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Check out the benefits of O_Distill


OPTIMAL PROFILES of distillate flowrate, pressures, and top temperature to reduce batch time.

AUTOPILOT to increase productivity while meeting batch objectives.


Based on 20+ years of experience in the development of autopilots for the process industry, Online Control, in collaboration with EPFL and industrial partners, has developed and tested O_Distill, a batch distillation optimization strategy to separate complex mixtures into several fractions.

What is it all about?

In contrast to recipe-based batch operation strategies and model-based optimization strategies typically used in the batch distillation industry, O_Distill minimizes batch time and enforces operational objectives on the basis of process and laboratory measurements.

Based on concentration measurements at fraction and batch ends (e.g., GC, near-infrared), O_Distill helps:

    • Achieve the desired batch objectives (product and/or solvent purity and recovery)
    • Reduce batch time significantly (typically 30%, but could be much more)
    • Improve the automation level
    • Handle various operational limitations

O_Distill consists of two advanced controller blocks:

    • Batch-to-batch controller: before each fraction, this controller adjusts the setpoint profiles of key variables (such as top temperature and pressure drop) based on the results obtained at the previous batch.
    • High-level controller: this controller tracks on-line the setpoint profiles by adjusting the setpoints of the customer low-level controllers, which adjust valves and the vacuum pump speed.

On top of recipe-based plant automation system (e.g. Emerson DeltaV, Siemens PCS7, Schneider Télémécanique) and based on Online Control’s experience in the field of industrial automation and implementation of autopilots in the process industry, O_Distill is implemented on a stand-alone industrial PC with user-friendly configurations.

Online Control also offers consultancy services during the first project phase. O_Distill SimDist and O_Distill SimOptimizer are used to investigate operational strategies for the customer’s distillation columns, gain useful insight as well as to pre-setup and test off-line the O_Distill industrial software system.


O_Distill is available in two different configurations:

    • O_Distill Basis for batch distillations with variable distillate flowrate but constant pressure and pressure drop (up to 30% batch time reduction)
    • O_Distill Plus for batch distillations with variable distillate flowrate, pressure, and pressure drop (significant additional batch time reduction)

Process knowledge:

    • The dynamic simulator O_Distill SimDist provides insight into the customer’s distillation process
    • O_Distill helps define batch objectives (e.g. solvent and/or product purity and recovery)
    • The optimizer O_Distill SimOptimizer uses dynamic numerical optimization to define optimal operational strategies

Model-free measurement-based optimization:

  • Reaches minimal batch time on the basis of process and laboratory measurements without the use of models during industrial production


    • Reduces batch time for each successive batch
    • Reaches minimal batch time after only a few batches

    Quality control:

      • Handles changes in user-defined purity and recovery objectives
      • Ensures product purity objective using safe-cut conditions
      • Handles variations in mass and composition of the initial batch charge

    Increase automation level:

      • Works with the existing automation system
      • Controls each fraction and handles transitions between fractions
      • Is robust with respect to pressure perturbations
      • Handles operational limitations automatically
      • Reduces commissioning time through in-office pre-setup tests using a dynamic real-time simulator

    And more:

      • Connects easily to a customer PLC (ABB, Rockwell, Schneider-Electric, Siemens, Yokogawa, etc.)
      • Plant automation available such as server/client set-ups with operator panels and manager PCs for reporting

    Please contact us for more detailed information.

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