Optimization of Structured Packings for Thermal Separation Columns

In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lowering the overall energy demand in the chemical industry by increasing energy efficiency is crucial. This is especially true for energy-intensive thermal separation processes such as distillation and absorption, which play an important role in the chemical industry. Structured packings are often used as internals and have a significant impact on the efficiency of separation columns. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop novel structured packings using optimization methods to reduce the energy demand of thermal separation processes.

Packing development consists of packing design and performance characterization. In packing design, various mathematical optimization methods are used to generate novel structured packings. Performance parameters are defined as objective functions to be optimized. The optimization algorithms are coupled with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, which enable the evaluation of the objective function. Particularly promising packings are investigated in terms of various performance parameters using simulative and experimental methods. For the fabrication of the structured packings for the experiments, additive manufacturing (AM, also known as "3D printing") is used as a key technology, which is characterized by a high design freedom.