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, ultra-filtration and adsorption.

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

COSTELLO Katie (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: 96

Lecture Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:


Yield and separation factors

Effect of operating variables on separation

Multicomponent Liquid/Vapour System

Ideal Systems

Definition of K value and use

Dew/Bubble point calculations

Non-ideal Systems

Cubic equations of state

Fugacity and compressibility

Activity and Gibbs-Duhem equation

Activity models


Adsorbents and adsorption isotherms

Ideal Single Stage Vapour/Liquid Separation

Adiabatic single stage equilibrium

Isenthalpic single stage equilibrium

Control of "flash" vessels

Multicomponent Distillation

Effect of operating variables on separation efficiency

Internal flow rates, concentration and temperature profiles

Nmin and Rmin

Key and non-key components

Short-cut Design Methods

Fenske equation

Underwood equation

Gilliland / Eduljee correlations

Kirkbride correlation

Use of equation set

Plate to plate design

Generalised methods

MESH equations

Generalised methods

MESH equations, matrix solutions

Inside-out and rigorous solutions

Azeotropic Separation    

Azeptropic systems, homogeneous/heterogeneous

Use of Solvents and Extractors

Pressure Swing Distillation

Membrane separation

Separation using adsorption

Complex Fractionation

Complex petroleum fractionation

TBP curves and pseudo components

Pump-arounds, side streams, multiple products

Control of complex fractionation

Column and Tray Efficiency

Basic definitions and correlations

Tray and Column Hydraulics

Hydraulic design and operation, tray passes

Hydraulic gradient and tray passes

Pressure drop, tray pressure balance and downcomer back-up

Froth height and tray spacing

Design variables and effect on operation

Hydraulic malfunctions


Membranes, ultra-filtration, reverse osmosis

Adsorption column design


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test ONLINE (OPEN BOOK) TEST 20
Examination Online ONLINE (OPEN BOOK) EXAM 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 – 20%, 2x45 minute (10% each test), (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 either adsorption or membranes

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Propose suitable models to explain the complexity of multicomponent multiphase equilibrium and to test and confirm their applicability.   KC
002 Explain the operating characteristics of multicomponent separating devices and their inter-relationship and analyse the appropriate equilibrium, material and energy balances. KC
003 Confidently scope out a distillation column design in sufficient detail to efficiently set up a process simulator to carry out a design simulation.        KCP
004 Accurately prepare a scoping design and initial sizing of some biological separation operations based on either adsorption or 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                                4 hours per week for 11 weeks (average) 

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

  • Class Tests                           2 x 0.75 hour (nominally in weeks 6 and 11)

  • Independent Learning          ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​98.5 hours (8.21 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 2021/2 academic year.