Project Synopsis

Provide both conceptual process design and detail process design for an unusual utilities system at a new U.S. national user facility for nuclear science physics research.

Project Summary


The client subcontracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to perform conceptual and detail process designs for the non-conventional utilities systems at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB).  The non-conventional utilities include two cooling loops (Target cooling loop and Beam Dump cooling loop), offgas hydrogen recombination system, ion exchange resin handling system, and low level liquid waste (LLLW) system.  Michigan State University, the ultimate client, will be the location of FRIB, which is a heavy ion beam research facility. 

Specific tasks for this project included:

  • Generation of a design basis that included capacity and performance requirements for the utilities systems, flow, heat removal, and pressure drop design information for cooling loop technical components, spallation and radiolysis gas generation and handling requirements, and interface requirements.
  • Preparation of mass and energy balances for the two cooling loops, hydrogen recombiner, and LLLW system.  A complete thermo-hydraulic model was developed for the two cooling loops and the hydrogen recombiner system using PROCESS' licensed commercial computer process simulation software (CHEMCAD).  Piping layout sketches were developed based on preliminary building equipment arrangements, and these piping sketches, along with the design basis data, were used as inputs to the CHEMCAD models.  Models were completed for three different operating scenarios involving different ion beams to bound normal, maximum, and minimum operating conditions.  The model results also assisted with sizing of cooling loop and recombiner lines.
  • Preparation of process flow diagrams (PFDs) for the two cooling loops, hydrogen recombiner system, and LLLW system based on the results of the simulation models.
  • Preparation of piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) for the non-conventional utilities systems.  A total of thirteen (13) P&IDs were developed for this project.  These design level, or 60% complete, P&IDS included all major equipment items, process and utility streams, and primary instruments and controls.  A detailed Process Control Description (PCD) was also prepared to describe the functionality of the process controls, monitoring points, alarms, and interlocks.
  • Sizing of process vessels and tanks including the design of vessel internals based on residence time, batch volumes, cycle times, or other process requirements.
  • Preparation of process duty performance equipment specifications for all major equipment items in the non-conventional utilities systems.  These specifications and data sheets included pumps, heat exchangers (shell & tube, plate & frame, and electric), tanks and vessels, reactor (recombiner), control valves, ion exchange columns, filters, and blower.  Duty specifications for a total of 56 equipment items were prepared.  The specifications contain all necessary process data and materials of construction to allow proper equipment sizing and selection.  Additionally, a detailed, purchase grade specification, including vessel internals details and quality assurance requirements, was prepared for six vessels that will be installed early in the construction phase and thus need to be purchased on an expedited schedule.
  • Project design review at the end of the project at Michigan State University.  The design review served the purpose of transferring information to the detailed engineering and construction firm that will complete the mechanical facility design.

The project tasks were completed under budget and on a schedule that fully supported the project team’s other tasks and goals.


Industry Type

  • Scientific Research Facility

Utilized Skills

  • Conceptual utilities process design
  • Research facility utilities systems design
  • Process design package preparation

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