Comparison of Multieffect Distillation and Extractive Distillation Systems for Corn-Based Ethanol Plants

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Virginia Tech


Recent publications on ethanol production and purification shows optimized energy and water consumptions as low as 22,000 Btu/gal ethanol and 1.54 gal water/gal ethanol respectively using multieffect distillation. Karuppiah, et al use column rating and mathematical optimization methods and shortcut design models to design evaluate and optimize the energy and water consumption. In this work, we compare shortcut design and rigorous simulation models for an ethanol purification distillation system, and we show that distillation systems based on shortcut design underestimate the true energy and water consumption of the distillation system. We then use ASPEN Plus, to design a multieffect distillation system and an extractive distillation system using rigorous simulation and compare the two for energy and water consumptions.

We show that the extractive distillation system has lower steam and cooling water consumptions and consequently lower energy and water consumptions than multieffect distillation in corn-to-ethanol production and purification. We also show that the extractive distillation system is cheaper than the multieffect distillation system on a cost per gal ethanol basis. This work gives an energy consumption of 29987 Btu/gal ethanol and water consumptions 2.82 gal/gal ethanol for the multieffect distillation system at a manufacturing cost of $3.03/gal ethanol. For the extractive distillation system, we calculate an energy consumption of 28199 Btu/gal ethanol and a water consumption of 2.79 gal/gal ethanol at a manufacturing cost of $2.88/gal ethanol.



Azeotrope, Heat Integration, Extractive Distillation, Multieffect Distillation