(177a) A Novel and Systematic Method for Process Intensification
In this work, we propose a unified process synthesis and intensification approach that leverages on an original representation of the flowsheet superstructure. Unlike a classical flowsheet superstructure which encompasses all feasible sequences of unit operations (e.g., reactors, separators, movers, etc.), our proposed superstructure is an ensemble of building blocks, where each block represents a unit use of a material and nexus between the blocks are achieved by intra-block mass and energy transfer. An intensified unit is realized by selecting and assembling multiple neighboring blocks with different functionalities. While reaction, mixing, heating and cooling are achieved within the block, separation related phenomena (e.g., phase separation, phase-contact, etc.,) are achieved via the boundaries between two neighboring blocks. This enables to include many intensification alternatives, including divided wall column distillation, reactive distillation, reactive absorption and membrane reactor, within the same superstructure without any a priori postulation.
The overall process intensification model is formulated as a single mixed-integer nonlinear optimization (MINLP) problem and is solved to optimality. Through a range of applications, we demonstrate that the proposed intensification method is capable of generating innovative and intensified configurations and obtaining optimal process conditions for given feed and product specifications.
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