
benefits of the V-grid tray and smaller fixed valves to achieve these additional
Greater capacity compared to standard sieve or valve trays.
Higher efficiency and lower pressure drop than sieve or valve tray.
Improved liquid flow and vapor/liquid contacting through lateral vapor release.
High turndown ratio makes it useful for varying design loads.
Increased tray deck stiffness provides added durability and upset resistance.
Nutter MVG tray with combination of multiple downcomers forms VGMD trays.
Features of VortexTrays are as follows:

Circular downcomers provide optimal use of the downcomer area.

Vortex baffles with chimneys for improved vapor diengagement and reduced
downcomer choking.
Longer weirs result in lower tray pressure drop and downcomer back-up.
No downcomer seal area maximizes the active tray area.
Vortex downcomers will not partition the inter-tray space to allow vapor and
liquid flow equalisation for best efficiency.

High Performance Trays
Bi-FRAC Tray:
Bi-FRAC trayshave following features:
It offers more efficient vapor-liquid contact with minimal liquid
entrainment. Compared to sieve trays, capacity of up to 30% can be
achieved with no loss of efficiency.
The smaller valves on the Bi-FRAC tray provide for a more uniform capability
then sieve trays.
These trays offer far better turndown capability than sieve trays.
The Bi-FRAC tray's bi-directional fixed valve configuration generates a selfcleaning action on the tray deck. This design inhibits fouling and provides longer
service life and reduced maintenance.
Coker, Atmospheric
Crude, Visbreaker and FCCU Main Fractionators

Polymerising systems
Moderately fouling systems

The main features are:
Use of mini-valves (fixed and floating), bubble promoters and design techniques
has enhanced the effective bubbling activity on the tray and improved the flow of
fluid across the tray. Which results in improvement of both hydraulic performance
and mass transfer efficiency.
Advanced downcomer technology and having longer flow path in these trays
maximize the active area available for liquid-vapor contact.
Inlet area enhancements provide greater active area for improved capacity, better
froth initiation and bubbling activity on the tray.


They are especially beneficial in applications requiring a large number of mass

transfer stages, or where mass transfer efficiency is critical to the economics of the
operation. Examples include superfractionators (ethylene, propylene, xylene), light
hydrocarbon fractionators, splitters in chemical and petrochemical applications, and
aromatics services.
The main feature of NYE Tray is that it uses th tray inlet area under the
downcomer as active area for vapor-liquid contacting. Thus it provides more area for
vapor-liquid contact as well as decreases the rising vapor velocity for the same vapor
flow rate, which helps in increasing the capacity of tower without flooding.
Ethylene Plants
Propylene Plants
Refinery Light Ends
C2 Splitters
C3 Splitters
Xylene Splitters
Acid Gas Removal Systems
Pumparound trays


These valve-type trays have replaced bubble cap and sieve trays as the
industry standard. Their main features are:
These trays offer uniform vapor distribution for high efficiency and works over a
wide operating range.
These trays can bear high loads maintaining same efficiency and low pressure
Initial purchase price, simple installation, and reduced maintenance contribute to
cost effective projects when using FLEXITRAY Valve Trays.
Excellent turn down ratio.
An existing tower equipped with FLEXITRAY Valve Trays can often be used in a
different application with minimum modifications due to the trays' wide operating
range, high capacity, low pressure drop, and excellent efficiency.
FLEXIPAC HC structured packing is actually a pile of corrugated sheets. Its
main features are:
Unlike FLEXIPA, it has been designed for high capacity to avoid flooding.

It offers low pressure-drop and high efficiency.

The new packing can be utilized in any application

where increased capacity without loss of efficiency is
required. Alternatively, by using a smaller crimp size with
lower HETP (higher NTSM) of FLEXIPAC HC
structured packing, a higher column efficiency can be obtained without a loss in
Cascade Mini Ring (CMR):
Its Main features are:
It has Low Aspect Ratio (height to diameter ratio), which is key to Highest
Performance for Mass Transfer.
It allows easy vapor flow hence offer low pressure-drop.
Low pressure drops helps in increasing the capacity.
Solid entering the packing is flushed easily through the packing matrix by the
CMR random packing has been utilized in a wide variety of distillation,
absorption and stripping columns around the world.