A new class of control structures for heterogeneous reactive distillation processes

Mihai Daniel Moraru, Iulian Patrascu, Anton A. Kiss, Costin Sorin Bildea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are only a handful of process control structures applied to the neat operation of both homogeneous and heterogeneous reactive distillation, for two-reactants / two-products one-reaction systems. All of these control structures employ inferential temperature control (or concentration analyzers) at some location in the column to balance the reaction stoichiometry. This original study proposes a new class of control structures applicable to heterogeneous reactive distillation. The novel idea, common to all control structures, is based on monitoring the inventory of the reactant involved in the heterogeneous azeotrope. The organic reflux (or the organic reflux / aqueous distillate ratio) is used to detect the excess or deficiency of the reactant, based on which the fresh feed rate is adjusted such that the reaction stoichiometry is balanced. This control philosophy is simple and easy to implement in different ways as illustrated by several case studies. The performance of the proposed control structures depends on the system studied. For some systems, the performance is better, as good or nearly as good as that of the literature control structures. But for other systems, the performance is poor or the structure even fails to control the process, due to the insufficient feedback from inventory measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108672
JournalChemical Engineering and Processing - Process Intensification
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Case studies
  • Esterification
  • Process control
  • Reactive distillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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