In most distillation towers, packing efficiency is represented as HETP, or height equivalent to a theoretical plate.

All mass transfer devices’ mass transfer efficiency is influenced by system parameters. Liquid viscosity and surface tension are two system parameters that influence efficiency. The regularity of liquid and vapour distribution also affects the efficiency of a packed system. The system-based HETP approach believes that a specified separation eliminates homogeneous liquid and vapour distribution. This notion is advantageous since it separates the system’s impact on HETP from distribution concerns.

Norton has established a correlation for calculating HETP from system parameters as a first step in projecting HETP values.

Test data in columns with uniform vapour and liquid distribution in the same system or a system with very similar attributes should be used to check the expected HTEP values. Norton has a large database of operating data from a wide range of systems and can give reference data to check final HETP values if needed.

The efficiency correlation is valid for systems that are non-aqueous, non-reacting, and non-ionizing, and have a low relative volatility (Less than three)

Other methods must be used to estimate packing efficiency in other services or systems.

Actual HETP values will be significantly higher than the System Base HETP value due to non-uniform liquid and vapour distribution. Commercial towers, on the other hand, routinely reach the System Base HETP values with adequate liquid and vapour dispersion. Commercial towers, on the other hand, that have proper liquid and vapour dispersion consistently approach the system Base HETP within 13%. As a result, Norton designs frequently use HETP values that are 13% higher than the System base HETP.  

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