Using Simulation and Digitalization for Modular Process Intensification | AIChE

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Using Simulation and Digitalization for Modular Process Intensification


These tools enable engineers to create a digital twin of a process, which can be key to developing new technologies and testing them virtually at a rapid pace.

The chemical process industries (CPI) have been built upon two fundamental tenets: economies of scale and unit operations (1). Traditional chemical processing takes advantage of economies of scale by building large plants, which make better use of capital and resources. And, the processing steps are grouped into unit operations, which are combined like building blocks to design and build plants.

Recently, these tenets have been challenged by smaller plants that combine more than one function in a single piece of equipment — i.e., process intensification (PI) — and by the modularization of processing units. To exploit the capital, resource, safety, environmental, and other benefits of PI and modularization, engineers need to develop and test technologies at a rapid pace. Digitalization and simulation are key tools for virtually developing and testing intensified technologies.

Digitalization provides a new way of creating, sharing, storing, and analyzing data that enables an integrated engineering approach and eliminates the “silos” typical in many organizations. Simulation can play an important role in the creation of data, supplementing traditional data creation and collection via experimental methods.

This article demonstrates how these tools help achieve the broader goals of PI.

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