(118f) Building Block-Based Design and Intensification of Chemical Processes
In this work, we will demonstrate the benefits of building block-based approach for systematic process intensification on several large-scale design problems and ask whether intensification can break-through the current barriers and lead to novel designs which are more sustainable and, at the same time, more economic compared to their non-intensified counterparts. We first use either an existing flowsheet or generate one through building block superstructure. Following the generation of the base-case design, we utilize the building block-based phenomena representation and corresponding MINLP model with rate-based/equilibrium formulations to describe mass/heat transfer and search for intensified solutions. Here, we also consider simultaneous heat integration strategies that can enhance the base-case and also provide more energy-efficient intensification pathways. We will demonstrate this design and intensification framework through several case studies including an example on commercial grade purity ethylene glycol production. Through the proposed methodology, we found several intensified solutions that use 40-60% less number of equipment than the base-case while achieving the same process target. These intensified flowsheet alternatives feature heat integrated reactive/non-reactive distillation equipment, reactive dividing wall columns, etc., and provide significant savings in capital investment. Furthermore, we also found that, although, intensification results in loss of degrees of freedom in control , it adds to design flexibility in terms of sustainability. Intensification enables this by substantial decrease in the lowest emissions possible from the process with significantly less economic trade-off compared to the non-intensified base-case. This leads to more flexibility in the conceptual design stage for sustainability considerations.
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