Module code: ENG3185

Module Overview

Multicomponent separation is the most commonly used industrial separation process and a sound understanding of the fundamental principles (material/energy balances, vapour-liquid, liquid-solid, gas-solid and liquid-liquid equilibrium, separation efficiency and system hydrodynamics) defining the operation of such processes is essential to a graduate engineer.  This module extends a students knowledge and understanding to include multicomponent systems involving distillation, filtration, ultra-filtration, ion exchange and adsorption.

Module provider

Chemical and Process Engineering

Module Leader

MILLINGTON Alan (Chm Proc Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: H890

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Lecture Hours: 44

Tutorial Hours: 6

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Completion of the progression requirements to FHEQ Level 6 of degree courses in Chemical Engineering and Chemical and Bio-Systems Engineering or equivalent

Module content

Indicative content includes:


  • Yield and separation factors

  • Effect of operating variables on separation

System Properties

  • Ideal systems, dew/bubble point calculations

Thermodynamics of Non-ideal system

  • Cubic equations of state

  • Fugacity and compressibility

  • Activity and Gibbs-Duhem equation

  • Activity models

  • Azeotropes

  • Adsorbents and adsorption isotherms

  • Non-linear isotherms

Ideal Single Stage Vapour/Liquid Separation

  • Adiabatic flash separation

  • Isenthalpic flash separation

Multicomponent Distillation

  • Flow rate, concentration and temperature profiles

  • Nmin and Rmin

  • Key and non-key components

  • Shortcut design

    • Fenske equation

    • Underwood equation

    • Gilliland Eduljee correlation

    • Kirkbride equation

  • Plate to plate design

    • Generalised method

    • Inside out/rigorous solution

Azeotropic Separation    

  • Solvents and Extractors

  • Pressure Swing Distillation

  • Membrane separation

  • Separation using adsorption

Complex Fractionation

  • TBP curves and pseudo components

  • Pumparounds, side streams, multiple products

  • Control of complex fractionation

Tray and Column Hydraulics

  • Efficiency and pressure drop

  • Design variables and effects on operation

  • Column malfunctions


  • Membranes, ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis

  • Adsorption column design

  • Ion exchange

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
School-timetabled exam/test IN-SEMESTER TEST 1 (45 MINS) 10
School-timetabled exam/test IN-SEMESTER TEST 2 (45 MINS) 10
Examination EXAMINATION 2 HOUR 80

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and analytical skills over the full range of module material and to encourage progressive learning.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Class Tests – 10%, 2x45 minute, (LO1, LO3)

  • Examination – 80%, 2 hours (LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4)  

Formative assessment



Verbal feedback during tutorial sessions and the optional drop-in sessions, written feedback from Class Tests.

Module aims

  • a systematic appreciation and critical awareness of the importance of component separation to the process industry
  • a comprehensive appreciation of the characteristics of the separation of ideal and non-ideal multicomponent systems using a variety of techniques
  • an in-depth appreciation of the inter-relationships between the separation performance and operating parameters of multicomponent separating devices
  • a knowledge of the design methodologies of multicomponent distillation columns
  • an appreciation of the effects of hydraulic malfunction on separation efficiency and the ability to propose feasible scenarios of malfunction based on operating data
  • prepare a scoping design and initial sizing of some separation operations of complex biological systems, based on adsorption, ion-exchange and membranes

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Propose suitable models to explain the complexity of multicomponent multiphase equilibrium and to test and confirm their applicability.   KC
2 Explain the operating characteristics of multicomponent separating devices and their inter-relationship and analyse the appropriate equilibrium, material and energy balances. KC
3 Confidently scope out a distillation column design in sufficient detail to efficiently set up a process simulator to carry out a design simulation.        KCP
4 Accurately prepare a scoping design and initial sizing of some biological separation operations based on adsorption, ion-exchange and membranes   KC

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Take students logically through the challenging material associated with complex multicomponent multiphase separation.

  • To ensure a logical and progressive learning experience

  • To allow students to practice their skills on a series of real life tutorial problems in a supportive environment.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures                                 3.5 hours per week for 11 weeks (average)

  • Tutorials                                 0.5 hour per week for 12 weeks (average)

  • Drop-in sessions                    1 hour/week for 10 weeks (average) – [optional sessions]

  • Independent Learning 8.8 hours per week for 12 weeks (average)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG3185

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemical Engineering BEng (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemical Engineering MEng 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.