(500c) Process Design Frameworks for Cost-Effective Small-Scale Processes

Arora, A., Texas A&M University
Li, J., Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Zantye, M., Texas A&M University
Hasan, M. M. F., Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
With soaring demands for energy, chemicals and commodity products, there is a substantial push for monetization and utilization of unconventional feedstocks such as associated shale gas, biogas, landfill gas and tight gas. However, such unconventional natural gas feedstocks pose several midstream and downstream challenges including sparsity in geographical distribution, variable and uncertain availability, and poor feedstock quality. The aforementioned challenges render the traditional stick-built chemical facilities ineffective for widescale utilization of unconventional feedstocks. On the other hand, small-scale and modular chemical processes are well-suited for such applications due to mobility, modularity, and feedstock- and market-flexibility. However, the current small-scale designs suffer from poor economies of scale thereby preventing their widescale deployment.

In this work, we propose new design targets for small-scale technologies which are significantly less capitally-intensive compared to current designs. To this end, we develop three different methodologies which can work in tandem for achieving the proposed design targets for reducing overall capital intensity [1,2]. The methodologies are as follows: (i) functionality-based concurrent design, (ii) dynamic process intensification and (iii) agile and flexible chemical productions. The functionality-based concurrent design methodology departs from traditional design of individual plants in isolation, and instead incorporates simultaneous design and manufacturing of multiple small-scale processes. From manufacturing standpoint, simultaneous design is advantageous as economies of numbers can be leveraged via standardized equipment design for multiple processes. Secondly, we use the reaction-adsorption principles rooted in dynamic process intensification to obtain more compact, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable intensified processes. Lastly, we use flexible manufacturing processing trains to leverage temporal variabilities typical in feedstock availability and quality; and product demand and price. The advantages offered by the proposed design protocols are demonstrated through a variety of case studies fundamental to midstream- and downstream-processing of unconventional natural gas.


[1] A. Arora, J. Li, M.S. Zantye, M.M.F. Hasan, Process Design Frameworks for Economic Utilization of Small-scale and Unconventional Feedstocks, Found. Comput. Process Des. Accepted (2019).

[2] A. Arora, J. Li, M.S. Zantye, M.M.F. Hasan, Functionality-based Design Framework for Reducing Capital Intensity of Small-scale, Modular Processes, Submitted. (2019).