A new model-based controller for profile position control of high-purity distillation columns is presented. The controller has been developed by incorporating nonlinear wave model into the generic model control framework. An observer based on the nonlinear wave theory is also proposed to determine the profile position. The performance of the nonlinear control scheme has been tested in simulation experiments of high-purity binary distillation columns. Tight control of profile position, which leads to fast stabilization of product compositions, has been achieved. Since the profile position control alone produces a slight offset from the desired product concentration, the composition/profile position cascade system has been used to remove the offset. The control scheme can handle significant disturbances and model-plant mismatch.