The required task is therefore to determine if the column has potential to efficiently distillate within economic operation costs. While a five-step procedure is recommended for testing the facility, time is scarce and not all the steps can be implemented. The steps are. calculation of the theoretical capabilities of the distillation column in the lab, preparation of an accurate vapor liquid equilibrium diagram of water and ethanol, accounting for the energy usage of the distillation process, accounting for the final products ethanol concentration, and analysis of the costs and benefits of obtaining higher yields against higher purities. The time scarcity however dictates that only two of the steps are adopted in order to determine the column’s capacity.
My team would choose to prepare an accurate vapor liquid equilibrium diagram for water and ethanol, and to account for the final product’s ethanol concentration. The vapor liquid equilibrium would be preferred because of its theoretical basis that can be used in an experiment to test the facility’s efficiency and freedom from errors. This is because for any mixture of two fluids and across varying temperatures or pressures, there is an equation that determines corresponding mole ratios of mixture components in the vapor state given a temperature or pressure. A given volume of water and ethanol can then be used in the column and measurements taken at a given temperature and mole ratio determined. If the experimental values correspond to theoretical values, as determined by Raoult’s theory, then the column is approved to be operationally efficient. It is therefore an accurate measure of efficiency (Theodore, Ricci and Vanvliet, p. 233). Accounting for the final ethanol concentration is another efficient process for determining the operational efficiency of the distillation column.