Feasibility Studies and Conceptual/Preliminary Process Design (FEL-0 / FEL-1 / pre-FEED)

When clients are contemplating a new pilot facility, new plant, or major process expansion, they typically have more questions than answers. Is it technically feasible? What is the best process configuration? Should it be batch or continuous? How much would it cost?  PROCESS is able to assist by providing experienced and knowledgeable chemical engineers that can identify, and systematically narrow down, the possible technical options for a given process goal. Once the viable technical options are identified, an economic evaluation is performed. Based on technical merits, system reliability, economics (capital and operating), and other factors, it usually becomes clear as to how the future process design should progress. At this point a conceptual design can be developed by PROCESS that includes preliminary process flow diagrams, mass & energy balances, a list of major equipment, and a rough order of magnitude cost estimate.   PROCESS can also assist at this point in identifying potential risks associated with the design (weak areas in the design basis, insufficient lab data etc.) so that a plan can be developed to address these issues prior to or during the next phase of the project.


It is widely recognized that this key front end work will have a major impact on the overall project and ultimate operation of the process. If this work is not done properly, then the project is in trouble no matter how well the subsequent detail engineering, construction, and project management work are executed.


FEL 0 – Identification Phase (Conceptual Process Design or Screening Study)

Industrial project opportunities can target revenue growth; expense reductions; strategic growth; or improved reliability and/or efficiency. Clients typically identify opportunities by evaluating the value and identifying key risks and uncertainties. It is important to evaluate opportunities on a consistent basis for comparison purposes. The basis for the first decision gate is a high level screening study or conceptual process design study.  This level of work involves identifying promising chemical conversion pathways or major licensed technologies, narrowing the project down to one or more options, identifying major equipment, developing block flow diagrams, and generating an Order of Magnitude capital cost estimate range ($1MM, $10MM, $100MM, etc.).

FEL 1 – Appraisal and Selection Phases (Alternatives Evaluation and Preliminary Process Design)

Appraisal (Alternatives Evaluation)

During the appraisal phase of the project a series of process alternatives is developed and further assessment of the process value, risk, and uncertainty is conducted. Some examples may include alternatives such as batch versus continuous processing, use of different types of separation techniques (extraction versus distillation, pressure filtration versus a centrifuge), etc. The most promising development concepts progress forward to the Selection phase.

Selection (Preliminary Process Design)

The objective of the Selection phase of the project is to identify a single process concept for progression to the Detailed Process Design phase of the project. Preparation of work deliverables requires that a single process concept be selected and further developed during this phase. Once a concept has been selected, the team will complete the level of detail necessary to develop a cost estimate and preliminary project schedule with a typical accuracy of –30% to +50%. Deliverables at this stage often include the following:

  • Preliminary Process Design Basis
  • Process Alternatives Evaluations Summary
  • Preliminary Process Simulation and Heat and Material Balance Data
  • Preliminary Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs)
  • Preliminary Equipment List
  • Preliminary Major Equipment Conditions of Service List
  • Preliminary Capital and Operating Cost Estimate (+50% /-30%)
  • Preliminary Summary of Raw Materials and Utility Requirements
  • Process Risk Summary

Conceptual and Preliminary Process Design – FEL-0 – FEL-1 PROJECTS