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Process Systems & Pilot Plants

Vacuum Distillation Column

industrial vacuum distillation system

3d model of a vacuum distillation system by EPIC

High boiling points (at atmospheric pressure) or easily decomposed substances may require vacuum distillation to separate. By creating a vacuum in the distillation column, you can lower the pressure in the column, and ultimately the heat requirements (and the boiling points) of substances. This saves sensitive elements from over-heating or makes it much less expensive (energy wise) to get a substance with a high atmospheric boiling point to separate.

Working with your base technology, our industrial distillation experts will design, model and simulate your separation. Combining our proven engineering methods with your process technology we will select the optimal system design. EPIC balances your budget, output requirements, available footprint and other factors. We take turnkey project responsibility designing, fabricating, testing and installing your vacuum distillation system. Start the process now by contacting an engineer or calling (314) 845-0077.

Proven Project Examples: Vacuum Distillation Systems

Vacuum Distillation Column Design Scale Up

EPIC designed and fabricated a vacuum distillation system for a liquid flavors company in the food and beverage industry. The client needed to scale up production of an existing batch distillation process of a proprietary liquid flavor that had seen a spike in popularity. Process engineers at EPIC worked closely with the customer – who could not provide an original P&ID – to design a larger, improved version of the original vacuum distillation system. Full vacuum distillation case study…

Key Features: Split-level modular design, dedicated temperature control unit (TCU), individual control loops for customizable temperature control, 22-foot distillation column and a 230-gallon stainless steel tank.

4.5psia dual vacuum distillation columnsVacuum distillation design lowers energy requirements for ethanol separation

A distillation system attempting to achieve 91% separation of ethanol and water benefited from a 4.5psia vacuum, which lowered required energy inputs. Both columns in this dual-column design were under vacuum, which allowed water and ethanol to boil off at lower temperatures. Hydrotesting on both columns before shipment ensured a leak-free system and complete vacuums in both columns. Full ethanol separation case study

Key Features: Dual column design with five spools each, rated for 15psig at 250 degrees Fahrenheit; water-ethanol separation; 4.5psia vacuum created by integrated vacuum pump; hydrotesting to confirm full vacuums with no leaks.


“We wouldn’t even put EPIC Systems in the running if we thought that they were incapable in any way of handling each and every one of our process and safety specifications. We have no doubt that the innovative solutions built and automated by EPIC will far surpass industry and market standards for accuracy, saving us time, money and future redesign.

We want to be challenged to build the most innovative and most efficient systems for our manufacturing processes. With all of their recommendations, EPIC provides solid rationale for this caliber of advanced systems. I appreciate the fact that I have an external engineering team and that I can call or just come by EPIC to talk about a new concept or project.” – Industrial Manufacturing Client

How Does Adding Vacuum Benefit my Distillation Process?

Boiling points of water and matching vacuum requirements diagram

Boiling points of water and matching vacuum requirements diagram

Adding vacuum into a distillation process, lowers the pressure in the system, which in turn lowers the temperature that substances will boil at. For example, water normally boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) at atmospheric pressure (14.695 PSIA), but under a vacuum that lowers pressure to 6.866 PSIA, water will start boiling at 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius).

The lower boiling points for all substances ultimately lowers the heating requirements for the entire system. Of course, there are trade-offs. To add a vacuum, you will have to add a vacuum pump to the system, and as your required PSIA gets lower, your vacuum pump will have to get bigger. So, a balance between lowered heating requirements and equipment requirements must be reached.

Next Step: Bring your Process and EPIC will Provide the Distillation System

  1. Installation of custom distillation process moduleKnow your own process technology – EPIC does not provide specific process technologies. You should know what you are separating and a basic process for achieving that separation. EPIC will help you scale your process into a working pilot plant or full-scale production system
  2. Contact EPIC or call us at (314) 845-0077 to discuss your application. A thorough discussion of your distillation goals, budget and technology will help both parties determine if this project is a technical and commercial fit. EPIC will take turnkey responsibility for your distillation system, walking you through design through fabrication and install.
  3. Front-end engineering and system design are completed as project partners. EPIC’s distillation scale-up specialists simulate your process parameters at the increased scale, complete Process Flow Diagrams (PFD’s), Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID’s), material balances, equipment lists and any other required design documentation to present you with a complete bid package. Our proven engineering methods for distillation systems combine our knowledge of commercial distillation with your specific technology.
  4. Fabrication and controls engineering will begin on your custom distillation system. Our state-of-the-art fabrication plant allows for off-site system fabrication while any on-site civil modifications take place at your facility. An open door policy means you are welcome to come to EPIC to see your distillation module take shape at any point during the process.
  5. Testing, shipping and installation. Your completed vacuum distillation column will be fully tested before shipment, and arrives on-site ready for process hookups. Installation typically takes less than a week for modular distillation systems, and on-site commissioning will begin immediately.
  6. Full system start-up is complete, and training is provided for system operators. EPIC will not leave until all punch-list items are checked off and you feel comfortable running and troubleshooting the system.

 Get your custom designed vacuum distillation system today, call (314) 845-0077

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EPIC Modular Process Systems
4134 Meramec Bottom Rd
St. Louis, MO 63129, US
(314) 845-0077

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