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DISTILLATION CONTROL


Dr. Prakash Karpe
Control & Elec. Eng. Supt.
ConocoPhillips
San Francisco Refinery, Rodeo



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D
B
L
R = L/D
F
Distillation Column Control
Control Objectives

V
Rectification
Stages
Stripping
Stages
Q
H
Q
c





Two Control objectives
Inventory control
Composition control



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Degrees of Freedom Analysis
From control perspective, degrees of
freedom of a process is defined as
number of variables that can or must
be controlled.
Helps to avoid over- or under-control of
processes.
Degrees of freedom (to control) = No.
of rationally placed control valves
A control valve represents a
manipulated variable (MV)




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Degrees of Freedom Analysis
Flash Vessel (Separator)
V
B
F
F,T,P,x
i

Disturbances
5
Inventory Control
For steady state operation of a
process, all inventories must be
controlled
Vapor inventories are maintained by
pressure control
Liquid inventories are maintained by
level control
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Degrees of Freedom Analysis
Flash Vessel (Separator)
V
B
F
F,T,P,x
i

Disturbances
LC
PC
Degrees of Freedom = 0
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F
LC
D
B
L
V
Q
H
PC
Degrees of Freedom Analysis
Typical Distillation Column
Inventory Control
Degrees of Freedom = 3
L
D
L
B
T
D
T
B
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Liquid Inventory Control
Level Control
Reflux drum level control
L
D
- L or L
D
D?


Richardsons rule:
Use the largest stream to control level.
Guidelines:
L/D < = 1 : Use L
D
D pairing
L/D > = 5 : Use L
D
L pairing
For 1 < L/D < 5, use scheme proposed
by Rysjkamp
(L+D) D and L/D L pairings


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Two Common Level Control Schemes
Level control dilemma
Tight flow control?
Oscillating level

Tight level control?
Oscillating product flow

Averaging or nonlinear level control

Tight level control


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Common Level Control Schemes
Averaging (nonlinear) level control
Used when product is a feed to a
downstream process
Examples
Train of lightends columns
Reflux drum level control
Tight level control
Used when product goes to tankage or a
surge drum or process requires low hold
up
Use P-only controller with K
C
= 4
Examples
Reboiler level control
FCC Main Frac and Vacuum
column bottoms (coking concern)
Dirty wash oil draw level control
Control hydrostatic P in the
draw line


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Common Problems
If off gas is routed to a compressor,
reflux drum P is controlled leading to
tower P swings.
Vapor Inventory Control
Common Pressure Control Schemes
Partial Condensers
Off gas rate > 0
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Common Pressure Control Schemes
Partial Condensers
Common Problems
If off gas is routed to a compressor, reflux
drum P is controlled leading to tower P
swings.
Inert gas, typically noncondesables, can
cause downstream process problems
Off gas rate > 0 or = 0
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Common Pressure Control Schemes
Total Condensers
Flooded Condenser
Off gas rate = 0
Common Problems
If P equalizing line is not used, P in the
reflux drum swings.
If condensed liquid is introduced into the
drum from top w/o dip leg, vapor in the drum
can collapse.
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Off gas rate = 0
Common Pressure Control Schemes
Total Condensers
Hot Vapor Bypass
Common Problems
Bypass line inadequately sized
If drum top surface is not insulated, P can
swing with ambient changes. The effect is
less pronounced for high P columns.
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F
LC
D
B
L
V
Q
H
PC
Degrees of Freedom Analysis
Typical Distillation Column
Composition Control
Degrees of Freedom = 3
L
D
L
B
T
D
T
B
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Composition Control Problem
Number of MVs = 3
Reflux flow: L
Distillate flow: D
Reboiler heat: Q
H
Reflux ratio
Product/ feed ratio
Steam/ feed ratio
Need three controlled variables
(CVs)
Possible CVs
Reflux drum level: L
D
Distillate composition: x
D

Appropriate temperature in rectification
section (T
D
)
Bottoms composition: x
B

Appropriate temperature in stripping
section (T
B
)
Control problem
How do we pair CVs and MVs?

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Composition Control
Fundamental manipulated variables
Feed split or cutpoint variable
Fraction of the feed that is taken
overhead of out of the bottom
Increasing distillate flow will
increase bottom purity and
decrease distillate purity, etc.
Fractionation variable
Energy that is put into the column to
achieve separation
Increasing the reflux ratio or the
reboiler duty will increase both
distillate and bottoms purity
Feed split has more pronounced impact
on product purity than fractionation
variable (exception low purity, < 90%,
products)
It is almost impossible to control any
composition in the column if the feed
split is fixed.
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Manipulation of Fundamental Variables
for Composition Control
Fractionation Variables
L/D
Q
H
/ F (steam to feed ratio)
L/F
High purity columns or dual product
purity columns
DeC3s, DeC4s, DIBs, etc.
Feed Split Variables
D or B flow (direct control scheme)
FCC Main Fracs, Crude and Vacuum
column side cuts
L or Q
H
(indirect control scheme)
Level adjusts the product flow
indirectly
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Controlled Variables for
Composition Control
Stage temperature (Inferential control)
Useless for a
ij
< 1.2
Online analyzer
High economic gains
a
ij
< 1.2

Temperature control Special cases
Difficult separations ( 1.2 < a
ij
< 1.5)
Flat temperature profiles
Use differential temperatures ( DT =
T
m
T
k
) between stages for control
Example HVGO quality control
Extremely easy separations (high a
ij
)
Nonlinear in nature
Steep temperature profile
Use temperature profile control
T
avg
= (T
k
+ T
m
)/ 2 , etc.
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Locate TI on the stage whose
temperature shows maximum sensitivity
to one of the available MVs
From simulation calculate (dT
i
/ dD)
L,B
,
(dT
i
/ dL)
D,B
,

(dT
i
/ dB)
L,D
and

(dT
i
/ dQ)
L,D
where T
i
is the temperature
of stage i. Locate TI at the stage
where (dT
i
/ dD)
L,B
, etc., is maximum.
For calculating the derivatives,
vary B, D, L and Q in the column
specs only by small amount, e.g.,
by +0.5% and -0.5%. Calculate
average derivative.
Scale each variable by dividing it
by its span in order to calculate the
derivatives. The derivative will be a
dimensionless number.
Use high precision numbers
Composition Control
Temperature Sensor Location
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Optimum Temperature Sensor
Location
Most common Mistake!
TC
22
Optimum TI Location for Columns with
Side Draws
Locate the TI in the vapor space one two
stages below the product draw for product
EP control
This temperature (P-compensated)
correlates well with the product EP
Example
Atmos column diesel 95% pt control


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D
L
F
TI
TI Location for Side Draw
TC
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Special Cases
Draw Tray Control
Total Draw Tray
Control tray level by product draw
Control pumpback on flow control
Control p/a on flow control p/a duty as
CV
In fuel vacuum columns maximize
duty
LC
FC
LT
FC
25
Partial Draw Tray
Level on the tray is fixed by the outlet
weir height. There is no level control
FC
FC
LT
FC
Special Cases
Draw Tray Control
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Special Cases
Stripping Steam Flow
Bottom stripping steam
Maximize to 8 12 lb stm per bbl of
product
Fixed flow control

Side stripping steam
Minimize to meat front end spec
Use steam/ product ratio control
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Distillation Control

Case Study:
Deisobutanizer Control
Joyce Kaumeyer
Sr. Consulting Engineer
Prakash Karpe
Control & Elec. Eng. Supt.

ConocoPhillips
San Francisco Refinery, Rodeo
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Deisobutanizer
Fuel Gas
IC4
Tray 13
PIC
PIC
FI
IC4
FIC
RFLX
TI
OVHD
TI
13
A
B
SW
LIC
IC4
SS
AI
IC4
Low Level
Override
Tray 1
Tray 45 TIC
45
LIC
COND
Partially
Flooded
Condenser
Steam
PIC
STM
Condensate
FI
STM
Partially
Flooded
Reboiler
Flooded
Accumulator
AI
NC4
NC4
LIC
NC4
FIC
NC4
Tray 25
Tray 37
Tray 60
Feed 1
Feed 2
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Tower Operation
Tower Pressure Control
By Overhead Product Rate
Tower Temperature Control
Tray 45 By Condensate Level (Steam)
Composition Control
Operator Adjusts Reflux Rate Based on
Lab / On-line Analyzer
Tower Feed from Various Upstream
Units
Large Rate Swings
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Deisobutanizer
Control Objectives
Control IC4 Product, IC4
Concentration
Reduce Variability & Control Closer to
Specification
Improve Tower Pressure Control
Reflux / Product Rate = 5 / 1
Change Existing Temperature /
Composition Control
Reduce NC4 Product, IC4
Concentration

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Deisobutanizer
Modified Controls
Fuel Gas
IC4 Tray 13
PIC
PIC
FIC
IC4
FIC
RFLX
TI
OVHD
TI
13
A
B
SW
LIC
IC4
SS
AI
IC4
Low Level
Override
Tray 1
Tray 45 TI
45
LIC
COND
Partially
Flooded
Condenser
Steam
PIC
STM
Condensate
FI
STM
Partially
Flooded
Reboiler
Flooded
Accumulator
AI
NC4
NC4
LIC
NC4
FIC
NC4
TDIC
OVHD
UIC
BTU
Tray 25
Tray 37
Tray 60
Feed 1
Feed 2
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90.0
92.0
94.0
96.0
98.0
100.0
%
Analyzer IC4 DT Predicted IC4
IC4 Product
On-line Analyzer Vs. Delta Temperature Correlation

33
IC4 Product
IC4 / Delta Temperature
Correlation
%IC4 = 100.3 1.4464 * (Delta T)

Process Dynamics
Deadtime: 19 minutes
Lagtime: 102 minutes
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Modified Tower Operation
Tower Pressure Control
By Reflux Rate
Tower Heat Input Control
By Condensate Level (Steam)
Composition Control
Operator Adjusts TDIC Setpoint Based
on Lab / On-line Analyzer
Tower Feed from Various Upstream
Units
Large Rate Swings
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Tower Pressure Control
Before and After
Before After
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IC4 Product
%IC4
IC4 Product
88.0
90.0
92.0
94.0
96.0
98.0
100.0
IC4
Start New Control
Steam Increase
High Pentanes
37
NC4 Product
%IC4
Isobutane Giveaway in n-Butane
0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
Start New Control Operator Training Initial Implementation phase
%
38
Future
ARC
Add AIC Cascaded to TDIC
Requires improved analyzer
performance
Add Heat Input Feed-Forward to AIC
-OR-
DMC
Requires improved analyzer
performance
Hold for DCS platform conversion to
Refinery Standard