Efficient Plant May 2019 - 16

feature | pilot plants
A chemical pilot plant scaled-up a proprietary ion exchange process for a prominent agricultural
chemicals company.

to predict how a full-scale commercial process
will actually behave."
While some issues can be addressed in
simulations, the physical version that runs in
the real world will often still behave differently
than the simulations predict. "Modeling every
factor takes time and may be too complex,"
Schott noted. "The realities of physical-system
layout and equipment constraints also play a
large role in pilot-plant design. Non-uniform
concentration gradients can cause lessthan-ideal behavior and can invalidate some
assumptions."
Many pilot plants are built to study catalysts
and catalytic processes, in which one chemical
compound or biological organism is transformed into another. "Catalyst performance
tests are carried out in the pilot plant to determine yield and selectivity data, and the lifetime
of the catalyst is measured under a variety of
operating conditions," Edwards added.

TRENDS
Pilot plants have been around for decades, but
the ways they are built and how their process
technologies are gauged for feasibility have
changed significantly over time.
Among the latest trends are those associated with modular design, which make
it easier and quicker to upscale equipment
and ship it anywhere, regardless of location.
"The offsite construction of modular pilot
plants can shorten timelines by as much
as 40%, especially on projects with other
site work that needs to happen," Schott
explained.
Modular design offers a number of distinct
advantages for most pilot-plant projects,
including:
 Pilot modules are constructed in ideal shop
conditions, indoors, which leads to better
quality and faster completion times.
 Fabrication, assembly, and testing of the

16

| EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

new system will not disrupt any current
operations since it is built off-site. This also
provides a layer of discretion.
 Off-site construction is also a great advantage when plant upgrades are simultaneously
occurring. On-site improvements can be
made in parallel with system construction,
speeding up the entire project timeline.
 Components, layout, and system
arrangement are simplified and organized
by pilot-plant design experts, reducing overall
construction costs, space requirements, and
required plant upgrades.
When pilot plants first began to emerge, a
stick-build process was used. "These projects
were built piece by piece at a certain location,"
Schott explained. "The single biggest reason
customers now modularize is because of
schedule compression. In a traditional construction, everything is sequential. Until a fullscale manufacturing facility is built, you can't
put in the first piece of process equipment.
With modularization, you bring construction
into parallel with the field work. The moment
the building is constructed, trucks are ready
to deliver fully assembled and tested process
systems. It shaves literally weeks or months off
the process schedule."
Another important pilot-plant trend has
been made possible through the development of digital-twin technology. Companies
such as the chemical giant DuPont have
seen safety, environmental, and productivity
improvements by creating digital twins of
manufacturing processes and using them
for pilot-plant fabrication.
"Digital twins ensure fewer mistakes on
implementation because engineers can visually see what's going to happen," said Tracy
Clarke-Pringle, Ph.D, a process modeling
and control consultant for DuPont. "For
many processes, it is impossible to think
through all the consequences of a change,"

she explained. "A digital twin doesn't need
to be perfect to be useful, and it doesn't take
years to develop useful models, with the
right tools."
Clark-Pringle emphasized the incredible
amount of learning that occurs simply by
developing a digital twin. "This is often
underestimated, and a hidden value of the
twin," she said. "As sites experience more
turnover with operators, digital twins provide the gold standard for effective training.
There is no other way for inexperienced
operators to see and feel what emergency
situations are like. By definition, these situations occur very rarely. You do not want
their first experience with an emergency to
be during the emergency itself. This is why
pilots use flight simulators. The chemical
industry needs to be better about training
their operators in the same way."

EXAMPLES
According to experts, pilot plants can be used
to produce usable product, start building a
market, and convince investors of long-term
viability. While the process technologies are
often innovative or new for their industry,
the idea of a pilot plant is to test commercial

MAY 2019


http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Efficient Plant May 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Efficient Plant May 2019

Efficient Plant May 2019 - Cover1
Efficient Plant May 2019 - Cover2
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 1
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 2
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 3
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 4
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 5
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 6
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 7
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 8
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 9
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 10
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 11
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 12
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 13
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 14
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 15
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 16
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 17
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 18
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 19
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 20
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 21
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 22
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 23
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 24
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 25
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 26
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 27
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 28
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 29
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 30
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 31
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 32
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 33
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 34
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 35
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 36
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 37
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 38
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 39
Efficient Plant May 2019 - 40
Efficient Plant May 2019 - Cover3
Efficient Plant May 2019 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/efficient-plant-june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epapril2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmarch2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjanfeb2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjulyaug2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjune2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmay2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epapril2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmarch2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epfeb2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjan2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epnovdec2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epseptoct2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmay2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epapril2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmarch2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epfebruary2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjanuary2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epdecember2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epnovember2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epoctober2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epseptember2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epaugust2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/0818schneider
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjuly2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjune2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmay2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epapril2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epmarch2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epfebruary2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epjanuary2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epdecember2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epnovember2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/epoctober2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtsept2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtaugust2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtjuly2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtjune2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtmay2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtapril2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtmarch2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtfebruary2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtjanuary2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtdecember2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtnovember2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtoctober2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtseptember2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtaugust2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtjuly2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtjune2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtmay2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtapril2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtmarch2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtfebruary2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtjanuary2016
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtdecember2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtnovember2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtoctober2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/mtseptember2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTAugust2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTJuly2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTJune2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/M
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/0415endress
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTApril2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTMarch2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTFebruary2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTJanuary2015
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTDecember2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTNovember2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTOctober2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTSeptember2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTAugust2014
https://www.nxtbook.com/atp/MaintenanceTechnology/MTJuly2014
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com