Project Synopsis

Preliminary process design and capital cost estimates of multi-stage fractionation units for a solvent recovery system at multiple plant locations. Simulation Diagram

Project Summary


The client owns and operates multiple solvent recovery facilities in the U.S. and desired to initiate plans to increase overall solvent recovery capacity and improve recovery efficiency by installing multi-stage fractionation systems in several facilities where multiple single flash units were in operation.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted to perform a preliminary process design for the recovery system desired at all facilities and to develop preliminary design level capital cost estimates for multiple facilities requiring varying degrees of upgrade.  To this end, PROCESS completed the following project tasks:

  • Development of a process design basis based on current operation of the most up-to-date client solvent recovery facility and client operational goals and constraints for upgraded facilities operation
  • Facilitation of the development of the process stream analytical data required for characterization of the process streams
  • Development of characterizations of the facilities process streams
  • Development of a comprehensive computer process simulation and process flow diagram (PFD) of current operation of the most up-to-date facility
  • Development of a comprehensive computer process simulation and PFD of upgraded facilities operation
  • Preparation of a preliminary process design for upgraded facilities operation
  • Development of capital cost estimates for multiple facilities upgrades.

The development of a computer process simulation for the most up-to-date solvent recovery facility was done to provide a baseline for upgraded facilities design.  PROCESS performed a facility site visit for the purpose of gathering current operating data and directed facility personnel to execute boiling point curve analyses for the facility feedstock, light and heavy organic byproducts, and recovered solvent products.  With this information, PROCESS was able to regress the stream analytical data using its licensed commercial process simulation software thermodynamics package and develop normal boiling point (NBP) pseudo-component characterizations for the streams.  Using the stream characterization information and operating data obtained during the site visit, PROCESS was able to accurately simulate operation of the facility.  In this manner, the simulation model was validated for design of upgraded facilities operation.

Once the upgraded facilities process design was complete, PROCESS developed vendor bid packages and obtained purchased equipment costs for upgraded facilities major unit operations.  An in-house factored capital cost estimating program was then used to develop the preliminary design level capital cost estimates for multiple facilities that required varying degrees of upgrade.

The client will use the capital estimates in the preparation of an overall economic evaluation designed to make decisions relative to individual facilities upgrades.

With the first-time characterization of the solvent recovery facilities process streams and the subsequent development of comprehensive computer process simulations for solvent recovery facility operation, PROCESS developed an important tool for the client that will be used in later design and process debottlenecking/ optimization studies.

Industry Type

  • Petroleum Refining

Utilized Skills

  • Front end engineering design (FEED)
  • Pseudo-component normal boiling point stream characterizations
  • Computer process simulation
  • Fractionation unit characterization
  • PFD creation
  • Cost estimating
  • Basic engineering package (BEP)

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