Revamping Dimethyl Ether Separation to a Single-Step Process

Authors

  • A. A. Kiss,

    Corresponding author
    1. AkzoNobel Research, Development & Innovation, Process Technology ECG, Deventer, The Netherlands
    • AkzoNobel Research, Development & Innovation, Process Technology ECG, Deventer, The Netherlands
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  • R. M. Ignat

    1. AkzoNobel Research, Development & Innovation, Process Technology ECG, Deventer, The Netherlands
    2. University Politehnica of Bucharest, Department of Chemical Engineering, Bucharest, Romania
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Abstract

Process intensification techniques were recently proposed to improve the eco-efficiency of the conventional dimethyl ether (DME) purification and methanol recovery distillation sequence, but they all require new specific equipment and hence rather high investment costs leading to several years of payback time. However, the alternative of reusing the existing equipment to revamp the two distillation columns of the downstream processing section into a single-step separation was so far overlooked in the open literature. To solve the problem of costly DME separation, a novel single-step DME separation taking place in a dividing-wall column (DWC) is proposed that effectively integrates in one shell the tasks of DME purification and methanol recovery. The new process is optimized in terms of minimal energy requirements, taking into account the restrictions caused by reusing one distillation column like, such as limited diameter or reboiler/condenser heat duty. The results demonstrate that the DWC alternative is feasible and has better performances as compared to the classic sequence, i.e., 28 % lower operating costs and 20 % less capital investment.

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