Optimization-based Design of Crude Oil Distillation Units using Surrogate Column Models and a Support Vector Machine

Dauda Ibrahim, Megan Jobson, Jie Li, Gonzalo Guillen-Gosalbez

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    This paper presents a novel optimization-based approach for the design of heat-integrated crude oil distillation units, which are widely used in refineries. The methodology presented combines, within a unified framework, surrogate distillation column models based on artificial neural networks, feasibility constraints constructed using a support vector machine, and pinch analysis to maximize heat recovery, in order to optimize the distillation column configuration and its operating conditions. The inputs to the surrogate column model are given by the column structure and operating conditions, while the outputs are related to the column performance. The support vector machine classifier filters infeasible design alternatives from the search space, thus reducing computational time, and ultimately improves the quality of the final solution. The overall optimization problem takes the form of a mixed-integer nonlinear program, which is solved by a genetic algorithm that seeks the design and operating variables values that minimize the total annualized cost. The capabilities of the proposed approach are illustrated using an industrially–relevant case study. Numerical results show that promising design alternatives can be obtained using the proposed method. The approach can help engineers to design and operate petroleum refineries optimally, where these are expected to continue to play a major role in the energy mix for some years.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalChemical Engineering Research & Design
    Early online date13 Mar 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Process design
    • atmospheric distillation unit
    • Heat integration
    • Genetic algorithm
    • artificial neural network


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