(77c) Using Dimensional Analysis to Commercialize Products and Processes

Worstell, J. H. - Presenter, Worstell and Worstell, Consultants

The key to successful product commercialization is successful process scaleup.  Originally, in the chemical process industry (CPI), scaleup meant building successively larger blackboxes; i.e., pilot plants, into which inputs went and products emeged.  Then, with the advent of analog and finally digital computers, the hope arose of turning scaleup into an exercise involving the numerical solution of the pertinent conservation laws.  Chemical engineers have pursued this calculational effort since the mid-1960's in order to reduce the size and number of blackboxes between product conceptualization and product commercialization.  The push since the mid-1980's for inherently safe pilot plants has also contributed to the CPI's effort to reduce the number and size of blackboxes built during a given product commercialization.  Unfortunately, the mathematical equations describing most chemical processes are inordinately complex and difficult to solve, even numerically.  Thus, chemical engineers need to develop new methods for scaling products and processes from conceptualization to commercialization.  This presentation describes and discusses using Dimensional Analysis to reduce the number and size of pilot plants built during such a commercialization and it discusses how Dimensional Analysis can reduce the size and scope of the experimental program done in a pilot plant.