Efficient Plant May 2019 - 17

feature | pilot plants

equipment and figure out how to lower the
production costs for whatever the pilot plant is
producing. Here are several examples:
 Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines,
IL (gti.energy)-a non-profit organization
supported by the U.S. Department of Energy,
Washington (energy.gov)-engineered and
fabricated a pilot-plant system that tests the
process of carbon dioxide removal from flue
gas at coal-based power plants.
During the front-end engineering (FEE)
process, it was discovered that the second stage
of the process (recovery and regeneration of
the CO2) could not be accomplished through
the proposed membrane process. Instead, a
more traditional thermodynamic separation
process was implemented, which required
changes to the process-flow diagram.
The pilot project delivered a scalable process
system for testing CO2 removal technology
and avoided unnecessary delays through flexibility and engineering experience. It produced
faster and safer skid fabrication and installation
due to modular design and off-site fabrication.
 Argo Genesis Chemical LLC is an
agribusiness company that took a newly
formulated asphalt additive and scaled it to a
pilot-plant level of production. A two-phase

MAY 2019

batch-reaction-to-distillation processing plant
was designed and fabricated. (Argo Genesis is
a sister plant of Seneca Petroleum Co., Crestwood, IL. The two businesses are members of
the Seneca Companies, headquartered in Des
Moines (senacoco.com).
The pilot module for Argo Genesis represents an investment in commercializing
biopolymer technology. The process scale-up
was simulated with the help of Aspen Plus
software. Proper demonstration-plant function
was ensured by simulation before mechanical
design and skid fabrication began. To reduce
safety concerns and the cost of designing an
indoor hazardous process, the modular plant
was designed for an outdoor installation. The
software is produced by Aspen Technology
Inc., Bedford, MA (aspentech.com).
New biopolymer formulations were
produced in 32 working hours, significantly
speeding up the development process and creating a biopolymer demonstration plant that is
the first of its kind. There is now a flexible process, allowing the testing of multiple formulas
and proving functional for commercialization
at a demonstration-plant scale.
 EPIC Systems used the client-provided
sequence of operations to build a modular
chemical pilot plant. Based on a 3D model,
the pilot plant was able to fit in the required
small footprint. A highly corrosive acid was
the main component of the system.
To meet the client's industrial-grade
requirements, a variety of atypical materials
was used to fabricate the pilot plant. Hastelloy- and Teflon-lined lines and other piping
specifications were used throughout, along
with fiberglass tanks. PVC- and Teflon-lined
piping required custom-built flanges due
to tight tolerance specifications. The highly
corrosive nature of the material, combined
with the low-flow rate, demanded installation of unique flow meters.
The pilot system required measurement at
many instrumentation points, including flow,
temperature, pressure, and chemical level in

the tanks. A bubbler system was installed to
allow easier and constant measurement of the
liquid level. Compressed air was released into
the bottom of tanks and, based on the resulting
level, the liquid level was calculated.
This pilot plant was the intermediate step
before a large industrial, international process
plant was built for this technology. The many
sampling and instrumentation points allowed
the company to collect the necessary data for a
larger industrial-scale operation.
 An automotive-chemicals company
developed a custom pilot plant that produces
a petroleum additive. The company upgraded its system to an automated operation,
featuring custom formulation capabilities for
internal testing and end-customer formulation flexibility. Production was increased 60%
through a customized automation-integration
plan, new batch-management software, and
an engineered approach to process scale-up.
Moving from manual to automated batching
improved consistency of batches between runs,
with better tracking of process parameters.
Using the distributed-control system DeltaV,
the automation software enables users to
quickly gain access to recipe management and
data collection running throughout the plant.
DeltaV is a product of Emerson, St. Louis
(emerson.com).
"This plant improves our client's ability
to provide custom formulations to their
customers and increase internal testing of
new formulations," said project manager
Matt Benz. "Higher production rates mean
more product is run through the system in
a day. A broader temperature range and key
equipment updates drastically improved
system efficiency. The range of products
they are able to run through this one pilot
skid increased greatly." EP
Michelle Segrest is president of Navigate Content
Inc., Gulf Shores, AL, and specializes in creating
content for the processing industries. Contact her
at michelle@navigatecontent.com.
EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM |

17


http://www.senacoco.com http://www.aspentech.com http://www.emerson.com http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Efficient Plant May 2019

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