A Chat with SwRI's Hsiang Yee Hoekstra about Process Development

18/36   in the series Industry Interviews

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by SwRI and reflects their views, opinions, and insights.

The Process Development Symposium (PDS) will take place virtually from June 1-3. The meeting provides attendees with an opportunity to exchange wisdom, knowledge, and personal experience in process development in areas like designing robust, flexible, and sustainable processes. I had a chance to interview Hsiang Yee Hoekstra, a senior research engineer at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), prior to this year’s meeting to discuss growth opportunities and challenges around process development.

Register for the meeting here, to listen to SwRI’s full presentation and network with professionals working in the field. SwRI’s talk will take place on Monday, June 1st from 3:50-4:05 EDT.

What are the areas of process development where we see the most potential for growth?

With the increased focus on environmental sustainability, the landscape of future refinery and petrochemical feedstocks is evolving. The industry is being challenged to provide solutions for plastic-waste reduction and reuse of waste, and chemical processes will need to be developed to utilize renewable feed sources derived from recycled plastics, carbon dioxide, biomass, municipal solid waste, and other unconventional sources.

In addition, refineries are looking to the future and how they might be retrofitted to produce chemicals or alternatives to conventional liquid fuels. At SwRI, we anticipate that these are growing areas of process development and are prepared to leverage our existing equipment and operations expertise in processing unconventional feedstocks to facilitate innovation. 

What is SwRI’s approach to process development and how does it fit into the chemical process industries?

SwRI has experience developing a wide range of processes for the chemical industry. We have many existing unit operations, such as fluidized beds, FCC-analogs, high-temperature reactors, and fixed-bed systems, which have been used for proof-of-concept studies and larger-scale process demonstrations. By providing the capital equipment or building up client specific pilot units, SwRI uses our operations expertise in process scale-up to help our clients identify and mitigate scale-up risks while developing novel processes. 

Can you give us a preview of SwRI’s presentation at PDS?

SwRI will be sharing our perspective on process development for robust and flexible processes, which will highlight internal case studies that we have from our experience as a developer and operator of process equipment. We have been involved with helping develop several technologies from concept through commercial demonstration scale. As an independent organization, we do not disclose client proprietary information, however, the lessons learned from designing, building, and operating processes for pilot plant operations are consistent for most chemical and petroleum process development projects. 

Join us at the virtual Process Development Symposium on Monday, June 1, 2020 from 3:50-4:05 EDT to learn more! 

Hsiang Yee Hoekstra

Hsiang Yee Hoekstra is a senior research engineer at Southwest Research Institute with more than 10 years of experience in chemical process development and process engineering, ranging from hydroprocessing and distillation to pyrolysis.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by SwRI and reflects their views, opinions, and insights.