Project Synopsis

Develop a process design package for a process to convert waste plastics into a synthetic crude oil via pyrolysis.

Project Summary


The client is a privately-owned licensed technology provider that develops “By-Product Synergy” processes to turn one company’s waste into a valuable resource for another company, saving landfill space and creating new revenues.  Industries served by the client include: petroleum, petrochemical, inks, paints and coatings, printing, chemical, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, engineering/consulting, transportation, steel manufacturing, and general manufacturing.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was asked to develop an FEL-2 process design package for a synfuel process system to convert waste stream plastics into a high-grade crude oil to be sold to refineries as a synthetic crude blend material.

After completion and review of the FEL-1 documentation, which included a basic process simulation and block flow diagram, PROCESS developed the FEL-2 package which included the following tasks and documents:

  • Updated PFD with process simulation modifications.  The process simulation (completed using CHEMCAD) was modified to incorporate information from lab analyses received on a material similar to the expected product stream.  The resultant changes to the system specifications were used to generate the preliminary equipment specifications.  A two-stage condensing system was added and the heat exchangers were designed utilizing CCTHERM software.
  • Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) that depicted primary unit operations, major process and utility streams, and primary instrumentation and controls. The P&IDs were process design level drawings.
  • Equipment duty specifications for the base design of the synfuel process.  The unit operations included bulk feeding systems, solids dryer, solids melting unit, pyrolysis reactor, high temperature gas scrubber/reactor, hot oil heating system,  high temperature gas filtration,  air cooled condenser, liquid cooled condenser, emissions scrubbers (dry and wet), thermal oxidizer, associated heat recovery systems, and crude oil storage tanks.  Process information contained in the duty specifications included heat duties; process rates; normal, minimum, and maximum operating conditions; and major and minor stream compositions.
  • Process control description which described the operation of the primary process controls and the functionality of the primary instrumentation.
  • Equipment, instrument, and valve lists
  • Operating cost estimate for the system that included the total annualized cost of operating the process.  This overall cost included utilities costs based on duty specifications, raw materials and waste disposal costs based on heat and material balance information, and maintenance requirements.
  • Systems emissions estimate package which summarized the maximum potential to emit (PTE) estimates for the process on both an hourly peak and annual average basis for the purpose of air permitting.  As part of this task, an updated process flow diagram showing potential emission points was generated along with a heat and material balance to accompany the tabular emissions estimate summary.

After completion of this project, PROCESS was contracted by the client to continue with FEL-3 design of the project to include issued for design P&IDs and PFDs, process design of the utility systems, solicitation of vendor bids for all key process equipment, generation of a system layout, facilitation and participation in a process hazards analysis (PHA), and solicitation of preliminary budget pricing from mechanical and electrical contractors for installation of the process.

Industry Type

  • Licensed Process Technology Development
  • Waste Recycling
  • Alternative Fuels


Utilized Skills

  • Synfuel system process design
  • Front End Loading (FEL) design
  • Factored cost estimating
  • New process emissions estimating

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