Every distillation pilot test involves a setup customized for the application at hand. Varying configurations are available for flashing, steam stripping, vacuum, azeotropic, multi-component and non-ideal processes. Column internals can be either trays or packing. Flanged column sections are used to provide maximum flexibility for arrangement of internals. Both stainless steel and glass sections can be used. Provisions can be made for multiple feed point locations, as well as vapor or liquid sidedraw.
Reboilers can be kettle, thermosiphon, forced circulation or falling film, heated by steam, hot oils, or electricity. Alternatively, direct steam addition can be utilized.
Operating pressures from 30 PSIG to 1 mmHg absolute are possible. Heat loss is minimized by means of heat tracing and insulation.
The pilot column is run over a range of operating conditions to measure separation performance and help determine optimum conditions. Other observations, such as operating stability, foaming, fouling, or thermal degradation, are also made and recorded. This type of data and information is extremely important for process scale-up.