What is Reflux, Reflux Ratio, and Optimum Reflux Ratio?

The liquid which can be obtained by condensing the overhead vapour and returning some of the liquid to the top of the column is known as reflux

Reflux Ratio of Distillation

The reflux ratio of the reflux and overhead product is known as the reflux ratio it is denoted by Rd. The total reflux operation is necessary only to know the minimum number of plates required and is not a practical method of operation as total reflux the product rate is zero.

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A column operation under total reflux is in fig. In this case, enough material is charged to the distillation assembly and the column is operated under total reflux. During the operation of the column, the vapour issuing from the top is condensed and all the condensed steam is feedback to the column as reflux. 

Reflux Ratio Formula

The reflux ratio (Rd) is mathematically expressed as the ratio of the liquid returned (L) to the vapor taken off (D)

Rd = D÷L

Where:

Rd is the reflux ratio.

L is the liquid returned to the column.

D is the vapor taken off the column (distillate).

Reflux Ratio Advantage and Disadvantage

(i) When reflux ratio maximum meaning to say Rd ~=1.50 total reflux the number of plate minimum and so the overhead are zero for many still of finite size for minimum reflux overhead product is less. 

(ii) When the reflux ratio is maximum the fixed cost is low because of less number of plates. 

(iii) For maximum reflux ratio the operating cost is high. 

(iv) For reflux ratio minimum to the number of plates is infinities. 

(iv) For the minimum reflux ratio the operating costs are low. 

(v) For minimum reflux ratio fixed cast is high due to the infinite no of plates. 

Reflux Ratio

Effect of Reflux Ratio on Distillation

Effect on Purity

A higher reflux ratio leads to a higher purity distillate, as it provides more opportunities for the vapor and liquid phases to contact each other and exchange components. This is because the fluid returned to the column is enriched with more volatile components, which are then vaporized and carried to the column.

Effect on number of stages

Higher reflux ratio also leads to less number of stages required to achieve the desired separation. This is because higher reflux rates provide more phases with higher degrees of separation.

Other influences

In addition to the purity and number of stages, the reflux ratio is also affected by other factors such as energy consumption and the diameter of the distillation column. Higher reflux ratios result in more energy consumption, as more heat is required to vaporize the liquid reflux. This also leads to a larger diameter column, as more stages are required.

Minimum Reflux Ratio of Distillation

This represents a condition of minimum reflux. Thus the minimum reflux ratio is that reflux ratio at which an infinite number of plates are required for the desired separation. At the minimum reflux ratio, the required heat supply for the reboiler and coolant supply for the condenser is minimum. 

Reflux Ratio Formula 

These are many effects of reflux ratio and distillation. 

Rd = Reflux / Overhead product

Rd = L/D = V-D/ D

In other words, reflux is the ratio of the reflux to the vapour

Rw = L/V = L /L + D

Optimum Reflux Ratio in  Distillation Column 

Any reflux ratio between an infinite reflux ratio requiring a minimum number of plates and a minimum reflux ratio requiring an infinite number of plates is a workable system which requires finite stages for the desired degree of separation. At minimum reflux ratio as an infinite number of plates are required, the fixed cost is also infinite while the cost of heat supply to the reboiler and condenser coolant is minimum.

Optimum Reflux Ratio for Distillation

As the reflux ratio is increased, the number of plates decreases and the fixed cost decrease at first passes through a minimum and then increases as with higher reflux ratio the diameter of the column and sizes of reboiler and condenser increase. 

Read Also

Definition and Detailed Explanation of Azeotropic Distillation 

Steam Distillation process 


Definition and Detailed Explanation of Azeotropic Distillation


The methods of distillation a binary systems

Relation between reflux ratio and number of stages for distillation

The operating costs increase continuously with the reflux ratio as it is directly proportional to (R+1). At total reflux though the number of plates is minimum the cost of heat supply to reboiler and condenser coolant is maximum and also large capacity reboiler and condenser are needed. 

The total cost which is the sum of the fixed cost and the operating cost also decreases to a minimum and then increases with the reflux ratio. The optimum reflux ratio occurs at a point where the sum of the fixed cost and operating cost is minimum. As a rough approximation, the optimum reflux ratio usually lies in the range of 1.1 to 1.5 times the minimum reflux ratio

What does high reflux ratio mean?

higher reflux ratios usually mean higher purity of the distillate.

How do you calculate min reflux ratio?

These are many effects of reflux ratio and distillation. Rd = Reflux / Overhead product Rd = L/D = V-D/ D In other words, reflux is the ratio of the reflux to the vapour Rw = L/V = L /L + D.

What should be the reflux ratio?

As a rough approximation, the optimum reflux ratio usually lies in the range of 1.1 to 1.5 times the minimum reflux ratio.

Why is my reflux ratio negative?

Your feed composition is GREATER Than the distillate purity, a negative minimum reflux ratio.

BANTI SINGH

Hi I'm Banti Singh, a Chemical Engineer! Welcome all of you to my blog. If you got the information right? Share the information. All of you Thank you

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