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Download July 13, 2009

Detailed Procedure for Adding Internal Streams: Column Reboilers

Since our recommendation to model a rigorous heat exchanger in a distillation column reboiler is to use an Internal Stream, we provide a detailed description to set it up:

1. After converging the column, go to the Internal Streams page on the Flowsheet tab of the Column Property View.



2. Select the “Add” button, then add the corresponding information:

Stream – Enter a name for the streamStage/Type – Enter the location you wish to take the stream from. For the feed to the reboiler, you will want the bottom tray liquid; for the feed to a condenser, you will want the top tray vapour.Net/Total – For bottom and top stage products you can usually select either option. “Net” represents the material flowing from the stage you have selected to the next stage; “Total” represents all of the material leaving the stage (such as draws, pumparounds, etc.)Export – By default, a copy of the stream is created in the column subflowsheet. To create another copy in the main flowsheet, check the Export box.

3. Run the column again, and find the newly created and solved stream in the main environment.

4. You can now create the heat exchanger, using the internal stream as the feed to the exchanger. We recommend adding a text box in the PFD indicating that there is an internal stream.


Internal Strm


5.        Finally, to ensure consistency with the column, you will need to either:

  • Copy the temperature of the bottoms stream from the column to the product (in this case, we have called the product stream “2-phase”).
  • Use a set operation to transfer the temperature. The advantage here is that as the column re-solves, the calculated temperature will also be transferred.


Final Comments

While this example explored the possibility of using a rigorous heat exchanger model for the reboiler, note that there are many other possibilities. For example, instead of a simple condenser, the overhead condensing circuit could be modeled with an air cooler, accumulator and pump.

We have provided our own preference here – but you may wish to further explore the other options. If you would like more information regarding the other options, feel free to contact us.


By James Holoboff, M.Sc., P. Eng.

James has over 25 years of experience in process engineering and emissions management for the chemical and petroleum industries. He brings a strong background in the development and application of computer simulation models to Oil & Gas industry challenges. James worked for Hyprotech/Aspentech for almost 10 years in various capacities including Global Technical Support Manager and Business Development Manager for the Project Services Division. He then spent 5 years providing process engineering and simulation consulting to a number of operating companies and engineering firms. James has been a Managing Partner for Process Ecology for 10+ years, during this time providing process engineering services, emissions reporting, project management, and software development support. James is a Chemical Engineering graduate from the University of Calgary and holds an MSc in Chemical Engineering from the same institution. In his spare time, when he’s not playing ice hockey or cycling, he is recovering from injuries incurred from those sports.

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