Modelling and Control of an Integrated High Purity Methanol Distillation Configuration

Niels S. Halager, Christoph Bayer, Robert Kirkpatrick, Krist V. Gernaey, Jakob Kjøbsted Huusom*, Isuru A. Udugama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Process integration in distillation unit operations promises improved process efficiencies. However, to realize these benefits fit for purpose control structures are needed to ensure stable and on-specification operations. In practice, this requires the development of regulatory and advanced process controls accounting for nuances and intricacies of a given design and application. This manuscript focuses on developing a control structure for a novel industrial mass-integrated twin-column distillation configuration, where a multi-component crude methanol feed is refined into AA grade (ultra-high purity) methanol, while meeting many technical and economic requirements. To this end, a Digital Model (a dynamic process model) of the column configuration was developed and used to carry out a thorough dynamic analysis. Based on the understanding gained, a regulatory control layer was introduced to achieve stable operations. An advanced supervisory level control structure and a Model Predictive Control (MPC) structure were then developed and compared on the Digital model where both alternatives achieved on-specification (technical and economic) operations. It was illustrated that a well-designed control structure could achieve stable and on-specification control for this specific application. Further disturbance testing showed the MPC is marginal efficient than a supervisory control but has similar robustness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108640
JournalChemical Engineering and Processing
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • High purity distillation
  • Grade AA Methanol
  • Process simulation
  • Stabilizing control
  • Supervisory control


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