Our client is one of the world’s largest producer of polymers and plastics. The goal of the assignment was to benchmark the production process that was optimized over a span of 25 years and provide improvements for a new production plant. The benchmarking study included primary monomer production process that was generating more than $500 million in annual revenue. Detailed laboratory and plant data were reviewed along with the chemical kinetic model. Also, process details of the existing plant were provided.

Our team first began by reviewing kinetic and thermodynamic data. Thermodynamic property model parameters were improved based on available vapor – liquid – liquid equilibrium data. The existing kinetic model had a large number of independent parameters and did not include several key parameters. A new kinetic model was developed that included fewer number of variables and at the same time take into account important variables that were missed. Reactor design was performed along with the design of distillation-based separation system. The benchmarking and retrofit study included generating process options, design followed by cost estimation. Process alternatives were then evaluated for capital and operating costs and compared to the base case.

Multiple process alternatives were identified with close to 30% reduction in capital and operating cost. One interesting outcome was that the base case could be operated with existing equipment but with new operating parameters to produce 30% more product and no additional energy cost for the increased production. Several patents were filed and granted to the Client based on this work.

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