Column Analysis: The Inside Story

Column Analysis: The Inside Story

Visualizing Hydraulic Behavior and its Effect on the Whole Process

June 14, 2018

We all want the inside story, and in fact, greater visibility into asset performance can help chemical and energy companies gain a competitive edge. Distillation columns are troublesome units, representing one of the biggest operational challenges in the process industry. Being able to see precisely what is happening to the behavior of trayed and packed columns means that process engineers can quickly get to the root cause of operational issues and make informed decisions that impact the entire operation.


Column specialists typically want to predict when a column has a high risk of not behaving well (i.e., flooding, weeping, pressure swings) and be able to quickly evaluate across the full range of design conditions, safety margins and normal operation levels. When capital is needed to debottleneck a process, engineers within engineering and construction companies are similarly focused on minimizing project capital expenditure by reusing existing equipment (i.e., shells, piping), investing in lower-cost adjacent equipment (like feed heaters and coolers) or replacing the column internals, as well as evaluating different internal configurations to find the most economical option.


New functionality within Aspen HYSYS® and Aspen Plus® allows engineers to optimize energy use in columns and pinpoint potential issues at the design stage or for revamp projects.




With enhanced hydraulic correlations, it’s possible to decrease assumptions and produce more accurate modelling. The use of interactive, visual graphics for tray geometry or packing inputs helps give greater detail on the hydraulic behavior of individual stages while providing a view of the performance of the whole column. The ability to evaluate changes in flowsheet inputs, as well as internals geometry on hydraulic performance, allows for better troubleshooting and design.


The key benefits of using Aspen Plus and Aspen HYSYS for column analysis include:


  • Quicker insights into column performance problems and behavior

  • Seeing the column as part of the larger process with an interactive solver for quick evaluations of multiple design options and operating cases

  • Evaluating interactivity between columns and other equipment before making operations/revamp decisions

  • Evaluating multiple revamp options to drive more informed discussion

  • Use of automated sizing capabilities and design templates to save time when designing a new column

  • Reduction of time and labor iterating between process data in Aspen Plus or Aspen HYSYS and column analysis with third-party tools

  • Greater visibility into asset performance, which provides the platform for better decision-making

Advanced process simulation offers engineers powerful chemical engineering capabilities for column analysis. Gaining insight into key processes enables faster problem-solving. With new column analysis capabilities, engineers can troubleshoot operational issues at the source and evaluate new and revamp options with an interactive tool, offering enhanced calculations and visualizations.



Learn more about this capability in our on-demand webinar. To learn about the three essential operations in a plant  that can boost efficiency and enhance plant performance, read this white paper.

There was a problem storing your subscription

Leave A Comment