Project Synopsis

Evaluate a new fractionation system for the potential production of a different light end hydrocarbon product, specifically cyclopentane.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client, a producer of aerosol propellants, to evaluate the production of cyclopentane using a new fractionation system under construction at the facility.  This new system was originally designed by PROCESS for high purity propylene production.  The client was interested in determining alternative uses for the unit to maximize use of available spare capacity.

PROCESS performed the following tasks in support of this effort:

  • Using PROCESS‘ licensed computer process simulation software the fractionation system was modeled for the production of cyclopentane.
  • Based on the specified product assay, the columns’ operating parameters including feed stage, feed rate, pressure, reflux rate, and reboiler heat duty were varied to maximize the overall recovery and throughput.  The operating conditions were bound by the capacity of the tower internals and simulation results were used to assess and verify that hydraulic loading was maintained within the design range. Additionally, various configurations were considered to determine the appropriate use of the available columns.
  • Equipment specifications were reviewed at the new operating conditions.  This included evaluations of tower internals, heat exchanger ratings, pumps, restrictive orifices, vessel nozzles, equipment pressure and temperature ratings, and utility system loads.

The operating conditions and equipment limitations determined in the study were summarized in a letter report submitted to the client.  The results showed production of cyclopentane was possible with only minor system modifications.

Based on the results of the evaluation, the client wished to incorporate cyclopentane production into the existing tower system’s service.  In support of this, PROCESS prepared process flow diagrams (PFDs) and modified system piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) to include this product.  Existing equipment specifications were updated to reflect the alternate process conditions and new specifications were created where additional or dedicated equipment was necessary.

Industry Type

  • Light End Hydrocarbon Production

Utilized Skills

  • Dual use equipment evaluation
  • Dual purpose process evaluation
  • Fractionation system design

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