Project Synopsis

Provide process engineering support to increase throughput and automate an existing semi-batch process for the bleaching of food grade edible oils.

Project Summary


The client, an edible oil manufacturing facility, contracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to develop a process design package for an atmospheric packed bed bleaching system.  The client had installed a continuous packed bed vacuum bleaching system that was operating with poor results (relative to both efficiency and product quality).   The client had partially modified the existing equipment to use it as a batch operation and this resulted in a much higher quality product; however, the system efficiency was still poor due to lack of automation, equipment sizing, and use of current piping/valves.  PROCESS was contracted to prepare a process design for the system that utilized existing equipment, valves, and instruments to the extent possible, while maximizing operating efficiency and upgrading automation.

Specifically, the project tasks involved:

  • Preparation of a design basis document and Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs) for the modified system.
  • Preparation of an Operating Timeline to show how the equipment could be operated to sequence from one bleaching filter to the next with minimal loss in production time.  The timeline showed approximately 16 hours/day of on-line time with existing equipment could be realized as compared to a maximum of 6 hours/day as it was currently being operated.
  • Preparation of piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) for the system.  This included marking up existing P&IDs for tie in points, new piping/instruments, and demolition, as well as generating new P&IDs.
  • Preparation of equipment duty specifications for new and modified equipment.  This included specifications for new pumps, new and modified raw material feeders, and modification of existing tanks for the addition of heating coils.
  • Solicitation and review of vendor proposals for the new/modified equipment.
  • Preparation of a system functional description detailing the valve sequencing to operate the semi-batch process automatically and reducing operator interface.

The design of the system provided a greater than 100% increase in bleached oil capacity for the facility as compared to current operation of the existing equipment.


Industry Type

  • Food & Beverage Manufacturing

Utilized Skills

  • Process cycle time analysis
  • Process automation
  • Process design

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