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As the first stage in a long term process control and optimization study, a fourteen stage extractive distillation column was re-designed, re-built, and evaluated. Under the operating conditions studied, the overall column efficiency was found to be approximately 60%. Recommendations for design modifications to improve column capacity and operation were presented.

A control computer was interfaced to the process and a computer monitor/control software package was developed. The computer was found to be very useful as an aid to the manual operation of the extractive distillation column. The next stages in this study will involve the continuous computer control of solvent and feed stream flowrates and temperatures, and reboiler liquid level. The executive program and parameter change routine developed during this project were designed to be very flexible in format so that as more programs are written for the next stages of this study, they may be easily added to the existing software package.

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