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Design Procedure for an Absorption Unit on the AspenPlus Software

Author: Brigitte McNames This manual presents all steps necessary to design an absorber using the AspenPlus simulation software. The manual also includes useful tips, recommendations, and explanations throughout the design procedure. The following example will be used:

Example 1
Problem Statement: Absorption of Acetone in a Packed Tower Acetone is being absorbed by water in a packed tower having a diameter of 0.4866 m at 293 K and 101.32 kPa (1 atm). The inlet air contains 2.6 mol% acetone and outlet 0.5 mol% acetone. The total gas inlet flow rate is 14.0148 kmol/h. The pure water inlet flow is 45.36 kmol/h. (This example is EXAMPLE 10.6-2 taken from reference 1). Schematic:

Gas Outlet xacetone = 0.005

Pure Water Inlet F = 45.36 kmol/h

Absorber T = 293 K P = 1 atm

Gas Inlet xair = 0.974 xacetone = 0.026 F = 14.014 kmol/h

Liquid Outlet xacetone = 0.00648

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Procedure Logon to the AspenPlus system and start a blank simulation. The flowsheet area should appear. (Refer to AspenPlus Setup for a Flow Simulation if you need help.)

Shown above is the Columns subdirectory. Choose the RateFrac block from the subdirectory by clicking on it. If you click on the down arrow next to the RateFrac block, a set of icons will pop up. These icons represent the same calculation procedure and are for different schematical purposes only. Choose the block that best represents the process that you are designing. For our example we will use the RATEFRAC rectangular block at the top left corner. RateFrac is a rate-based nonequilibrium model for simulating all types of multistage vapor-liquid operations such as absorption, stripping, and distillation. RateFrac simulates actual tray and packed columns, rather than the idealized representation of equilibrium stages. A column consists of segments (see schematic for a packed column at right). Segments refer to a portion of packing in a packed column or one or more trays in a tray column. RateFrac performs an initialization calculation where all segments are modeled as equilibrium stages. The results from the initialization step are used to perform the ratebased nonequilibrium calculations. To learn more about RateFrac and its applications refer to the RateFrac help pages.

Packed segment n-1 Packed segment n Packed segment n+1

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First, create a schematic similar to the one above using the RateFrac block. Refer to AspenPlus Setup for a Flow Simulation if you need help. Attach the liquid inlet and gas inlet streams to the feed port. Attach the gas outlet to the vapor distillate port and the liquid outlet to the bottoms port. Once the flow sheet is complete, click the Next button ( ) and the title screen should appear (see below). Give the example a title and change the units from English to Metric on the same screen. Click the button.

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The components screen should appear next. Enter in the species used in the example (see above). The Find button on the bottom of the screen enables you to quickly search for components in the databanks by formula, name, CAS registry number, molecular weight, and normal boiling point. The Elec Wizard button can be used to generate electrolyte components and reactions for electrolyte applications from components you entered. A custom component that is not found in the databanks can be created using the User Defined button. The Reorder button will simply reorder the components that are already defined on the selection sheet. When all components have been entered, click the button. On the next screen, choose a Property Method from the list by pressing on the down button to the right of the box. If you need help refer to AspenPlus Setup for a Flow Simulation. This example will use NRTL. Then click the button.

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Shown at the left is the input page for the air/acetone inlet gas. Enter all the data from the problem statement for temperature, pressure, flow rate, and composition. Make sure that units and definitions correspond to the values that you are entering.

The input sheet for the gas inlet stream should appear (see above). Enter the values from the problem statement. If values are unknown, leave the respective boxes blank. When finished, click the button. The input sheet for the liquid inlet stream should appear. Once again, enter the respective values from the problem statement, and click the button. The input sheet for the absorber block will appear next. A column consists of segments that are used to evaluate mass and heat transfer rates between contacting phases. A segment refers to a portion of packing in a packed column or a series of trays in a tray column. Enter the number of segments. As a rule of thumb, there should be one segment per foot of column height. However, more segments could be used to increase the accuracy. The height of the segment should not be less than the average size of the packing used. This example will use ten. Also on this screen, you can select the condenser and reboiler type. Since we are modeling an absorber, select none for condenser and reboiler. Click the button.

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The view selector that appears on the next screen allows you to select the type of pressure specification that you want to enter. Choose Top/Bottom and enter 1 atm pressure from the problem statement for segment 1. Segment 1 will refer to the first segment at the top of the tower. Click the button. The button will automatically bring you to the tray specification sheet. Since our column consists of packing rather than trays, choose PackSpecs from the data browser at the left. You will be brought to the packing specification sheet. Choose New to create your packing specification for the tower. Start pack segment number at 1, which is the top packed section in the column. The screen shown below will appear for entering packing specifications. Enter a value for the ending segment. For our example, enter ten since it is the last segment of packing in our column. For this example, I have arbitrarily chosen 1.5-in ceramic raschig rings as packing since the packing type was not specified in the problem statement. Guess a packing height that may give us the separation we need to get our final gas and liquid concentrations. Since I have already tackled this problem, I know that the required height of packing necessary to achieve the separation we need is 1.94 m. Click the button to continue.

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The next sheet will ask you to enter the value for the column diameter. Since the column diameter is given in the problem statement, enter the value of 0.4866 m. Click the button. The next screen shown below asks you to specify the location of feed inlets and outlets. Notice that the number eleven was entered for the gas inlet stream. This is because the convention for stream location is above segment. Click the button after entering all necessary information.

All required input is now entered and the simulation can be run. The Results screen is shown below. You can browse through the results by clicking on the double arrow next to the Results header. Notice that the height and packing specifications that we entered gave us the separation specified in the problem statement. From the problem statement, the mole fraction of acetone leaving in the liquid phase is equal to 0.00648, and the mole fraction of acetone leaving in the gas phase is equal to 0.005.

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Additional RateFrac Features on AspenPlus: Additional RateFrac features can be explored and utilized by viewing the data browser. The data browser refers to the column at the left side of the AspenPlus screen. It gives an outline view of the available simulation input, results, and objects that have been defined. Following are additional, but not all, of the commonly used RateFrac features. These features can be utilized through the data browser. Report Options : Report Options is found under the Setup menu of the data browser. This feature will allow you to specify report options and data to include or suppress in the standard AspenPlus report. The report documents all of the input data and defaults used in an AspenPlus run as well as the results of the simulation. This feature allows you control over final information displayed for general information, flowsheets, blocks, and streams. Column Parameters : There are many options available to simulate all different types of columns. Following is a list of options available and their primary functions: Setup Enter the number of segments, specify the condenser and the reboiler, and column operating specifications. TraySpecs and PackSpecs Define the trayed or packed section, tray or packing type, and other parameters. Reactions Enter starting and ending segments for a reactions, as well as reaction, chemistry, and user reactions IDs. Estimates Provide initial liquid and vapor temperature estimates for segments in the column. If you do not enter an estimate, RateFrac generates an initial profile based on the initialization option selected. Equilibrium Segments Specify optional groups of equilibrium segments. Heaters Coolers Enter side heater segment numbers and duties. DesignSpecs: Design specifications can be created if you have a final design value in reach. You enter the specification type and the target value that you would like to obtain. In the process, the stream type, components, segments, and other design information must be identified. AspenPlus will use this information to conform to your design. The number of design specifications must equal the number of manipulated variables. Use the RateFrac Vary Form to specify manipulated variables for the design mode. Convergence: RateFrac usually performs the initialization calculations only up to a relatively relaxed tolerance. In certain situations, you might need to tighten the tolerance on these calculations to generate a good starting point for the rate-based nonequilibrium calculations. When the column has many segments, you might need to loosen the tolerance.

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Oftentimes, the value of the diameter is not given in the problem statement. The following problem is a modification of example one, where percent of flooding is given rather than diameter. The following example will utilize Design Specs to design an absorber under these conditions:

Example 2
Problem Statement: Absorption of Acetone in a Packed Tower Acetone is being absorbed by water in a packed tower having a percent flooding of 0.8 at 293 K and 101.32 kPa (1 atm). The inlet air contains 2.6 mol% acetone and outlet 0.5 mol% acetone. The total gas inlet flow rate is 14.0148 kmol/h. The pure water inlet flow is 45.36 kmol/h. (This example is a modification of EXAMPLE 10.6-2 taken from reference 1).

Gas Outlet xacetone = 0.005

Pure Water Inlet F = 45.36 kmol/h

Absorber T = 293 K P = 1 atm

Gas Inlet xair = 0.974 xacetone = 0.026 F = 14.014 kmol/h

Liquid Outlet xacetone = 0.00648

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Procedure Logon to the AspenPlus system just as in the first example. Create an identical flowsheet, and enter all data exactly the same as in Example one, until you get to packing specifications. This time, we do not know the packing height, so we must make an estimate. For this example, we will estimate a packing height of 1 meter. Click the button. A value for the total packing height must be entered in order for the AspenPlus simulation to run. This estimated value will be overridden in the Design Specs area of the program, where the height will be varied in order to satisfy entered mole fraction values.

The diameter input screen should appear next. In this example, the value of the diameter is not known. AspenPlus can calculate the diameter based upon the percent flooding of the column. Choose Use calculated diameter and enter the values as shown below. An estimate must also be entered for the diameter. This example will use 1 meter.

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Now, you must enter the Design Specification information. We are going to vary the packing height in the column in order to satisfy the mole fraction of acetone leaving the column in the gas outlet stream. Scroll down the data browser and choose Flowsheeting Options and then Design Specs. Click the New button on the screen that appears. The design spec of DS-1 will appear and choose okay to accept. The screen for the Fortran variable will appear. Choose new. The screen shown below will appear. In the area labeled Spec, enter the variable name that we know. In this case, it is the mole fraction of acetone leaving the column in the gas outlet stream. In our example we will arbitrarily call this variable CONC. On the next line, enter the target value of the variable, and finally set the tolerance. Click the button. The screen for the manipulated variable will appear next. For the manipulated variable type, choose Block-Var (the variable that we are manipulating is a block variable). Fill in the block name and the variable name. In the area labeled ID1 enter the number one. This refers to the column number. In the area labeled ID2, enter the number one. This refers to the starting segment number. Choose values for the lower and upper manipulated variable limits. For our example, we will use a packing height between 1 and 10 meters. Click the button. A list of manipulated variables can be accessed by clicking on the down button to the left of the variable blank. Short descriptions of the variable abbreviations are given as each of the variable names is highlighted. Whenever you are unsure what information you are supposed to enter, highlight that area and refer to the dialogue box. It may contain a description of the data.

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All required input has now been entered and the simulation can be run. The results screen are shown below. Mole fraction values for the gas outlet and liquid outlet stream closely match the values that we were trying to obtain in the problem statement.

The value of packing height that satisfied our design conditions was 1.94 meters. This value is equal to the 1.94 meters calculated by reference one.

REFERENCES 1. Geankopolis, C.J. Transport Processes and Unit Operations. 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1993. 2. Help pages. AspenPlus Software.

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Example Input Summary File: ;Input Summary created by ASPEN PLUS Rel. 10.0-1 at 13:38:59 Tue Mar 7, 2000 ;Directory C:\My Documents\ASPEN-INTEGRATED\Absorbers Filename C:\My Documents\ASPEN-INTEGRATED\Absorbers\absorberdesign.inp ; TITLE 'Absorption of Acetone in a Packed Tower' IN-UNITS MET DEF-STREAMS CONVEN ALL DATABANKS PURE10 / AQUEOUS / SOLIDS / INORGANIC / & NOASPENPCD PROP-SOURCES PURE10 / AQUEOUS / SOLIDS / INORGANIC COMPONENTS ACETONE C3H6O-1 ACETONE / WATER H2O WATER / AIR AIR AIR FLOWSHEET BLOCK ABSORBER IN=LIQ-IN GAS-IN OUT=GAS-OUT LIQ-OUT PROPERTIES NRTL PROP-DATA NRTL-1 IN-UNITS MET PROP-LIST NRTL BPVAL ACETONE WATER 6.398100000 -1808.991000 .3000000000 & 0.0 0.0 0.0 293.1500000 368.2500000 BPVAL WATER ACETONE .0544000000 419.9716000 .3000000000 0.0 & 0.0 0.0 293.1500000 368.2500000 STREAM GAS-IN SUBSTREAM MIXED TEMP=293. <K> PRES=1. MOLE-FLOW=14.014 MOLE-FRAC ACETONE 0.026 / WATER 0. / AIR 0.974 STREAM LIQ-IN SUBSTREAM MIXED TEMP=293. <K> PRES=1. MOLE-FLOW=45.36 MOLE-FRAC WATER 1.

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BLOCK ABSORBER RATEFRAC PARAM NCOL=1 TOT-SEGMENT=10 COL-CONFIG 1 10 CONDENSER=NO REBOILER=NO PACK-SPECS 1 1 10 HTPACK=1. <meter> PACK-ARRANGE=RANDOM & PACK-TYPE=RASCHIG PACK-MAT=CERAMIC PACK-DIM="1.5-IN" & PACK-SIZE=.0381000 SPAREA=1.213900 PACK-FACTOR=3.116760 & PACK-TENSION=61.00000 DIAM-EST=1. <meter> BASE-SEGMENT=10 & VOID-FRACTIO=0.73 FEEDS LIQ-IN 1 1 / GAS-IN 1 11 PRODUCTS LIQ-OUT 1 10 L / GAS-OUT 1 1 V P-SPEC 1 1 1. COL-SPECS 1 MOLE-RDV=1.0 Q1=0.0 QN=0.0 DESIGN-SPEC DS-1 DEFINE CONC MOLE-FRAC STREAM=GAS-OUT SUBSTREAM=MIXED & COMPONENT=ACETONE SPEC "CONC" TO "0.005" TOL-SPEC ".001" VARY BLOCK-VAR BLOCK=ABSORBER VARIABLE=HTPACK & SENTENCE=PACK-SPECS ID1=1 ID2=1 LIMITS "1" "10" STREAM-REPOR MOLEFLOW MOLEFRAC ; ; ; ; ;

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GAS-OUT LIQ-IN

ABSORBER

GAS-IN LIQ-OUT
Absorption of Acetone in a Packed Tower GAS-IN GAS-OUT LIQ-IN ABSORBER ABSORBER ABSORBER VAPOR VAPOR LIQUID KMOL/HR .3643640 0.0 13.64964 .0260000 0.0 .9740000 14.01400 416.3316 5615.509 293.0000 1.000000 1.000000 0.0 0.0 -1376.595 -46.33711 -5358.779 -1.227476 -.0413176 4.15931E-5 1.23566E-3 29.70827 7.937254 .0761541 .3171725 13.59127 5.44557E-3 .0226801 .9718743 13.98460 403.6166 5611.735 293.4187 1.000000 1.000000 0.0 0.0 -1623.627 -56.25579 -6307.159 -.3513392 -.0121732 4.15338E-5 1.19873E-3 28.86151 7.645211 0.0 45.36000 0.0 0.0 1.000000 0.0 45.36000 817.1731 13.64048 293.0000 1.000000 0.0 1.000000 0.0 -68319.40 -3792.303 -8.6082E+5 -39.14193 -2.172707 .0554232 .9984660 18.01528 13.64580 .2882099 45.04283 .0583660 6.34972E-3 .9923644 1.28590E-3 45.38940 829.8881 13.92747 292.2765 1.000000 0.0 1.000000 0.0 -68199.92 -3730.086 -8.5988E+5 -39.35059 -2.152218 .0543163 .9931067 18.28374 13.93784

Stream ID From To Phase Substream: MIXED Mole Flow ACETONE WATER AIR Mole Frac ACETONE WATER AIR Total Flow Total Flow Total Flow Temperature Pressure Vapor Frac Liquid Frac Solid Frac Enthalpy Enthalpy Enthalpy Entropy Entropy Density Density Average MW Liq Vol 60F

LIQ-OUT ABSORBER LIQUID

KMOL/HR KG/HR L/MIN K ATM

CAL/MOL CAL/GM CAL/SEC CAL/MOL-K CAL/GM-K MOL/CC GM/CC L/MIN