Evolutionary design of optimum distillation column sequence



Synthesis of the optimum distillation column sequence (DCS), which incorporates a huge search space composed of both conventional and complex arrangements, is a highly complicated combinatorial problem in the field of chemical process design and optimisation. In this study, a novel procedure for the synthesis of optimum DCS proposed by Boozarjomehry et al. [Boozarjomehry et al., Can. J. Chem. Eng. 87, 477–492 (2009)] is expanded to include the complex distillation arrangements. The method is based on evolutionary algorithms, and the total annual cost (TAC) is the main criterion used to screen alternatives. Efficient procedure has been proposed for encoding mechanism to include and classify various complex arrangements together with conventional distillation columns. All columns existing in each DCS alternative are designed using the most recommended short-cut methods to estimate the TAC of the DCS. Four standard benchmark case studies are carried out to clearly demonstrate the excellent performance of the proposed method. The produced results for these problems indicate that the proposed method outperforms the other existing approaches in terms of flexibility, accuracy and comprehensiveness. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering