Project Synopsis

Develop a process design of heat transfer fluid cooling loop, perform a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) and purchase and install equipment for conversion and operation with Paratherm

Project Summary

The client, a chemical manufacturing company, operates a reactor for the production of methyl esters as well as fatty acids. Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS), was contracted by the client to develop a process design of the Paratherm cooling loop with sufficient detail to perform a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) and purchase and install equipment for conversion and operation with Paratherm.  Specific tasks and deliverables for the process design include such items as equipment specifications, line sizing, control valve and pressure safety valves (PSVs) sizing, P&ID development, and a creation of a control system Functional Specification.The reactor is an agitated, vertical process vessel indirectly heated with separate internal coils using hot oil or steam.  Overheads from the reactor are cooled in the shell and tube partial condenser.  Condensate from the partial condenser is either refluxed to the reactor or sent to a receiver.  Uncondensed vapor off the partial condenser is completely condensed in the shell and tube total condenser and collected in a receiver.  In the current design, the partial condenser is cooled with tempered water and the total condenser is cooled with cooling tower water.

It is desired to replace the tempered water cooling of the partial condenser with the food-grade thermal fluid, Paratherm.  The tempered water is normally supplied with make-up river water which contains solids, chlorides, and other impurities that are detrimental to the equipment.  Cooling of the total condenser would remain on tower water.  Paratherm would operate in a closed loop supported by a new expansion tank, piping, pump, instrumentation, and controls.  Warm Paratherm would flow from the partial condenser to the pump.  Circulating Paratherm would then be pumped through a new plate and frame cooler, then through the steam reheater (only used for start-up), and returned to the partial condenser.  Cooling of the plate and frame exchanger would be with cooling tower water.   During cold startup, the steam reheater would continue to be used to preheat the cold Paratherm to the set-point temperature of the Partial Condenser for methyl ester production and a different set point temperature for fatty acid production.

PROCESS developed a Process Design Package and submitted it to the client.  A PHA was conducted, followed by equipment selection, purchase, and installation.  Once tie-ins are completed, it is anticipated that PROCESS will remain active in the shakedown and commissioning of the new process configuration.

Industry Type

Batch Chemical Manufacturing


Utilized Skills

  • Heat transfer systems design
  • Control systems design