Keywords: distillation column, ecological protection standards, glycols, unsaturated polyester resins, reflux ratio, Mexico, energy use, environmental pollution, simulation
Influence of the reflux ratio in a distillation column in the unsaturated polyester resins process
The Mexican chemical industry is facing new standards of ecological protection regulated by SEMARNAP (Department of Social Development) and norms imposed by SE (Department of Energy) that require the industry to adjust their processes to use the minimum amount of energy. In particular, the industries that create polyester resins from glycols generate streams of polluted liquids, which are causing plant closures because their standards don't match the official standards. On the other hand, those industries that comply with the norms are unable to sell their products at a competitive price because they can't afford the cost of the technological developments. This paper focuses on the study of the distillation column operation that separates the glycol from the water used in the process. This technology as applied to the production has remained unchanged since 1955, but now the new standards are driving the search for new treatments. A simulation programme has been developed to study the sensitivity and dependency of the variables that govern the distillation column operation for the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins. Four cases that compare different schemes of column operation are described.