Project Synopsis

Pilot testing of a batch process byproduct reaction system and development of a process design for commercial scale implementation in a new metal powder production facility.

Project Summary


The client contracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to facilitate the pilot testing of a batch production byproduct (elemental sodium and elemental potassium mixture, NaK) steam reaction system that was fabricated by a third party engineering company as well as to develop a process design for commercial scale implementation of the reaction system in a new metal powder production facility.  This pilot testing was the result of a recommendation from an earlier project during which PROCESS performed an evaluation of alternatives for disposal of the NaK.

Project tasks included the following:

  • Review of the third party detail design of the NaK reaction pilot system
  • Participation in hazard and operability studies (HAZOPs) of the pilot system, functioning as the system process engineering representative to the meetings
  • Development of detailed operating procedures for processing the reactors and NaK collection vessels with the pilot system
  • On-site technical supervision of all pilot system batch processing
  • Preparation of a pilot testing summary report
  • Development of a process design for commercial-scale implementation of the NaK reaction system in a new metal powder production facility.

After a review of the detail design of the pilot system, HAZOPs were performed for operation of the pilot system in two different plant locations.  The HAZOPs were particularly important to this project due to the energetic nature of the steam-NaK reaction, the production of hydrogen by this reaction and the need to maintain an inert atmosphere for the system offgas, and the fact that this operation would be unique to this particular production industry.  These factors also led to the preparation of very detailed operating procedures that described the batch processing step-by-step, with each step requiring signoff by the pilot-testing supervisor as it was completed.  The PROCESS Project Manager also functioned as the supervisor for all pilot tests.

The testing included eleven different reactors and five NaK collection vessels at two separate existing production areas in the plant.  Once the testing was complete, a report was issued that addressed the product quality, process safety, environmental, and cycle time aspects of the pilot system.  The tests were deemed to be an overwhelming success relative to the commercial-scale viability of the process.

After the testing was completed, PROCESS was tasked with developing a process design for commercial-scale application of the NaK reaction system in a new metal powder production facility currently being designed for the plant.  Design sub-tasks included:

  • Process design basis preparation
  • Mass and energy balance development and process flow diagram (PFD) preparation
  • Process control system design and process control diagram (PCD) preparation
  • Equipment layout drawing preparation
  • Capital cost estimate development

Industry Type

  • Batch Chemical Production

Utilized Skills

  • Design review
  • Mass and energy balance
  • PFD preparation
  • PCD preparation
  • HAZOP participation
  • Pilot plant operation supervision
  • Equipment layout
  • Process scaleup to commercial size
  • Capital cost estimating
  • Front End Engineering Design (FEED)

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