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Publication Title | A METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH TO PROCESS INTENSIFICATION

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ICHEME SYMPOSIUM SFRIES NO; \M

A METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH TO PROCESS INTENSIFICATION

M.Wood and A.Green

BHR Group Limited. The Fluid Engineering Centre. Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 OAJ

Process Intensification (PI) is a design philosophy where process plant is designed to match the fundamental requirements of the chemical process and meet business needs. The benefits of applying PI include smaller, inherently safe plant; reduced energy requirement: improved product quality: lower capital cost. This paper describes a methodology that assesses the feasibility for applying PI to a chemical process. Application of the methodology is demonstrated on the design of a continuous, intensified reactor to replace a semi-batch stirred tank reactor. The resulting conceptual PI plant has an inventory three orders of magnitude smaller, eliminates runaway potential, and provides significant economic benefits.

Keywords: Process intensification, static mixer, compact heat exchanger, continuous process

INTRODUCTION

It is likely that the chemical plant of the future will be far smaller than that of today (1). This can be achieved only by a step change in the plant technology used, rather than incremental improvements of existing plant items. The philosophy of size reduction has been in existence for several years under the name of Process Intensification (PI). Smaller equipment can result in reduced capital cost and reduced operating costs, whilst giving improved product quality. Just as important, according to Kletz (2), is that smaller often means inherently safer. Despite these benefits, uptake of PI appears to be low. There are many possible reasons for tins. Standard process design and development has stressed the use of batch reactors (3). often with limited available knowledge of reaction kinetics. Lack of awareness of novel technology has to be overcome, from new graduates right through to top level management. Conservatism within the chemical industry may also result in unwillingness to take the risk with novel technology. The challenge of increasing the use of PI lies in promoting a different approach to process development, which should assist in overcoming these barriers.

Current procedures for applying PI technology also need to be considered, as this can tend to be done with an equipment driven approach. Organisations that have developed novel technology will look for applications where a chemical process can be run in their particular equipment. The equipment driven approach can be summed up through die opinion that PI is currently a solution looking for a problem. This situation needs to be reversed so problems look to PI for solutions, known as the process driven approach. Equipment should be chosen to match the process and allow it to run at its optimal rate, resulting in the consideration of a range of intensified equipment where normally only conventional plant would be used. The methodology set out in this paper uses a process driven approach to assess the feasibility for applying PI. It should be stressed that this methodology is not about forcing PI upon situations where it is not really required, but it aims to find

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