Project Synopsis

Provide a process engineering assessment and corrective recommendations to improve the operations of a rotating MSW biomass conversion reactor.

Project Summary

The client, a technology services company, contracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to provide process engineering support to develop reactor heating and vacuum system improvements for a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) conversion unit.

The plant currently operates a demonstration plant that converts MSW into usable homogenized biomass material, recovered mixed plastics, etc.  The process consists of a heated rotary batch reactor with internal coils, vacuum pumps, and water/condensate tanks.  PROCESS was tasked with providing engineering support to improve heating of the rotary reactor and the performance of the vacuum system.  The internal heat coils are prone to severe process side fouling and the vacuum pumps currently condense a significant amount of vapor evolved from the reactor which reduces the level of vacuum.

PROCESS performed a site visit to discuss the process operational issues with the technology provider’s personnel, perform a visual inspection of the equipment and layout, as well as witness the process equipment in operation.  After discussion with operations personnel and a review of the information provided by the client, the following recommendations were presented to the client:

  • To reduce the effects of fouling on the coils, replace existing internal heating coils with an external half-pipe jacket.
  • Install a preheater to heat the water that is added to the MSW in the reactor. This will reduce the batch cycle time and aids in water penetrating the cellulose fibers.
  • Install a condenser upstream of the vacuum pumps to reduce the water vapor and heat load on the vacuum pumps.

Project deliverables submitted to the client consisted of:

  • Project design basis
  • Process technical alternatives evaluation results
  • Preliminary process flow diagram including supporting mass and energy balance data of an improved process
  • Process simulation file outputs and calculations
  • Equipment duty specifications for the new or modified equipment.

Industry Type

Municipal Solid Waste Processing  

Utilized Skills

  • Process troubleshooting & improvements evaluation
  • Process enhancements preliminary process design.

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