(558ao) Systematic Process Intensification of Refinery Processes Using Building Blocks

Ravindran, A., Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Li, J., Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Demirel, S. E., Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Hasan, M. M. F., Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Process intensification refers to any chemical engineering development that leads to smaller, cleaner, safer and more energy efficient technologies [1]. Recently, an optimization-based method using building block superstructure was proposed to provide a systematic methodology for process intensification by using fundamental phenomena-based blocks instead of the traditional unit operation based design paradigm [2-3]. This method can yield non-intuitive flowsheets while considering different mass and energy integration alternatives, without a priori postulation of the processing steps and the connectivity between them. The manifold benefits of this method were demonstrated with regard to systematic process intensification [3-5], synthesis and integration [6-7].

In this work, this design and intensification approach will be extended for crude refining and petrochemical applications. We seek the possibilities for retrofit of existing process systems; as well as attempt to propose new designs by incorporating phenomena-based intensification.

There has been an increasing strain on refineries for meeting the rising market demand whilst dealing with high costs of compliance to align with the environmental regulations. This calls for the creation of new conceptual design methods which are capable of suggesting innovative and more sustainable refining pathways that are still economically profitable. Here, the building block superstructure describing several refining operations is formulated as a mixed-integer-non-linear programming (MINLP) problem and focus is given on applying the block-based approach towards the systematic synthesis of processing networks for the production of light olefins, such as propylene and ethylene, featuring high yield, energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness. A special focus is given into the methods for propylene production, as it is often obtained as a by-product of ethylene production where the yield is often not sufficient to meet the rising demands of the industry [8-9]. The proposed framework is also general in that it can be used to improve the efficiency of production of other refinery products, for example, aromatics, synthesis gas, organochlorides, etc. We will demonstrate the applicability of the proposed approach by focusing on the intensification of these refinery operations and provide more sustainable intensified process alternatives.


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