Project Synopsis

Develop a comprehensive computer simulation model of an existing Syltherm heating and cooling system in a pharmaceutical pilot plant to help improve process control and better optimize operations.

Project Summary


The client, a pharmaceutical production company, contracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to develop a comprehensive computer simulation model of their existing Syltherm heating and cooling system in their pilot plant.  The model was developed to determine flow and pressure profiles throughout the system under various operating scenarios.  The client wanted a model completed for the entire process to assist in optimizing both heating and cooling systems for nine (9) reactors and nine (9) associated condensers.  Specifically, the project tasks involved:

  • Gathering all known process data for the Syltherm system including physical properties, flows, temperatures, pressures, piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs), pipe lengths, elevations and fittings not shown on the P&IDs, reactor jacket and nozzle configurations, pumps curves, and mechanical specifications for the control valves, condensers, and electric heaters.
  • Setting up a process simulation model of the system to include all major loop equipment plus all piping segments using PROCESS‘ licensed computer process simulation software, CHEMCAD.  Equipment included a chiller, a supply header, nine (9) heating/cooling skids that each included a control valve, pump, electric heater, reactor jacket and recycle loop,  nine (9) condensers, a return header, and a receiving tank.
  • Developing unit operational specific pressure drop correlations and heat duty correlations for each reactor using an in-house computer program.  The program uses the mechanical specifications for the reactor/jacket and nozzles and the physical properties of the heating/cooling fluid and process fluid to calculate an estimated pressure drop across the reactor jacket and an estimated heat duty for the reactor.  This data was regressed into the CHEMCAD model so that the model could predict changes in pressure drop and required heat duties for each reactor as the flows and temperatures in the system changed.
  • Setting up PROCESS‘ licensed heat exchanger design and rating software CCTHERM to simulate operation of nine (9) shell and tube heat exchangers/condensers.
  • Completing a Visual Basic Applications (VBA) program to allow the client to run CHEMCAD from Microsoft Excel and output summary results to Excel in a concise format.
  • Training the client in end-use of the program.

The simulation with the integral VBA program was delivered to the client to be used to help control and optimize their heating and cooling loops.

Industry Type

  • Pharmaceutical Drug Piloting

Utilized Skills

  • Systems hydraulic modeling
  • Jacketed reactor hydraulic modeling
  • Process simulation tools development

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