Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering - (M.S.)


Chemical Engineering and Chemistry

First Advisor

L. Bryce Anderson

Second Advisor

George C. Keeffe

Third Advisor

John E. McCormick


The object of this work was to study the effect of packed column diameter on the fractionation efficiency so that a more reliable engineering approach could be employed in the scaling up of fractionating columns.

The height equivalent to a theoretical plate (HETP) was employed to compare column efficiencies in this study. The HETP was calculated for several gas mass velocities through columns of one-inch, two-inch and three-inch diameter, packed with one-quarter inch Berl saddles. All data were collected at total reflux conditions employing the standard n-heptane-methylcyclohexane binary.

The results indicated that the efficiencies of the one-inch and two-inch diameter columns were essentially equal and constant throughout the entire range of gas mass velocities studied. However, the efficiency of the three-inch diameter column was approximately 35% that of the smaller diameter columns at low gas mass velocities and increased to a maximum near the flood point where the efficiencies of all three columns were essentially identical.

It is concluded that the use of larger diameter columns results in substantially lower efficiencies at low gas mass velocities, but the effect of column diameter on the efficiency of packed fractionating towers at gas mass velocities near the flood point is negligible.



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