Module code: ENG3199

Module Overview

Multicomponent separation is the most commonly used industrial separation process world-wide 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 students' knowledge and understanding to include multicomponent systems involving distillation and adsorption. It also introduces students to detailed separation processes specific to petroleum engineering such as dehydration and water treatment, desulfurisation, and dewaxing.

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

PUTRANTO Aditya (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 84

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:


  • Yield and Separation Factor

  • Effect of operating variables on separation performance

Multicomponent Liquid/Vapour Systems

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

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

  • Shortcut Design Method

    • Fenske equation

    • Underwood equation

    • Gilliland / Eduljee correlation

    • Kirkbride correlation

    • Use of equation set

  • Plate to plate design

    • Generalised methods

    • MESH equations, matrix solutions

    • Inside out and rigorous solution

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

  • Hydraulic gradient and tray passes

  • Pressure drop, tray pressure balance and downcomer backup

  • Froth height and tray spacing

    • Design variables and effects on operation

    • Hydraulic malfunctions

Fluid/Solid and Bio-separations

  • Adsorption column design

  • Adsorbents and adsorption isotherms

Petroleum Separation Processes

  • Separation/removal of fine catalyst particles from vapour and flue gas streams on the fluid catalytic cracking process involving equipment such as cyclones, electrostatic precipitators and wet gas scrubbers.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 20

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:

  • Coursework - 20% (LO1, LO3)

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

Formative assessment

Formative assessments will include:

  • A revision of pre-requisite knowledge from previous modules at the start of the semester

  • Exam-style short questions during the semester to test ongoing knowledge and to practice exam technique.


Verbal feedback during tutorial sessions, written feedback on the coursework.

Module aims

  • a systematic appreciation and critical awareness of the importance of component separation to the global 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 fluid/solid and biological systems, based on adsorption, and 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, and initial sizing of biological separation operations based on adsorption, in sufficient detail to efficiently set up a process simulator to carry out a design simulation. KCP
004 Explain in detail some separation processes specific to petroleum engineering including dehydration and water treatment, desulfurisation, and dewaxing. 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                              

  • Tutorials                     

  • Coursework 

  • Independent Learning

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: ENG3199

Other information

The five pillars of the Surrey Curriculum Framework are embedded in this module as follows:

  • Digital capabilities: upon completion of this module, students will be able to confidently scope out a distillation column design in sufficient detail to efficiently set up a process simulator to carry out a design simulation. Students can further develop their skills in the use of Excel through the solution of tutorial problems which necessitate the use of a spreadsheet.
  • Employability: a sound understanding of the fundamental principles defining the operation of separation processes is essential to a graduate engineer. Other skills such as presentation and communication of engineering calculations are also developed through tutorial sessions and the completion of the coursework element.
  • Global and cultural capabilities: separation processes are highly utilised worldwide. Examples provided in this module through class examples and tutorial problems can represent a range of separations which could occur globally.
  • Resourcefulness and resilience: the use of tutorial questions and class examples in a supportive environment gives students the opportunity to learn through mistakes. Students further develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. Through optional further reading, students take charge of their learning.
  • Sustainability: in the module students consider sustainability aspects as they relate to heat integration, column optimisation, energy usage, operating conditions, efficiency, yield, and others.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering BEng (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemical and Petroleum 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 2025/6 academic year.