Electrification of distillation for decarbonization

An overview and perspective

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Distillation remains the leading and most frequently adopted technique for the separation and purification of condensable mixtures in numerous industries. However, the inherently poor thermal efficiency of distillation requires a large amount of thermal energy, making it the chief factor in total process energy usage and a significant emitter of carbon dioxide due to the combustion of fossil fuels. To address this issue, electrification has arisen as a popular approach to reduce carbon emissions in different processes by primarily replacing the energy source with electricity derived from renewable energy resources. This review is designed to thoroughly explore the electrification concept in decarbonizing distillation and present a detailed analysis and summary of the cutting-edge technologies used in various distillation operations. The focus is on creating electrified distillation processes and their associated utility systems, making use of a range of power-to-heat and intensification strategies, to achieve simultaneous carbon reduction and energy savings. With the increasing variety of operating environments that incorporate renewable power, this review additionally encompasses the control and operation aspects to ensure efficient management of electrified distillation processes. To further delve into the advantages of incorporating electrification into distillation, this work proposes future directions from the viewpoints of technological advancement, design optimization, operation, and real-time scheduling of electrified distillation processes. Furthermore, this review highlights the enormous potential of electrification in dramatically lowering carbon emissions and promoting sustainable practices in the distillation industry.