Troubleshooting Common Distillation Issues

Distillation equipment is one of the cornerstones of chemical processing industries, often serving as part of an integrated process system and must operate under optimal and stable conditions to produce on-spec products. Unfortunately, mechanical or operating problems within a column may lead to significant product loss and costly downtime.

Solvent distillation units may begin performing poorly due to various reasons. A build-up of sludge in the distillation vessel reduces capacity, increases energy costs, and decreases efficiency in its column. Another common issue is when its column stops recycling its vapor instead of disposing it to waste, leading to extra disposal expenses as well as more virgin solvent being required.

Avoiding most issues requires some simple measures, primarily keeping equipment clean through regular maintenance schedules and proper calibration of thermometers. Anti-fouling trays, grid packing or valves may also help if fouling issues exist at your plant. In addition, online diagnostic services offer real-time information on how packed distillation towers operate hydraulically – one such service called Gamma Scan allows users to measure density profiles within operational columns.