Project Synopsis

Provide process engineering support to evaluate, debottleneck, and optimize the batch production of a specialty polymer product.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was subcontracted by the client, a U.S. chemical producer, to provide a process evaluation, optimization, and debottlenecking study of a Polymer Production Process at the client’s northeast U.S. production facility.  The client currently produces a reduced specialty polymer (SP) in a multi-step batch process.  A methoxylated monomer is first produced in the Methoxylation Process for use as a feed material to the SP process. The overall objective was to analyze, model, and understand the current process, followed by developing changes and recommendations likely to increase production throughput while maintaining product quality in the existing client polymer production process.

As part of this effort, PROCESS completed the following tasks:

  • Process evaluation basis development – the existing production process and process equipment was documented, along with a preliminary material balance.
  • Process modeling and technical evaluation – a CHEMCAD model of the process was prepared, which was used to prepare a detailed heat and material balance for both the existing production line and a new line that has not yet been put in service.  An analysis of the heat and material balance indicated areas in which the existing and new lines are bottlenecked, which then became the focus of the next study phase.
  • Process debottlenecking and optimization study – Options for alleviating the bottlenecks identified in the previous study phase were identified and evaluated.  Recommendations for new equipment items and changes in operating conditions were developed.
  • Preliminary process risk assessment – The process risks inherent in implementing the recommendations were identified, along with means of mitigating these risks.
  • Discussion of automation opportunities and health, safety and environmental (HSE) opportunities – In addition to the equipment and operating condition changes identified in the process debottlenecking and optimization study, additional instrumentation and automation improvements intended to improve operator efficiency were identified.  Design features that will be required to ensure satisfactory HSE performance for a commercial-scale facility were identified for the client’s consideration as they migrate from the current lab-scale operation.
  • Performance specifications were developed for new equipment items required to implement the recommended process modifications.


Industry Type

  • Specialty Polymer Production

Utilized Skills

  • Process evaluation, debottlenecking, and optimization
  • Process risk assessment
  • Process automation improvements.

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