For the simulation of steady- and non-steady-state behaiour of separation columns, a simulation program was developed and employed for the calculation and optimization of methanol-water separation. The demand for increasingly higher purities and energy-saving optimization of plants results in complex column configurations and thus in complex control schemes. The number of possible control schemes was reduced on the basis of heuristic rules. By simulating the process, the optimum control and manipulative variables and measuring points were determined from the reduced number of control concepts. A control scheme was introduced. The model was verified by simulation of the dynamic behaviour of the process. The investigation included the effects of computing technique, time interval, model reduction and tray hold-up on the results. Thus, various effects and interactions were verified theoretically with respect to the robustness of the model. This was followed by a simulation of the non-ontrolled and controlled column. By implementing the controllers in the existing column program, the computer can predict the control parameters. These parameters were checked and corrected when the metahnol-ater column was put in operation. In the start-up phase, major problems were caused by the sensitivity and failure rate of density, throughput and pump measuring sensors. Feed impurities were another source of problems. Operation with high product purities is possible, with a side stream to discharge impurities.