Project Synopsis

Provide a commercial sized process design expansion for an existing facility producing agricultural superabsorbent material that was operating on a demonstration scale.

Project Summary


The client has developed a process to produce a new biodegradable superabsorbent for agricultural and landscaping applications.  The client operated a large pilot/small production plant for a number of years while proving their process and seeking funding for a large expansion.  The client desired to increase production from nominally 1 MMlbs/yr to 7.5 MMlbs/yr, 15 MMlbs/yr, and eventually 30 MMlbs/yr in staged expansions.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client to execute the process design package for a new full-scale process producing 7.5 MMlbs/yr to start with, and having capabilities for expansion to 30 MMlbs/yr.  Major process unit operations included solids (dough) extrusion, multiple granulation and extraction steps, multiple mechanical solid-liquid separation steps (hydrocyclones), centrifugation, solvent filtration, solvent recovery via distillation, nitrogen blanketing and vent gas recycle systems, product drying, and various utilities.  Project tasks included:

  • Computer process simulation using PROCESS‘ licensed commercial computer process simulation software, CHEMCAD, to support mass and energy balance development, followed by process flow diagrams (PFDs) preparation, piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) preparation, process description preparation, and process control description preparation
  • Equipment, instrument, valve, and line lists preparation
  • Process equipment design and specification
  • Process instrumentation and control valve specification
  • Inert gas (nitrogen) and vent gas systems design and specification, including:
    • Nitrogen supply
    • In-tank nitrogen based tank mixing system
    • Vent gas collection header
    • Vent gas compressor
    • Vent gas absorber/water wash column (solvent recovery)
    • Nitrogen recycle system
  • Evaluation and specification of pressure relief valves (PRVs)
  • Utilities (cooling water, chilled water, steam, nitrogen) capacities evaluations
  • Assistance with testing of solvent ultra-filtration technology (at vendor’s testing lab)
  • Evaluation of potential used process and utility equipment, including:
    • Distillation Column
    • Heat Exchangers
    • Automatic Backwashing Tubular Filters
    • Product Dryer
    • Cooling Towers
    • Chillers
    • Boilers
  • Process area General Arrangement (GA) drawing development, production, and revision
  • Development of equipment, instrumentation, and valve datasheets, vendor specifications, and vendor price quotations for inclusion in process design package and capital cost estimate
  • Process design level capital cost estimate
  • Process design package development, review, and submittal
  • Client permit application support
  • Design review meetings participation
  • Client and detail engineering firm support during plant construction.

Industry Type

  • Agricultural Chemical Products

Utilized Skills

  • Process expansion planning
  • Plant process design
  • Schedule A process design package
  • Plant expansion support

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