Space-constrained purification of dimethyl ether through process intensification using semicontinuous dividing wall columns
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In this work, a distillation system is designed to purify dimethyl ether (DME) from its reaction by-products in the conversion of flare gas into a useful energy product. The distillation equipment has a size constraint for easy transportation, making process intensification the best strategy to efficiently separate the mixture. The process intensification distillation techniques explored include the dividing wall column (DWC) and a novel semicontinuous dividing wall column (S-DWC). The DWC and the S-DWC both purify DME to fuel grade purity along with producing high purity waste streams. An economic comparison is made between the two systems. The DWC is a cheaper method of producing DME however the purity of methanol, a reaction intermediate, is not as high as the S-DWC. Overall, this research shows that it is possible to purify DME and its reaction by-products in a 40-foot distillation column at a cost that is competitive with Diesel.
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