Nonlinear model based control of two-product reactive distillation column


Nonlinear feedback control scheme for reactive distillation column has been proposed. The proposed control scheme is derived in the framework of Nonlinear Internal Model Control. The product compositions and liquid and vapor flow rates in sections of the reactive distillation column are estimated from selected tray temperature measurements by an observer. The control scheme is applied to an example reactive distillation column in which two products are produced in a single column and the reversible reaction A+B=C+D occurs. The relative volatilities are favorable for reactive distillation so that the reactants are intermediate boilers between the light product C and the heavy product D. Ideal physical properties, kinetics, and vapor-liquid equilibrium are also assumed. It is shown that the proposed control scheme keeps tight product composition control.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.



reactant component


reactant component; bottoms flow rate [kmol/s]


product component


product component; distillate flow rate [kmol/s]

EB :

activation energy of the reverse reaction [cal/mol]

EF :

activation energy of forward reaction [cal/mol]


fresh feed flow rate of reactant A [kmol/s]


fresh feed flow rate of reactant B [kmol/s]

kF :

specific reaction rate of the forward reaction [kmol ·-1 · kmol-1]

kB :

specific reaction rate of the reverse reaction [kmol·s-1 · kmol-1]

Ln :

liquid flow rate from tray n [kmol/s]

Mn :

liquid holdup on tray n [kmol]

rs :

liquid flow rate in the stripping section

Vs :

vapor flow rate in the stripping section

rr :

liquid flow rate in the rectifying section

Vr :

vapor flow rate in the rectifying section


  1. Al-Arfaj, M. and Luyben, W. L., “Comparison of alternative control structures for an ideal two-product reactive distillation column,”Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.,39, 3298 (2000).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Balasubramhanya, L. S. and Doyle, F. J.,Nonlinear model-based control of a batch reactive distillation column, DYCOPS-5, Corfu, Greece, June 8–10 (1998).

  3. Barlett, D.A. and Wahnschafft, O.M.,Dynamic simulation and control strategy evaluation for MTBE reactive distillation, Paper presented at FOCAP (1999).

  4. Barolo, M. and Berto, F., “Composition control in batch distillation: binary and multicomponent mixtures,”Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.,37, 4689 (1998).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Bock, H., Wozny, G. and Gutche, B., “Design and control of a reaction distillation column including the recovery system,”Chem. Eng. Progress.,36, 101 (1997).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Guttinger, T. E. and Morari, M., “Predicting multiple steady states in equilibrium reactive distillation. 1. Analysis of nonhybrid systems,”Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.,38, 1633 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Kumar, A. and Daoutidis, P., “Dynamics and control of an ethyl acetate reactive distillation column,”AIChE J.,45, 51 (1999).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Lim, C. and Han, M., “Profile position control of reactive batch distillation column,”Journal of Control, Automation and Systems Engineering,7(3), 263 (2001).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Monroy-Loperena, R. and Alvarez-Ramirez, J., “Output-feedback control of reactive batch distillation columns,”Ind. Eng. Chem. Res.,39, 378 (2000).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Quintero-Marmol, E. and Luyben, W., “Inferential model-based control of multicomponent batch distillation,”Chem. Eng. Sci.,47, 4, 887 (1992).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Sneesby, M.G., Tade, M.O., Data, R. and Smith, T.N., “Detrimental influence of excessive fractionation on reactive distillation,”AIChE J.,44, 388 (1998).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Myungwan Han.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Han, M., Clough, D.E. Nonlinear model based control of two-product reactive distillation column. Korean J. Chem. Eng. 23, 540–546 (2006).

Download citation

Key words

  • Reactive Distillation
  • Nonlinear Internal Model Control
  • Dual Composition Control