“The Masters of the Columns” was our title three years ago, when PROCESS visited the firm Iludest/i-Fischer and subsequently outlined their work. Now these masters are once again attracting attention by presenting a new phase equilibrium device.
In the training of process engineers, the determination of phase equilibria, and thus the calculation of separation stages for distillation, is part of the advanced subject matter, and many such students will certainly have worked with phase equilibrium equipment by i-Fischer/Iludest. Not only are universities and laboratories counted among the customers of the duo from Waldbüttelbrunn near Wuerzburg/Germany — a team that has dedicated itself to the planning of distillation equipment — but chemicals and petrochemicals firms also like to rely, in the tailoring of their separation plants for solvents or mineral oil fractions, on these Franconian specialists.
Their recipe for success is exceptional flexibility — whether 200 litres per hour or 1000 litres per day, neither is a problem for these process engineers. “We plan each installation individually according to the customer’s specifications,” explains Stefan Opis, CEO of Iludest and i-Fischer.
Beside these special constructions, they also have a range of equipment for process technology laboratories. For, unfortunately — or, as far as the duo from Waldbüttelbrunn are concerned, fortunately — the calculatory skills of the thermodynamicists are not always up to the task of working out phase equilibria for all liquid mixtures. But anyone wishing to plan a distillation column needs reliable data for a phase diagram on the basis of which the theoretical number of separation trays can be deduced.
“There is of course data in the literature, but usually precisely the pressure/temperature/concentration combination that the process engineer needs for the planning of his column is missing.” Dr. H. E. Koenen, CEO of i-Fischer, is speaking from experience, for he has joint responsibility for the planning of customers’ installations. As new separation tasks are constantly emerging, phase diagram data continues to be obtained experimentally, since thermodynamic parameters are either not present at all or only insufficiently.
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