Project Synopsis

Provide an energy optimization study for a plant that produces soda ash from trona (a mineral).

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client, a chemical manufacturer, to perform an energy optimization study for a facility producing soda ash (sodium carbonate) from the trona mineral feedstock.  The client’s plant uses a combination of electricity, coal, and natural gas to produce the soda ash.  The primary process unit operations includes crushers, calciners, dissolvers, thickeners, filters, crystallizers, dryers, and classifiers.  The client desired to improve the flexibility of the process by modifying it such that it can utilize either coal or natural gas, and to also optimize plant operations based on the price of the available energy resources.

The following tasks were performed:

  • Updated and corrected the client’s existing, but outdated mass and energy balance
  • Developed a simulation of the crystallizer operation to optimize energy usage using PROCESS‘ licensed commercial computer process simulation software, CHEMCAD
  • Evaluated the possibility of using a fluidized bed coal gasifier to produce steam and co-generate electricity.

PROCESS discussed energy optimization options with the client and supplied recommendations for process changes that would minimize energy costs given the relative price differences of coal and natural gas.

Industry Type

  • Mineral Processing
  • Basic Chemical Manufacturing

Utilized Skills

  • Energy optimization study
  • Process alternatives for energy optimization

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