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Keywords:

  • distillation;
  • multicomponent distillation;
  • dividing wall column;
  • thermal coupling;
  • fully thermally coupled column;
  • Petlyuk column;
  • minimum energy;
  • operability

We propose new dividing wall columns (DWCs) that are equivalent to the fully thermally coupled (FTC) configurations. While our method can draw such configurations for any given n-component mixture (n ≥ 3), we discuss in detail the DWCs for ternary and quaternary feed mixtures. A special feature of all the new DWCs is that during operation, they allow independent control of the vapor flow rate in each partitioned zone of the DWC by means that are external to the column. Because of this feature, we believe that the new arrangements presented in this work will enable the FTC configuration to be successfully implemented and optimally operated as a DWC in an industrial setting for any number of components. Also, interesting column arrangements result when a new DWC drawn for an n-component mixture is adapted for the distillation of a mixture containing more than n components. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 2949–2961, 2014