Project Synopsis

Identify and evaluate technical alternatives to cool batch reactors during power outage events and thereby prevent unwanted reportable emission events.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client to identify engineering solutions and technical options to prevent the unwanted release of reportable quantities of volatile gases from their manufacturing facility due to frequent unscheduled power outages.

The client produces various fuel additives/detergents in an existing set of four (4) batch reactors.  The production facility is prone to frequent interruptions in electrical service. Loss of electricity leaves the batch reactors vulnerable to uncontrolled temperature increases.  These temperature increases have resulted in over-pressure of the reactors, and these over-pressure conditions have led to unwanted emissions of reportable quantities of solvent material and ammonia.  There is no system in place to counter the unwanted effects of a power loss.

PROCESS prepared a Design Basis document that outlined the input parameters to be used in the technical evaluation and submitted the document to the client.  PROCESS then prepared an outline of potential solutions to the reactor over-pressure condition and submitted this summary of solutions, as well as recommendations for future work to the client.

Reactor over-pressure can be mitigated by installation of diesel back-up power generators.  The client had already identified this solution prior to engaging PROCESS.  The issue for plant personnel is that corporate management decided that the price required for this solution was excessive and that other alternatives could be developed.

Many of the solutions put forward by PROCESS exploited the use of heat sinks within the plant boundary to cool the reactor with minimal use of back-up electrical power (and the auxiliary equipment required to handle power distribution).  This included cool water stored in the cooling tower basin (which can be circulated to heat exchangers via direct-fired diesel-powered pumps), cold propylene glycol stored in a refrigerated cooling unit, and ambient air.  Use of an existing ground flare was also included in many of the design solutions.  These solutions utilized relatively small amounts of auxiliary power.

At this time, PROCESS‘ recommendations are under consideration by the client.  Further engineering is required to ensure that the back-up power option envisioned by the client, as well as the options forwarded by PROCESS, can be implemented with the existing facility equipment sizes and geometries.  Process conditions respond in a highly nonlinear fashion to interruptions in power.  Any viable solution must be able to accommodate this nonlinear response and then recover control of plant operations.

Industry Type

  • Fuel Additive Manufacturing

Utilized Skills

  • Process technical alternatives identification and evaluation

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