• Internal thermally coupled distillation column;
  • very high purity;
  • simplified nonlinear wave model;
  • generalized generic model control

A new model-based control strategy for the internal thermally coupled distillation column (ITCDIC) is presented. Based on the nonlinear wave theory that describes the nonlinear dynamics in the separation processes, a simplified nonlinear wave model is established that concerns both the wave propagation and the profile shape. An advanced controller (WGGMC) is formulated by combining the nonlinear wave model with a generalized generic model control (GGMC). Compared with a conventional generic model controller based on a data-driven model (TGMC), and another wave-model based generic model controller (WGMC) developed in our previous work, WGGMC exhibits the best performances in both servo control and regulatory control. Furthermore, WGGMC can handle a very-high-purity system of ITCDIC with top product composition of 0.99999, while the other two controllers fail to work. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 4133–4141, 2013