Project Synopsis

Provide assistance to a detail engineering company by troubleshooting a water usage problem at an inorganic chemical manufacturing plant site.

Project Summary


The client, a detail engineering firm, was contracted by the ultimate client, a specialty inorganic chemical manufacturing facility, to provide detail engineering support at the plant site. Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was subcontracted to determine the causes of excessive plant (city) water usage at the facility.  The chemical manufacturing plant client had recently installed a new process that was designed to decrease overall city water usage at the plant.  Instead, water usage had remained the same or had actually increased slightly.  It was suspected by plant personnel that the hot water supply and distribution subsystem was the cause of the problem. PROCESS’ project tasks included:

  • Determine the reason water usage savings had not been realized by the plant
  • Quantify flow rates for the hot water supply and distribution subsystem
  • Prepare process flow diagrams (PFDs) with mass balance information for the hot water subsystem.

Extensive plant water system walk downs and discussions with plant engineering and operations personnel were performed for the purpose of attempting to determine the cause or causes of the excess water usage.  More detailed walk downs of the hot water subsystem were required for initial sketching of the hot water system for the purpose of creating subsystem PFDs.  It was determined that the hot water flow rates for significant portions of the subsystem were not measured and in fact were indeterminable.  Finally, it was discovered that significant quantities of hot condensate were being lost to the wastewater treatment system due to a leaking heat exchanger, and it was determined that this was the likely reason for the excessive water usage.

Twelve (12) PFDs for the hot water subsystem were prepared for the client. PROCESS’ primary recommendation was to repair the leaking heat exchanger and see if the expected water savings from the previous project are then realized.  If the savings are not realized, PROCESS recommended that additional study of the hot water subsystem be undertaken to measure the true flow rates of the subsystems.


Industry Type

  • Chemical Manufacturing

Utilized Skills

  • Process troubleshooting

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