(380f) A Systematic Methodology to Synthesize and Design Processes, Incorporating Process Intensification

The chemical, biochemical and pharmaceutical industries produce products that are essential for modern society. Nevertheless they are now facing considerable challenges because of economic, societal and environmental concerns and significant improvements are needed in their processes in order that the processes are sustainable. One way to achieve this is through process intensification. Process intensification (PI) is a process (design) strategy which focuses on improvements to the whole process through integration of phenomena, functions and/or operations. PI can be achieved through adding and enhancing a phenomenon within a function and/or operation for improved equipment design. In addition a further option to achieve PI is by adding/enhancing an operation through improved use of the corresponding phenomena/functions. PI aims to benefit processes without sacrificing product quality by increasing efficiency, reducing energy consumption, costs, volume, and waste and improving safety.

In recent years, with the exception of reactive distillation, many intensified processes and/or operations have been proposed but industrial implementation of them is still rare. Some of the reasons are that the currently available methods for design and/or synthesis for process intensification are neither simple nor systematic. They are also time consuming and lack knowledge on intensified processes that would help in the synthesis/design step. An appropriate systematic methodology for selection and development of intensified processes/units is therefore needed to make advances in this area and to promote and encourage industrial implementation of PI. The methodology should be capable of deciding when an intensified process unit would be advantageous to achieve the process specifications and, based on these, generate feasible intensified process alternatives, from which the optimal could be found.

In this presentation a systematic methodology for synthesis/design for process intensification will be presented. This methodology consists of six steps. Step 1: The need for PI is defined together with the criteria for evaluation of alternatives. Step 2: A knowledge base (that has been developed) of information on various aspects of PI is consulted to define/select the target phenomena, functions and/or operations for PI. Step 3: The need for models is established because data is usually incomplete and together with the knowledge base and model library (being developed) the necessary models are collected. Step 4: A synthesis/design algorithm is employed to generate intensified process alternatives using combination rules for process intensification. Step 5: The intensified process alternatives are verified for match of process specifications and evaluated with respect to the criteria established in step 1. The evaluation criteria are usually a subset of intrinsic intensified metrics as well as economic, environmental and societal indicators. In this step, a selection of the most promising PI candidates is made. Step 6: Optimization of the most promising candidates is performed to obtain the optimal designed PI. The implementation of a systematic methodology in a computer aided framework requires algorithms, methods as well as a set of tools.

In this paper the application of the systematic methodology through the whole computer-aided framework will be described and highlighted with selected examples together with focus on some of the methods and tools developed for it.