• distillation;
  • energy;
  • process synthesis;
  • thermodynamics/classical

The vapor recompression (VRC) distillation scheme is examined and compared with conventional distillation in an analysis spanning fundamental thermodynamics, high-level calculations, and rigorous simulation. The purpose of this article is three-fold: first, it provides greater insight into VRC distillation. Second, it provides a process synthesis tool to rapidly assess whether VRC is likely to be more thermodynamically favorable than conventional distillation for a given split. Third, it may be used to determine if VRC can be implemented practically. The tool presented in the article is consolidated in the form of a single chart, for which only the top and bottom product temperatures are required to determine the outcome. Using this chart, first-pass estimates can be obtained with no calculations whatsoever. The tool, which appears to be the first of its kind in this context, is validated with examples and rigorous simulation. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 2977–2992, 2013