Industrial Distillation Systems

The challenge of distillation system scale up requires experienced engineering and fabrication experts adept at understanding your process. This technology is often non-linear, and must be designed and implemented by qualified process engineers for:

    • Increased scale mechanical design
    • Sizing of the distillation columns
    • Selection of the proper equipment
    • Project management of process skid fabrication (to specification and tolerance)
    • Commissioning at production rates

Select Case Studies

Pilot Scale System Achieves 90% CO2 Sequestration


A modular distillation skid design allowed safe and timely off-site construction of a pilot-scale distillation system. The pilot plant is testing an experimental new technology for CO2 removal from power plant flue (or exhaust) gas. CO2 was removed from flue gas in a two-step distillation process. More…

Key Features: Modular skid weighing 39,000 lbs and standing 51 feet tall, dual packed distillation columns, DeltaV DCS, Class 1, Div 1

A Dual Skid Distillation System Provides Compact Solution


A two-part design was developed for an ethanol extraction system that needed to fit into a small space.  Overall project timeline shortened due to on-site upgrades and skid fabrication progressing in tandem. The finished “plug and play” skid was delivered as two separate framed pieces to the client site and successfully navigated to the installation spot. More..

Key Features: Two distillation columns, reflux loops, hot oil system, heat exchanger, hydrotesting, FEA analysis, vacuum pump system to lower required energy inputs.

Distillation column design

EPIC Systems combines the design, engineering, fabrication and integration to a single point of project responsibility. We are experienced in taking your distillation technology and applying our expertise in column sizing, mechanical design and process manufacturing.

Instrumentation, Controls and Fabrication

Our experienced control & mechanical engineering teams will design, manage and integrate the proper instrumentation and controls for each project. Our skilled manufacturing crew will utilize proven designs to fabricate and then test modular skids that will minimize installation time and condense space.

Equipment Integration & Project Flexibility

We understand that one size does not fit all, and our distillation systems can be integrated with any equipment or existing application. We have built a wide variety of reliable resources for the best equipment solution, regardless of vendor, and can work with you or other engineering and fabrication companies on any stage of your project.

We utilize our proprietary modular process technology to create your distillation columns faster, with the elimination of plant shut downs through the use of our parallel construction techniques

Advantages to modular design/build

Experienced Engineering Essential During the Design Phase

Integrating the proper distillation equipment and selecting the suitable distillation method should be carefully reviewed by professional engineers before building a full scale plant. Cost, chemical interactions and equipment needs change as larger output is required. Critical factors must be determined during the design phase, such as:

    • Boiling point elevation
    • Surface tension
    • Solubility
    • Maximum achievable concentration

EPIC specializes in taking your specifications and turning them into a complete system from concept to start up. We have a wide variety of experiences in Pilot Plant and Production Plant scale-up.

Distillation Process Types

EPIC has special expertise with multi-scale industrial distillation systems and plants. Our engineers have broad knowledge across different types of batch and continuous distillation including:

    • Vacuum distillation – This form of distillation relies on the basic principle that boiling occurs when vapor pressure exceeds ambient pressure for a liquid. The pressure above the liquid being distilled is reduced via vacuum to below its vapor pressure, causing it to boil and rise through the column. This may or may not require heating.
    • Fractional distillation – Distillation process where chemical components are separated into “fractions” based on their properties. The most common method is to heat the liquid to a specific temperature that causes several components to evaporate.
    • Azeotropic distillation – Distillation systems where an “entrainer” is added in order to break an azeotrope. The entrainer additive causes the other substances present to separate into immiscible liquids.
    • Steam distillation – Distillation system used for temperature sensitive materials or materials that begin eroding at sustained high temperatures. By adding water or steam to the distillation process, the boiling temperatures of the other substances are brought down, allowing lower temperatures to be used.
    • Extractive distillation – Type of distillation where a solvent is introduced to the mixture which changes the relative volatilities of the other substances, allowing them to be separated through normal distillation methods. This is used when two substances have a very similar boiling point.

These methods of distillation may be used individually or in tandem to achieve the desired result. For example, if a material is extremely sensitive to temperature, steam distillation may used along with vacuum distillation in one column to distill the mixture. Distillation may also be completed in sequential steps, utilizing several columns and multiple methods of distillation. EPIC works with you, based off your test data, to determine the best method of distillation for your product.

Advantages to Modular Distillation Systems

We will evaluate your project to see if you qualify for one of our efficient modular process skids. Our modular fabrication approach to process systems has many advantages, the main points of which are highlighted below. To learn specifically how modular fabrication achieves these benefits, please visit our Advantages of Modular Fabrication page.

    • Reduced cost
    • Higher quality construction
    • Faster time to market
    • Improved safety
    • Less resource requirements
    • Flexibility

A Design-Build Approach To Industrial Distillation Systems

EPIC Modular Process Systems will guide your industrial distillation project from initial concept to complete startup through all phases of:

Industrial distillation system design

    • Simulation software is used to iterate a proposed separation strategy
    • Mass and energy balances are calculated accurately
    • Physical plant design is completed using 3-D CAD software.

Equipment specification and procurement

    • Detailed P&IDs are developed for the industrial distillation system
    • Equipment and instrumentation is specified and compared across several vendors
    • Equipment is ordered in congruence with project timeline and equipment lead time

Process Automation

    • EPIC’s group of controls engineers design a robust and intuitive control system strategy to automate the system
    • System programming and electrical wiring is completed in parallel with equipment assembly and fabrication

Modular System Fabrication

    • Distillation systems are constructed inside EPIC’s state-of-the-art machine shop
    • Quality assurance checks are performed throughout the fabrication and assembly process
    • Entire system is fully tested per ASME requirements

Plant Construction Management

    • EPIC oversees and actively any site civil and facilities engineering
    • Site civil and facility modifications happen in parallel with distillation system fabrication in the EPIC shop

Onsite System Installation

    • Completed distillation modules are insured, packaged, and shipped to our client’s manufacturing sites where they are installed by EPIC’s experienced project managers

Industrial Distillation System Start-Up and Support

    • EPIC’s engineers provide startup coverage until the distillation plant is fully functional.

We strive to take the burdens of project management from our clients, regardless of the industry, to apply innovative technology and dedicated project oversight.

Contact EPIC Modular Process Systems to learn more or to discuss how we can help you meet your manufacturing objectives with a custom distillation system


EPIC has successfully completed distillation systems in the following industries:

  • Alternative fuels distillation

      • Corn to ethanol – Converting corn biomass to ethanol fuel through fermentation, chemical processing and distillation.
      • Cellulosic fuels – Converting the cellulose of plants and wood to biofuels including ethanol, butanol, diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel
      • Biobutonal – Producing butonal from biomass through extraction of glucose and butyrate, chemical treatment, fermentation and distillation.
      • Biodiesel – Using transesterification or alcoholysis to react vegetable oils or animal fats with short-chain aliphatic alcohols to produce biodiesel
      • Biomethane to gasoline – Gases released in the natural fermentation of dead plant and animal material, household waste, or sewage are converted into biogas by anaerobic digestion or fermentation. Examples of biogas components are methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and small amounts of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and siloxanes.
      • Biomass products to synthesized crude oil – Hydrocarbon chains are extracted from biomass through pressure cooking and thermal depolymerization and processed into biofuels
  • Industrial chemicals distillation

      • Industrial chemicals – Common bulk and commodity chemicals
      • Specialty chemicals – Smaller quantity rarer chemicals often involving more complex formulas
  • Petro-chem distillation

      • Natural gas
      • Petroleum
      • Gasoline