Project Synopsis

Comprehensive process design package preparation for a new batch specialty organic chemical manufacturing process. Simulation Diagram

Project Summary


The client owns and operates a batch specialty organic chemical manufacturing facility in the U.S. and contracted Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) to execute a complete process design for a new batch process for manufacturing a proprietary specialty organic chemical.  Major process unit operations included two batch reactors with catalyst feed and recovery systems, four continuous product recovery/purification distillation systems, and a multi-stage product crystallizer.  Project tasks included:

  • Process design basis development
  • Computer process simulation, mass and energy balance development, and process flow diagrams (PFDs) and process description preparation
  • Existing equipment, piping, and instrumentation evaluation for use in the new process
  • Process controls design, and piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) and process controls description preparation
  • Process hazards analysis (PHA) facilitation and process engineering representation
  • Vent and utilities systems evaluations
  • Pressure relief devices (PRD) design and sizing
  • Equipment duty specifications and data sheets preparation
  • Updated capital cost estimate preparation

Distillation system process simulation and design were challenging due to the presence of organic-water azeotropes, the use of significant vacuum to effect the desired separations, and the necessity of using side draws to maximize product purities.  In addition, existing plant columns were evaluated for use in the new process, and modifications to the selected columns had to be specified and cost estimated.  The fifteen (15) PFDs that were prepared showed batch loadings, transfer times, and overall cycle times for the batch parts of the process and run times and flow rates for the continuous parts of the process.  The thirty two (32) P&IDs that were prepared delineated both new and existing equipment, piping, and instrumentation for the purpose of clarifying subsequent detail design, procurement, and installation scopes of work.  The vent and utilities systems evaluation project task involved evaluating the capacities of existing thermal oxidizer and flare, process vent, steam, cooling water, nitrogen, and glycol systems.  PROCESS’ commercial process simulation software was used during the vent, flare, and thermal oxidizer evaluation subtasks in order to evaluate the thermal device capacities and performances and to identify vent system flow bottlenecks and excessive backpressure points.  Equipment duty specifications and data sheets were developed for all new equipment required by the process.  Finally, a capital cost estimate (CAPEX) had been developed prior to execution of this project and this CAPEX was updated taking into account a revised design basis and the identification of existing equipment that could be used by the new process.

The engineering documents developed during the course of this project were assimilated into a comprehensive process design report that formed the basis for a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued to engineering companies bidding on the detail design.  It is anticipated that the delineation of new and existing equipment, piping, and instrumentation (not done on a previous project for another new process by a different engineering group) will greatly decrease detail engineering costs and schedule for this new process. This project was particularly challenging because the client had wanted to fast track it by proceeding with the process scale-up design while testing was still being done in the pilot facility.

Industry Type

  • Batch Organic Specialty Chemical

Utilized Skills

  • Process design package preparation
  • Existing equipment evaluation
  • Existing instruments evaluation
  • Pressure relief valve (PRV) or pressure safety valve (PSV) sizing
  • Azeotropic distillation design
  • Basic Engineering Package (BEP)

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