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Dynamics and Control of Distillation Columns - A Critical Survey
S. Skogestad

(Invited plenary lecture). Preprints IFAC-symposium DYCORD+'92, 1-25, Maryland, Apr. 27-29, 1992 (Reprinted in 1997 in MIC).

Distillation column dynamics and control has been viewed by many as a very mature or even dead field. However, as is discussed in this paper significant new results have appeared over the last 5-10 years. These results include multiple steady states and instability in simple columns with ideal thermodynamics (which was believed to be impossible), the understanding of the difference between various control configurations and the systematic transformation between these, the feasibility of using the distillate-bottom structure for control (which was believed to be impossible), the importance of flow dynamics for control studies, the fundamental problems in identifying models from open-loops responses, the use of simple regression estimators to estimate composition from temperatures, and an improved general understanding of the dynamic behavior of distillation columns which includes a better understanding of the fundamental difference between internal and external flow, simple formulas for estimating the dominant time constant, and a derivation of the linearizing effect of logarithmic transformations. These issues apply to all columns, even for ideal mixtures and simple columns with only two products. In addition, there have been significant advances for cases with complex thermodynamics and complex column configurations. These include the behavior and control of azeotropic distillation columns, and the possible complex dynamics of nonideal mixtures and of interlinked columns. However, both for the simple and more complex cases there are still a number of areas where further research is needed.