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Publication Title | philosophy of Process Intensification to the production of formaldehyde from methanol

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Chapter 1: Introduction

The motivation for this work was to investigate the possibilities for applying the philosophy of Process Intensification to the production of formaldehyde from methanol. Formaldehyde is one of the most important industrial chemicals, being consistently within the group of 50 most produced (by tonnage) with the annual worldwide production capacity exceeding 5.5 billion tonnes [1]. It also has the characteristics of a process that can benefit from intensification, as will be discussed in the next section (Process Intensification).

The properties, uses and production methods for formaldehyde are explained in the first sub-section, followed by a thermodynamic investigation of the possibility of maximising hydrogen production during the production of formaldehyde (Use of Heat Exchange to Maximise Hydrogen Production).

The following Chapters involve a review of literature on the Silver Catalysed Reaction Mechanism (Chapter 2), an experimental investigation into the silver catalyst reaction mechanism (with the method explained in Chapter 3 and results in Chapter 4), a micro-kinetic modelling investigation of the silver reaction mechanism (Chapter 5), a discussion of all the results (Chapter 6) and finally, a chapter on the conclusions (Chapter 7).

Process Intensification

Process Intensification (PI) has been defined as “a philosophy of plant design and construction whereby a given performance is achieved in very much smaller equipment - typically with a volume reduction of two or three orders of magnitude” [2]. These reductions in size can come from using smaller individual pieces of equipment or by cutting the number of unit operations or pieces of equipment used in the process. A volume reduction of a factor of two or more (not necessarily two orders of magnitude) was considered by [3] to be drastic enough to be labelled PI and this work broadened the definition of PI to include a dramatic increase in production capacity within a given volume, a significant decrease in energy consumption per ton of product, or large decreases in waste or by-product formation.

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