Page 1

December 2009

HeatTransfer Fluids Page 32 13

KirKPatricK award • Heat-transfer fluids • retrieving Plant-design data

Page 17

Building A Better Dryer Screeners Target Efficiency

vol. 116 no. 13 december 2009

Facts At Your Fingertips: Control Valves

Focus on Level Measurement And Control

Millichannel Reactors

Retrieving Plant-Design Data

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Revolutionary design eliminates 4 bulk bag unloading problems

Convey pneumatically to/from multiple discharge/inlet points

Cinch spouts concentrically with POWER-CINCHER® flow control valve*

Eliminate dust during disconnect and bag collapse with BAG-VAC® system

Unlike opposing bars that pinch the spout of partially empty bags from two sides, the POWER-CINCHER® flow control valve* cinches the spout concentrically—on a horizontal axis for easier tie-offs and greater flow control, and vertically in a tight zigzag pattern to prevent leaks. In addition, it resists jamming, breaking and leaking, and allows full-open discharge from bag spouts of all popular diameters. USDA Dairy Accepted.

The BAG-VAC® system vacuums displaced air and dust from the receiving vessel and returns clean air to the plant. The vacuum also causes empty bags to collapse dust-free prior to disconnect, eliminating the dust emitted during manual flattening of empty bags. With optional double-wall telescoping tube, it vacuums any particles dropped from spout creases during disconnect, while eliminating awkward access ports.

Eliminate dust during hook-up/discharge with SPOUT-LOCK® clamp ring*

Prevent dead spots and promote flow with TELE-TUBE® telescoping tube*

The SPOUT-LOCK® clamp ring* creates a high-integrity, sealed connection between the clean side of the bag spout and the clean side of the telescoping tube. This prevents contamination of the product, while eliminating the plant contamination that occurs when falling material rapidly displaces air and dust. It also stretches the spout downward in combination with the TELE-TUBE® telescoping tube* (at right).

Models for hoist and trolley loading (shown) and forklift loading, available with flexible screw conveyor (shown), pneumatic conveying system, outlets to suit any process, and integrated scale system for loss-of-weight batching directly from bags.

The TELE-TUBE® telescoping tube* pneumatically raises the SPOUT-LOCK® clamp ring* (at left) for connection to the bag spout, then allows it to lower, applying continual downward tension. As a result, the spout is kept taut at all times, preventing excess spout material from bulging outward (creating dead spots) or falling inward (creating flow restrictions). Works in unison with FLOW-FLEXER™ bag activators to promote flow.

Patented advances make other designs obsolete Flexicon innovations boost the productivity, safety, and cleanliness of your bulk bag unloading operations far beyond the limits of other designs. And unlike Flexicon’s previous unloaders, widely copied by competitors, these new generation machines are based on advances that are patented or patent pending.

FLEXICON CORPORATION 2400 Emrick Blvd, Bethlehem, PA 18020-8006 USA Tel: 1 888 FLEXICON • (1 888 353 9426) Tel: 1 610 814 2400 • Fax: 1 610 814 0600 E-mail:

Flexicon also offers a wide range of other mechanical process equipment—as well as weigh batching and blending stations—as individual units or engineered, automated systems integrated with your new or existing process—constructed and finished to industrial, food, dairy and pharmaceutical standards.


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Flexicon pneumatic conveying systems transport a broad range of bulk materials over short or long distances between single or multiple inlet and discharge points in small to high capacities. Offered in both positive pressure or vacuum configurations, from single-point “up-andin” installations to mobile units to cross-plant systems complete with rotary airlock valves, pick-up adapters, filter receivers, cyclone separators, fill/pass valves, hand-held pick-up wands, silos, day bins and more. Available designed, constructed and finished to industrial and sanitary standards.

Convey free- and non-free-flowing materials Convey free-flowing and non-free-flowing bulk solids ranging from large pellets to sub-micron powders— including materials that can fluidize, degrade, pack, cake, smear, seize or plug in other conveyors—with no separation of blended products. Units convey vertically, horizontally, or at any angle—through small openings in walls or ceilings—around, over, or MEETS 3-A SANITARY under obstructions. The STANDARDS only moving part contacting material is a rugged flexible screw, increasing reliability and cutting maintenance. Enclosed conveyor tube prevents contamination of product and plant environment. Cleans quickly, easily. Individual conveyors available as well as plant-wide systems with automated controls.

Connect bulk bags quickly, easily, safely at floor level New SWING-DOWN™bulk bag filler* lowers and pivots the fill head, stopping it in a vertically-oriented position that places the bag inlet spout inflatable connection, inflator button, and four bag loop latches within one arm's length of an operator standing on the plant floor, allowing safe, rapid bag connections. Eliminates danger of stepping onto and over roller conveyors to access rear bag hooks and spout connection collars, standing on the conveyor with head and arms inserted beneath operational fill head components, and straining to pull bag spouts upward over inflatable collars while reaching for bag inflator buttons. Available to industrial, food, dairy and pharmaceutical standards with numerous performance enhancements.

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*Patent(s) granted and/or pending. ©2005 Flexicon Corporation. Flexicon Corporation has registrations and pending applications for the trademark FLEXICON throughout the world.



Circle 04 on p. 62 or go to

Circle 05 on p. 62 or go to

December 2009

In ThIs Issue

Volume 116, no. 13 Commentary

5 Editor’s Page Changing times present different opportunities The economic crises of this past year have accelerated changes in the CPI. Looking forward, chemical businesses are focusing on what are expected to be key economic drivers — one of which is innovation Cover story

17 Cover Story 40th Kirkpatrick Award Announced Seven companies are honored with the announcement of this year's Kirkpatrick Award winners. This biennial prize, bestowed since the 1930s, recognizes the most noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialized anywhere in the world during 2007 and 2008



Letters . . . . . . . . . . . 6

11 Chementator ”All-in-one” fluegas scrubber cleans up sulfur and particulate matter; Non-invasive probe measures corrosion inside boiler water tubes in realtime; Higher yields and lower cost are expected for this biomass-to-ethanol process; The commercial debut for a process that makes “natural” gas from coal; Onsite incineration of sewage sludge to be demonstrated; Using the sun to decontaminate wastewater; and more

23 Newsfront Screeners Target Efficiency Screening system manufacturers look to squeeze more out of their equipment

25 Newsfront Building A Better Dryer Although they are notorious energy hogs, drying systems can be made more efficient engineering

29 Facts At Your Fingertips Control Valves This one-page guide outlines how installed gain graphs are prepared and used

32 Feature Report Maximizing HeatTransfer Fluid Longevity Proper selection, monitoring and maintenance can protect fluids from damage due to thermal degradation, oxidation and contamination

40 Feature Report Smooth Your Retrieval of Plant-Design Data Even after construction and startup, plant design data are needed for operations, maintenance and revamps. But working with a plethora of formats and platforms introduces its own set of challenges

44 Engineering Practice Millichannel Reactors — A Practical Middle Ground for Production Reactors with millimeterscale dimensions provide mixing, heat transfer and other advantages over devices with larger dimensions, while boasting increased robustness compared to microdevices. Here are tips to consider for using them

Calendar . . . . . . . . 8, 9 Who’s Who . . . . . . . 30

eqUipment & serviCes

28D-1 New Products & Services (Domestic Edition) Avoid kinking on tight turns with this tubing; Measure oxygen drift-free with this transmitter; A magnet operates on this rupture-disc sensor; These regulators suppress internal cylinder forces for safety; Monitor hydrogen sulfide in water with these sensors; A purging compound effective for biodegradeable resins; and more

Reader Service page . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Economic Indicators . . . . . 63, 64 advertisers Literature Review . . 54 Classified Advertising . . . . .56–60 Advertiser Index . . . 61

28D-1 New Products & Services (International Edition) Extend level measurement with this flexible probe; Do more with this dewpoint transmitter; A new motorized actuator for linear valves; Aggressive media are not a problem for this dosing system; Keep flange leaks from spraying with this shield; The latest in shaft-alignment systems is simple to use; A new exchange resin for industrial water treatment; and more

51 Focus Level Measurement And Control Accurate level measurement in steam applications; This pump protection switch can be used in a variety of situations; An easy way to measure level is introduced; Measure levels in challenging environments; A radar level transmitter that is economical; Measure submersed solids under water; A hand-held device to measure levels in non-metallic containers; Detect and control interfaces with this switch; and more

Coming in JanUary Look for: Feature Reports on Capital Equipment Procurement; and Water Treatment and Energy Conservation; Engineering Practice articles on Pressure Relief During an External Fire; and Recommended Fluid Velocities; A Focus on Weighing; News articles on Scrubbers; Catalysts; and the Personal Achievement Award; Facts at Your Fingertips on Pressure Measurement; and more Cover photo: Lucite International

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


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Changing times present different opportunities


ike it or not, 2009 will go down as a year when massive structural change began in the chemicals business. We are far from feeling the full effects of the upheaval, but there is a sense of revolution in the air that will cause lasting change for chemical engineers everywhere. Historically, the financial crisis, and the global recession that followed it, will be seen as accelerators of changes that were already waiting to happen. In 2009 the world realized that China and India were in the driver’s seat for determining the rate of future economic growth. It was the year that the Middle East saw the true dawn of its predominance in petrochemical production based on low-cost feedstock, and South America began to rise in industrial prominence. It was also the year when North Americans and Europeans realized that only game-changing innovation — especially in the fuels and energy sectors — was the route to lasting success for the future. Hopefully, it was not the year that protectionism started to gain a foothold. But there are signs that governments will try to protect their do domestic industries and their populations by employing covert protection protectionism, dressed up as environmental legislation to manipulate markets. In short, the last 12 months have been full of challenges. So what is the outlook and where are the opportunities? The manufacture of basic chemicals and plastics will shift eastward to an axis defined by the Mid Middle East at one end and China at the other. These regions are going to need more practiced and skilled engineers. First opportunity: Go East, young engineer! China is going to be the new magnetic consumer market — if its economy does not overheat in the short term, but certainly in the long term — replacing the U.S. as the place to sell almost everything and anything. However, the Chinese consumer is unlikely to mimic the U.S. consumer — it is simply not part of the Chinese culture to over-extend through easy bor borrowing. Second opportunity: Learn about China and its consumers’ needs. A shift to making chemical specialties in North America and Europe will happen sooner than previously expected. An export-led petrochemi petrochemical recovery on the U.S. Gulf Coast seems unlikely in the face of new Mid Middle Eastern and Latin American capacities. Specialty markets, especially anything relating to food-and-water supply, and health-and-personal care, will be the safe haven for many U.S. chemical companies. Third op opportunity: Investigate specialty chemicals. The other safe haven is innovation, where companies can obtain the funding to back the right projects. In short, North America and Europe will rely on chemical engineers to determine how they can build the new economies of the third millennium. More than anything, that means how we move from a world that depends on fossil fuels to one dependent on other technologies, and how we deal with removing greenhouse gases from our production processes. That means more biotechnology breakthroughs and more sustainable processes. Fourth opportunity: Go greener. For chemical engineers, 2009 brought change — with both great opportunities and much uncertainty. Change can be unsettling, but we should all hang on to this guiding principle — that the world’s problems, like the housing and feeding of six billion people, issues of sustainability and global warming, can only be solved by communities like the one that reads this magazine. We hold the solutions to the crises that confront the world in the decades ahead. ■ John Pearson, Divisional President ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com deCember 2009


Letters Spontaneous combustion

I enjoyed your advisory piece for chemical engineers — old and young: “Don’t wait to react” (CE, October, p. 5). Two weeks ago I gave a presentation on spontaneous combustion at a meeting of mulch facility operators. Of over 100 conference attendees, only one raised his hand when I asked how many operators had never had a problem with spontaneous combustion! I really enjoy the Chementator section of Chemical Engineering. Richard Buggeln, PhD Manager, Environmental Programs, Center for Industrial Services, University of Tennessee

Help us support ChE education

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Striving to continually advance the chemical engineering profession has been a goal for this magazine since its founding more than 107 years ago. To help cultivate new talent, CE established the annual Chopey Scholarship for Chemical Engineering Excellence in memory of Nicholas (Nick) P. Chopey, our former Editor In Chief. Nick carried many torches at CE including those for the Kirkpatrick and Personal Achievement Award competitions that are held in alternating years. To honor and continue Nick’s valuable and lasting contributions to the chemical engineering profession, CE will match up to $10,000 of all donations for the 2009 scholarship fund that are received prior to June 1, 2010. Donations. Checks should be made out to Scholarship America with “Nicholas P. Chopey Scholarship Program” in the memo area. Please send your donations to the following address prior to June 1, 2010: Nicholas P. Chopey Scholarship Fund Nanette Santiago Chemical Engineering 110 William St., 11th floor New York, NY 10038 Details and qualifications for applicants. The scholarship is a one-time award for current third-year students who are enrolled in a fulltime undergraduate course of study in chemical engineering at one of the following fouryear colleges or universities, which include Mr. Chopey’s alma mater and those of the current editorial staff: University of Virginia University of Kansas SUNY Buffalo Columbia University Polytechnic University The program will utilize standard Scholarship America recipient-selection procedures including the consideration of past academic performance and future potential, leadership and participation in school and community activities, work experience, and statement of career and educational aspirations and goals. Applications must be postmarked by April 1. Guidelines are distributed directly to the chemical engineering department of the qualified schools.

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21st International Organic Process Research & Development. Scientific Update Conferences (East Sussex, U.K.). Phone: +44 (0) 1435 873062; Web: San Diego, Calif. Jan. 20–22 Stem Cells World Congress. Select Biosciences (Shelton, Conn.). Phone: 203-926-1400; Web: South San Francisco, Calif. Jan. 20–21 Lab Automation 2010. Association for Lab Automation (Geneva, Ill.). Phone: 888-733-1252; Web: Palm Springs, Calif. Jan. 23–27 Safety and Selectivity in the Scale-Up of Chemical Reactions. Scientific Update Conferences (East Sussex, U.K.). Phone: +44 (0) 1435 873062; Web: Savannah, Ga. Jan. 25–26 2010 SDA Annual Meeting & Industry Convention. Soap & Detergent Assn. (Washington, D.C.). Phone:

202-347-2900; Web: Orlando, Fla.

Jan. 26–30

IMAC 28th Conference & Expo on Structural Dynamics and Renewable Energy. Society for Experimental Mechanics (Bethel, Conn.). Phone: 203-790-6373; Web: Jacksonville, Fla. Feb. 1–4 2010 Forum on Energy Efficiency in Agriculture. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE; Washington, D.C.). Phone: 202-507-4033; Web: Madison, Wisc. Feb. 7–9 2010 Packaging Conference. The Packaging Conference LLC (Holland, Ohio). Phone: 866-509-6001; Web: Las Vegas, Nev. Feb. 8–10 Informex 2010: The Business of Fine, Specialty and Custom Chemistry. UBM International Media/Informex (Princeton, N.J.). Phone: 609-759-4700; Web: San Francisco, Calif. Feb. 16–19

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Since 1958

AAAS Annual Meeting. American Association for the Advancement of Science (New York, N.Y.). Phone: 202-326-6400; Web: San Diego, Calif. Feb. 18–22 Biophysical Society Annual Meeting and Biophysics Congress. Biophysical Society (Bethesda, Md.). Phone: 301-634-7114; Web: San Francisco, Calif. Feb. 20–24 Scaling from Milligrams to 1–2 kg. Scientific Update Conferences (East Sussex, U.K.). Phone: +44 (0) 1435 873062; Web: San Francisco, Calif. Feb. 22–23


Screening Europe. Select Biosciences (Shelton, Conn.). Phone: 203-926-1400; Web: Barcelona, Spain Feb. 11–12 Analytica 2010: International Trade Fair for Instrumental Analysis, Lab, Technology & Biotechnology. Messe Munchen GmbH (Munich). Phone: +49 (0) 89 949 20651; Web: Munich, Germany March 23–26

Chemical Development & Scale-up in the Fine Chemical and pharmaceutical Industries. Scientific Update Conferences (East Sussex, U.K.). Phone:+44 (0) 1435 873062; Web: Lisbon, Portugal March 2–4 Advances in Synthetic Biology. Select Biosciences (Shelton, Conn.). Phone: 203-926-1400; Web: London March 4–5


2nd International Conference on Drug Discovery & Therapy. Higher Colleges of Technology and Eureka Science (Sharjah, UAE). Phone: +971 6 5571132; Web: Dubai, UAE Feb. 1–4 ChemSpec India 2010: The Fine & Specialty Chemicals Connection. Quart Business Media (Uxbridge, Middlesex, U.K.). Phone: +44 (0) 1737 855 076; Web: Mumbai April 15–16 ■Suzanne Shelley

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‘All-in-one’ fluegas scrubber cleans up sulfur and particulate matter


December 2009

Cleaned fluegas to atmosphere

multi-stage wet scrubber that combines the removal of sulfur, hydrogen chloride, sulfuric acid mist (SAM) and particulate matter (PM) in a single unit has reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by an average of 99.7% in its first large-scale commercial installation on a coal/oil-fired swing boiler. PM emissions were reduced to 0.005 grains/ dscf (dry standard cubic feet; 12.5 mg/Nm3), according to Kimmo Peltonen, a product manager with Andritz, Inc. (Roswell, Ga.;, who spoke at the recent TAPPI Engineering, Pulping and Environmental Conference in Memphis, Tenn. Andritz markets the technology together with EnviroCare International (American Canyon, Calif.; The installation is on a 420,000-lb/h boiler at a large pulp-and-paper mill. Previously, smaller systems had been installed in rotary kilns and municipal sludge incinerators, says Peltonen. In the first stage of the process (flowsheet), large particles are removed from hot fluegas by an atomizedwater-spray quench. From the quench, the stream enters the lower half of a scrubberseparator vessel — a vertical, cylindrical unit, where the upflowing gas is scrubbed by a countercurrent water stream. The gas flows up through a Venturi stage that consists of about 40 parallel Venturi tubes, each preceded by a high-pressure liquid atomizer. The combination of the Venturis with finely atomized sprays causes multiple collisions between the droplets and fine particles left in the gas, resulting

Mist eliminator

Preventing droplet carry over

Makeup water Caustic

Tray 2 “Flushing” removal of dirty mist

Fluegas from boiler

True venturi tubes

Condensation and agglomeration of H2SO4, fumes and submicron PM Removal of any remaining SO2


Removal of coarse PM (particulate matter) and some SO2 and HCl

Tray 1

Removal of SO2 & HCl, and all PM>1 micron

Venturi stage pumps inlet & throat pumps Quench recirculation tank

Quench pumps

Tray pumps

Venturi stage recirculation tank

Blow down

in high particulate capture as well as acid absorption, says Peltonen. Final cleanup is achieved by a set of dual-orifice mist-elimination trays. Most of the water used in the process is recycled to the Venturi stage after makeup water and caustic have been added. The rest is collected in a sump at the bottom of the scrubber-separator and recycled to the quench section. Dissolved solids concentration is controlled by blowing down a fraction of the recycled water. Peltonen says the installed cost is approximately 50% that of a traditional arrangement of a dry electrostatic precipitator (ESP) followed by a wet scrubber or wet ESP. Chemical costs are minimized by reusing alkali present in the fly ash.

The power of osmosis last month, Statkraft (oslo, norway; opened what is claimed to be the world's first osmotic power plant. although the prototype is very small (designed for 10 kw), the company believes data gained from the pilot study will lead to a commercial-scale unit by 2015. The plant is located along the coast at Tofte, south of oslo. Fresh water flowing into the sea is diverted to a vessel containing a semipermeable membrane (spiral-wound, cellulose acetate) with brine

(Continues on p. 12)

Non-invasive probe measures corrosion inside boiler water tubes in real time


hanges in the rate of corrosion in water tubes have been detected within minutes by an externally mounted monitor developed by the Center for Nuclear Energy Research (CNER, Fredericton, NB, Canada; www. The data were obtained in online tests over the past 18 months on a black liquor recovery boiler at a kraft mill operated by Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. (Saint John, NB). Details were presented at the recent TAPPI Conference (see story above). Note: For more information, circle the 3-digit number on p. 62, or use the website designation.

The monitor operates on the principle of hydrogen effusion. In the corrosion process, two moles of hydrogen atoms are produced for every mole of iron that is dissolved into water, explains Kelly McKeen, a CNER project manager. The atomic H2 migrates through the wall of the steel tube and recombines to form H2 gas, which is captured in CNER’s hydrogen effusion probe (HEP). The HEP measures the rate of H2 pressure increase and converts it to a corrosion rate of millimeters per year.

The HEP consists of a silver cup that is clamped to the outside of the tube, silver tubing, a pressure transducer and a valve. McKeen points out that silver is practically impermeable to H2. The system is operated under vacuum and the valve is automatically opened to allow evacuation of the H2 and to restart a cycle after a predetermined pressure setpoint is reached. McKeen says the main advantage of the HEP over conventional methods, such (Continues on p. 12)

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Concentrated sulfuric acid

C hementato R

Water 1st stage hydrolysis


Higher yields and lower cost are expected for this biomass-to-ethanol process


process that produces 75–85 gal of ethanol per dry ton of mixed cellulosic waste feed will be commercialized by BlueFire Ethanol (Irvine, Calif.; The plant, to be built in Lancaster, Calif., will convert 130 dry ton/d of feed (post-sorted municipal solid waste, including green waste) into 4-million gal/yr (about 12,000 gal/d) of ethanol when it goes into production in the fall of 2010. It will mark the first commercial use of a process developed by Arkenol, Inc. (also of Irvine), although the process has been tested in three pilot plants. The process uses concentrated sulfuric acid as a catalyst to transform cellulose and hemicellulose feedstocks into glucose and xylose (C6 and C5) sugars. The yield is 1.5–3 times those of processes that use a combination of dilute sulfuric acid and enzymes for hydrolysis, says John Cuzens, senior vicepresident of BlueFire and a former principal with Arkenol. Coarsely ground feed is dried to less than 10% moisture, contacted with 75% concentrated acid, and cooked at about 85°C and ambient pressure for under 30 min. The hydrolyzed C6 and C5 sugars and acid are then separated from lignin and other solids, which are used as boiler fuel for process

corrosion inside boiler water tubes

(Continued from p. 15) as weight-loss coupons, ultrasonic measurement and other types of H2 probes is that it provides a realtime, online response. Also, it can be operated at temperatures above 350°C, compared with a maximum of about


Acid reconcentration Dilute sulfuric acid Steam Condensate return



Lignin Solids


Acid recovery

Solution Lime

Water Sugar solution

Continuous fermentation


Chromatographic separation


Yeast recycle Ethanol

steam and plant power. About Distillation and dehydration beer 98% of the acid and 100% of the sugars are recovered in a simulated moving-bed chro- Ethanol product matographic separator. Acid Process is recycled and the sugars are water recycle converted to ethanol by continuous fermentation, using yeast (conver(Continued from p. 12) sion is 100% for C6 sugars and 20% for C5s). The sugars may also be converted to higheron the other side. water from the fresh side passes through value products, using heterotrophic algae, the membrane due to the conbacteria or fungi. centration difference, thereby Cuzens says the key elements of the proincreasing the pressure on the cess are the use of concentrated acid and of brine side. This osmotic preschromatographic separation, which recovers sure — equivalent to a 120-m the acid rather than neutralizing it and discolumn of water (about 12 bar) posing of the waste. The Lancaster plant will — is then used to drive a turhave an operating cost of $1.50–2/gal (not inbine for making electricity. cluding a $1.01/gal tax credit), he says, and a The company estimates the full-scale plant of 50-million gal/yr will have global potential of osmotic power at 1,600 to 1,700 Twh/ an operating cost of below 80¢/gal. 250°C for other H2 probes. The system’s rapid reaction to an increased corrosion rate was proved during a boiler shutdown, when the tubes were drained and cleaned with inhibited hydrochloric acid. McKeen says CNER is now negotiating with a petroleum company to do a test in a refinery.

yr — equivalent to 50% of the eU’s total power production.

Efficient Cl2 production The oxygen-depolarized cathode (oDC) of bayer materialScience (bmS; le-

(Continues on p. 14)

The commercial debut for a process that makes ‘natural’ gas from coal


aldor Topsøe A/S (Lyngby, Denmark; has signed a design contract with an undisclosed client in China for a new plant that will produce substitute natural gas (SNG). When the plant comes on stream in 2011, it will produce close to 180,000 Nm3/h of SNG using Topsøe’s methanation process, called TREMP. The plant will be the first large-scale order for TREMP technology, says general manager Jens Perregaard, New Technologies, Technology Division. The Topsøe high-temperature methanation process (for flowsheet, see CE, 12

February 2007, p. 11) uses coal-derived syngas (H2-to-CO ratio of slightly above 3), which has been passed through a sulfur-tolerant shift and acid-gas removal unit for removing H2S and excess carbon (as CO2). In order to protect the methanation catalyst — Topsøe’s nickelbased MCR — from poisoning, the feed is first passed through a sulfur guard bed to remove traces of sulfur components. Desulfurized feed is then mixed with recycle gas to control the maximum temperature rise and passed to the first methanation reactor, where H2 reacts with CO and CO2 to form CH4.

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

The reaction is performed in a reactor with a very large DT and at the same time with a technology preventing the formation of nickel carbonyl. The DT ensures that heat can efficiently be recovered from the exothermic reaction and used for generating superheated, high-pressure steam. The cooled gas then passes through two or three methanation reactors in series for complete conversion. Products leaving the last reactor are cooled and compressed to meet pipeline specifications. The SNG is typically 94–96 mol.% CH4, with a heating value of 950–978 Btu/scf.

expanded solutions

Honeywell’s field solution portfolio keeps getting bigger and bigger. Reliable and cost-effective, we offer a constantly expanding portfolio of field solutions to satisfy a broad range of your process needs. From analytical sensors and transmitters, to pressure and temperature transmitters, to flow and tank gauging solutions, Honeywell offers many solutions. Honeywell’s collection of field solutions let you tackle any job with ease to improve business performance.

To learn more about Honeywell field solutions, please call 1-877-466-3993 or visit © 2008 Honeywell International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Circle 11 on p. 62 or go to

C hementato R Sewage sludge 4% DM

Onsite incineration of sewage sludge to be demonstrated


ncineration is becoming the only viable method for sewage sludge disposal as landfilling or spreading sludge onto farmland is no longer permitted in some countries. Today, sludge is commonly incinerated in large, centralized incinerators or as an additive in coal-fired power plants or cement kilns. An alternative to these costly and inconvenient options — small, localized incinerators — has been developed by Huber SE (Berching, Germany;, in cooperation with partners in a three-year project supported under the European Commission’s Life program. The new incinerators are based on Huber’s sludge2energy process (flowsheet). Sludge is first pre-dried in a belt dryer to a solids concentration of up to 90% by blowing hot (90°C) air through the belts. The cooled air is reheated with heat recovered from the incinerator and recirculated through the dryer. A slight underpressure is maintained in the dryer to prevent the release of air, vapors and odors. Dried sludge is then


Flue gas Flue cleaning gas



Flue gas

Sludge Off gas 25% DM

Heat recovery

Combustion Flue Dryer Sludge 90% DM gas

Buffer storage

Air Future Ash phosphate

Preheated combustion air

Heat for drying

Hot air

ast month, a photocatalytic water-cleaning system that removes organic and inorganic contaminants that are difficult to breakdown from wastewater was inaugurated at the German Aerospace Center (DLR; Stuttgart; facility in Lampildshausem. The so-called RayWOx system features a new type of solar receiver consisting of glass pipes. Wastewater mixed with an iron salt — the iron ion serving as photocatalyst — and hydrogen peroxide flows through the tubes until the absorbed solar radiation has decomposed the contaminants. In pilot trials, the RayWOx process has been shown to be effective for decontaminating water containing pharmaceutical agents; X-ray contrast media and hormones as well as chlorinated hydrocarbons from contaminated groundwater; harmful substances in exhaust-air scrubbing solutions from textile manufacturing; and toxic materials in municipal wastewater. The system operating at Lampildshausem, developed in collaboration with Hirschmann Laborgeräte GmbH (Eberstadt) and KACO new energy GmbH (Neckarsulm;, has a solar reactor 49-m long and 470-cm wide and can clean about 4,500 14




conveyed to a small furnace. The hot fluegas from the furnace passes through a heat recuperator that transfers the heat to compressed ambient air, which drives a micro gas turbine and electricity generator. Even small systems can produce enough electricity and supply sufficient heat to run the entire process nearly autothermally, says the firm. Formation of oxides of nitrogen are prevented by staged combustion, fluegas recirculation and selective, non-catalytic

reduction. Acid gases (such as SO2 and HCl) are neutralized by lime addition, and remaining organic components are adsorbed by activated carbon. Huber is designing the first sludge2energy demonstration plant for the Bavarian city of Straubing. This first plant will have a capacity to incinerate 2,200 metric tons per year (m.t./yr) of dried solids and will generate approximately 100 kW of electric power. Startup for the plant is planned for the end of 2010.

Using the sun to decontaminate wastewater



L of industrial wastewater, removing of all oxidizable contamination in 2 h (given suitable weather conditions). The demonstration unit is able to completely clean the cooling water from the engine test facilities at the DLR Institute of Space Propulsion, which is contaminated with rocket fuels and their combustion products, such as hydrazine and its derivatives, and nitrite. The hydrazine derivatives are slow to degrade with previously applied ultraviolet (UV) oxidation technology, notes Christian Jung, a scientist at the DLR’s Institute for Technical Thermodynamics. The UV reactors consume large amounts of electrical energy — for powering lamps, and for fast pumping to dissipate waste heat — and UV oxidation typically needs 2–3 times more oxidant (H2O2 and caroate), he adds. In contrast, the oxidant requirement of the ironcatalyzed RayWOx process is close to the theoretical demand, which saves 50–80% of the H2O2 required, he says. Modular construction of the RayWOx technology makes is easy to install and well suited to building systems of any desired size. KACO new energy has commercialized the technology under the RayWOx tradename.

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

(Continued from p. 12) verkusen, germany; www. will be used to produce chlorine on an industrial scale. bmS is in negotiations with Uhde gmbh (Dortmund, germany; www. to build an oDC plant scheduled to start up in 2011. The oCD technology (see CE, February 2001, pp. 31–35) enables electrolysis to be performed at a lower voltage, thereby generating energy savings of up to 30%. bmS has been using this technology to recover Cl2 from hCl, and has been operating the largest hCl electrolysis plant at its site in Shanghai since 2008 (CE, october 2006, p. 16).

Direct polymerization last month, construction on a production plant for thermoplastic methacrylate resin was completed in Shanghai. The facility will mark the commercial debut for the Continuous

(Continues on p. 16)


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Microsoft Dynamics® CRM integrates information from different sources and puts it in one place, at one time, so everyone in your company sees the information needed to make better decisions faster. It’s simple for your sales and support people to use, and it’s ready to fit your company right away. So you can spend less time on service calls and more time building stronger relationships. To learn more about the efficiencies Microsoft Dynamics CRM can create for your business, go to

Circle 12 on p. 62 or go to

C hementato R

A bioleaching process moves closer to commercialization


n February 2009, Talvivaara Mining Company Plc. (Espoo, Finland; www. delivered its first in a series of commercial shipments of metals to Norilsk Nickel Harjavalta refinery in Finland. Talvivaara expanded the crushing circuit and has restarted the metals precipitation process in September of 2009. Talvivaara expects to continue its production ramp-up targeted at eventually achieving up to 50,000 m.t./yr in nickel production in 2012 at the multi-metals ore deposit in Sotkamo, Finland. The operations — consisting of mining, crushing, leaching and metals recovery — utilize a bioleaching process developed in collaboration with several companies and research institutions, including Tampere University of Technology. Bioleaching is said to be more environmentally friendly for extracting metals than traditional smelting because it generates no gaseous emissions and requires less energy. In the process (diagram), the crushed ore is piled on a pad into 8-m-high stacks. Piping at the bottom of the heap supplies aeration to the stacked ore. A leach solution, containing mesophilic and thermophilic bacteria indigenous to the region, is circulated through the stack from the top. As the bacteria oxidize large quantities of pyrrhotite and pyrite, the exothermic reaction elevates the temperature to over 50°C — even when am-

(Continued from p. 14) bient conditions are at –20°C. After the metals are leached from the ore — which takes about 1.5 yr — the metals can be recovered from the pregnant leaching solution by precipitation and filtration. Pilot-scale leaching trials were conducted with 110 m.t. of ore in 2005, followed by a 17,000-m.t. demonstration trial carried out from 2005–2008. The commercial operation will process approximately 15-million m.t./yr of ore.

A Japanese push for bio-ETBE over bioethanol


ast month, Nippon Oil Corp. (Tokyo, Japan; started production bio-ETBE (ethyl tertiary butyl ether), which will be blended into gasoline as an alternative to ethanol as an oxygenate. Nippon Petroleum Refining Co., a subsidiary of Nippon Oil, inaugurated the facility at its Negishi Oil Factory at Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, on October 26. Nippon Oil is planning to mix bio-ETBE with regular gasoline, which will be sold at 1,000 of its service stations in Tokyo. Bio-ETBE is made by the catalytic reaction of bioethanol with iso-butene derived from the company’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit. Nippon Oil modified its existing production facility for ETBE, and established a production capacity of 100-mil16

lion L/yr. The facility uses 40-million L/yr of bioethanol — produced at Hokkaido and imported from Brazil — and 70-million L/yr of FCC-based iso-butene. The benefits of blending ETBE instead of ethanol outweigh the increased complexity of ETBE production, says Nippon Oil. For example, gasoline with more than 3% ethanol is corrosive and leads to a higher vapor pressure. Also, ethanol must be blended at the point of distribution to prevent water contamination and phase separation. ETBE does not have these problems. The Japanese petroleum-refining industry aims to market 840-million L/yr of gasoline with bio-ETBE (corresponding to 360-million L/yr of bioethanol) starting with the fiscal year April 2010. ■


Direct Polymerization (CDP) process of Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; www.evonik. com), and will make products used primarily as binders in the coatings industry.

Preventing biofims At last month’s Watec Conference (Tel Aviv, Israel), Yissum Research Development Co. of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. (Israel; www. introduced an environmentally friendly method for preventing biofilm. The patented method, which was developed at Hebrew University, uses heterocyclic compounds that disrupt cell-to-cell communication (quorum sensing), thereby interfering with the formation of biofilms. The compounds can be applied as non-leaching polymer coatings on pipes, filters, membranes, air-conditioning ducts and other surfaces, and are effective against both fungal and bacterial biofilms. Potential applications include municipal and industrial water pipes, irrigation pipelines, paper making machines, and desalination and water-recycling processes. ❏

Lucite International

cover story

40th KirKpatricK award announced

2009 Board of Judges

Seven companies are honored for innovation in chemical engineering


ast month at the Chem Show, Chemical Engineering (CE) had the pleasure of honoring this year’s finalists and the winner of the 2009 Kirkpatrick Chemical Engineering Achievement Award, a biennial prize that the magazine has bestowed continuously since the early 1930s (for more, see CE, January 2009, p.19) The award recognizes the most noteworthy chemical engineering technology commercialized anywhere in the world during 2007 or 2008. CE presented the top prize to Lucite International UK Ltd. (Wilton, U.K.; for its Alpha process for making methyl methacrylate (MMA). Honor awards were also presented to: The Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, Mich.; and BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany;, for a jointly developed process for the production of propylene oxide (PO) via hydrogen peroxide (HPPO); Evonik Industries AG (Essen; and Uhde GmbH (Dortmund, both Germany;

Klavs S. Jensen, MIT Norman J. Wagner, University of Delaware Tom Spicer, University of Arkansas Michael D. Graham, University of Wisconsin, Madison T.J. Lakis Mountziaris, University of Massachusetts Jean-Claude Charpentier, President European Federation of Chemical Engineers, Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine, France, for a jointly developed process for the production of PO via hydrogen peroxide; Solvay S.A. (Brussels, Belgium;, for its Epicerol process for making epichlorohydrin; and to DuPont (Wilmington, Del.;, for Cerenol — a new family of renewably sourced, high-performance polyether glycols.

Lucite’s Winning Achievement A new route to MMA

Two existing processes dominate the manufacture of MMA. In the original ACH process — still the predominant process in Europe and the U.S. — hydrogen cyanide and acetone are reacted to form cyanohydrin, which is then isomerized in the presence of 100% sulfuric acid to methacrylamide sulfate. This is reacted with methanol to yield MMA and ammonium hydrogen sulfate, which can either be converted to ammonium sulfate fertilizer or incinerated to SO2 with subsequent conversion back to sulfuric acid. The

ACH process uses toxic and corrosive chemicals and the MMA production is generally limited by the availability of HCN as a byproduct from acrylonitrile production. The selectivity, based on acetone, is 85–90%. In Asia alongside the ACH process is the so-called C4 process, whereby isobutene is extracted from crackerintermediate streams, then oxidized in two stages into methacrylic acid (MAA). The MAA is then esterified into MMA. Although the C4 process is simpler that the ACH process, it has a very low selectivity (about 70% of the isobutene is converted to MMA) and scale is limited by the design of the oxidation reactors and feedstock availability to approximately 80,000 metric tons (m.t.) per year. The Alpha process developed from a need identified by the then ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) board to escape from the straitjackets of high capital and variable cost plants and limited scale of production, all of which were believed to have held back MMA

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Cover Story against other high-volume plastics, such as polystyrene and polyacrylates. In 1990, a team of Lucite chemists and engineers identified several processes that, on paper at least, appeared to be alternatives for existing technology. These were investigated experimentally through catalyst development and conceptual process design of separations. Variants were assessed for economic attractiveness using predictive models for the longterm future of feedstocks, such as ethylene, propylene, methanol, acetone and isobutene. Using this iterative process, the technology best suited to the company was chosen for piloting. The Alpha process is a two-step route to MMA (Figure 1). In the first step, carbon monoxide, ethylene and methanol are reacted together in a single, homogeneous catalyzed reaction step to produce methylpropionate (MeP). In the second step, MeP is reacted with formaldehyde in a single heterogeneous reaction step to form MMA. The MeP synthesis is carried out in a continuous stirred tank reactor under moderate conditions of temperature and pressure. A proprietary agitation and gas-liquid mixing arrangement is used to ensure optimal reactant concentration and mass transfer rates. The catalyst — a palladium bisphosphine — displays enzyme-like selectivity with excellent activity. Because the reaction is highly selective, there are no byproducts to separate. The MMA synthesis reaction takes place in a fixed bed of catalyst, which has cesium oxide on silica as its active component. This catalyst converts MeP and anhydrous formaldehyde into MMA with a selectivity of 95% (from MeP). Two parallel MMA reactors are used to allow in-situ catalyst regeneration without disruption of the process. The reactor product is separated by an initial distillation, which produces a crude MMA stream free of water, MeP and formaldehyde. Unreacted MeP and formaldehyde are recycled, via a formaldehyde dehydration process, and the crude MMA further refined, by a series of conventional (but unique to this process) vacuum distillations to a product MMA stream of >99.9% purity. MMA plant capital cost using the Alpha process is about 30–40% lower 18

Alpha stage 1 (MeP)

Formalin process

2CH3OH + O2

Licensed Formalin process


Conventional Formalin process

MMA process

MeP process CO + C2H4 + CH3OH

2CH2O + 2H2O

(93% CH3OH reaction selectivity)

Alpha stage 2 (MMA)

Formaldehyde dehydration


(No reaction byproducts)

MeP reactor

MeP separation

MMA feed vaporization & superheat


MMA reactor 2

Reactor Regen loop

Carbon monoxide Ethylene

MMA reactor 1

MeP + CH2O MMA + Water (95% Reaction selectivity)

Waste water Crude separation


Refining Heavy esters

Figure 1. Lucite's award-winning Alpha MMA Process is based on completely new chemistry and a radically different flowsheet

than equivalent scale ACH, or C4 plants. The Alpha process also has a number of safety and environmental advantages, including the following: There are no significant inventories of hazardous chemicals; byproduct formation is low, and waste treatment requirements are minimal (trivial); and the principal hazards are only those associated with flammability of inventories. With Alpha, MMA manufacturing locations are no longer constrained by feedstock availability, and there are no engineering scale limitations to at least 250,000 m.t./yr. Lucite’s Alpha MMA Process was successfully demonstrated in a 120,000-m.t./yr plant that started up in the 4th Q of 2008 at Jurong Island in Singapore (photo, p. 17).

Honor AwArd: THe dow CHemiCAl Co. And BASF Se Industrial Process for the production of PO via H2O2

Propylene oxide (PO) is a widely used chemical intermediate, with a worldwide demand estimated to be in excess of 6.5 million m.t./yr. PO is used for the production of a broad range of industrial and commercial products, including polyurethanes, propylene glycols and glycol ethers. Traditionally, four commercial-scale PO processes have been used globally, the chlorohydrin (CHPO) route and three hydroperoxidation processes: propylene oxide/tertiary butyl alcohol (PO/TBA), styrene monomer/propylene oxide (SMPO) and cumene hydroperoxide (CPO). In the HPPO process developed by Dow and BASF, the organic peroxides

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

or chlorinated oxidants used in the hydroperoxidation processes are replaced by hydrogen peroxide — a clean, versatile, environmentally benign oxidant. The reaction of H2O2 with propylene produces only water as a co-product, as well as minor amounts of PO derivatives, such as propylene glycol. The key to the HPPO process developed by the Dow, BASF team is the patented catalyst — a shaped body titanium-containing MFI-type zeolite with channels of about 0.5 nm in dia., which was developed and is produced by BASF. The catalyst is used in a fixed-bed reactor, and the reaction of H2O2 and C3H6 takes place in the liquid phase (methanol as solvent) under mild conditions. A patented reaction sequence with a main and finishing reactor and an intermediate separation tower (Figure 2) allows high H2O2 conversion at high selectivity by preventing PO-consuming reactions that lead to the formation of byproducts. The primary reactor is operated at an optimum conversion of H2O2. The effluent product from this reactor is then sent to a separation tower that removes PO from unreacted H2O2. H2O2 conversion is then completed in a second reactor to enable a complete H2O2 conversion in a single pass, while optimizing the PO yield. The combination of the highly selective catalyst, the two-stage reactor concept and an optimization of the methanol solvent concentration in the process enables the reaction system to be operated with a relatively small excess of propylene to H2O2, while still maintaining a high overall yield. The crude PO product is purified by distillation, and the methanol purified and recycled. The small

PROCESS INSIGHT Comparing Physical Solvents for Acid Gas Removal Physical solvents such as DEPG, NMP, Methanol, and Propylene Carbonate are often used to treat sour gas. These physical solvents differ from chemical solvents such as ethanolamines and hot potassium carbonate in a number of ways. The regeneration of chemical solvents is achieved by the application of heat whereas physical solvents can often be stripped of impurities by simply reducing the pressure. Physical solvents tend to be favored over chemical solvents when the concentration of acid gases or other impurities is very high and the operating pressure is high. Unlike chemical solvents, physical solvents are non-corrosive, requiring only carbon steel construction. A physical solvent’s capacity for absorbing acid gases increases significantly as the temperature decreases, resulting in reduced circulation rate and associated operating costs.

PC (Propylene Carbonate)

The Fluor Solvent process uses JEFFSOL® PC and is by Fluor Daniel, Inc. The light hydrocarbons in natural gas and hydrogen in synthesis gas are less soluble in PC than in the other solvents. PC cannot be used for selective H2S treating because it is unstable at the high temperature required to completely strip H2S from the rich solvent. The FLUOR Solvent process is generally limited to treating feed gases containing less than 20 ppmv; however, improved stripping with medium pressure flash gas in a vacuum stripper allows treatment to 4 ppmv for gases containing up to 200 ppmv H2S. The operating temperature for PC is limited to a minimum of 0°F (-18°C) and a maximum of 149°F (65°C).

Gas Solubilities in Physical Solvents

All of these physical solvents are more selective for acid gas than for the main constituent of the gas. Relative solubilities of some selected gases in solvents relative to carbon dioxide are presented in the following table. The solubility of hydrocarbons in physical solvents increases with the molecular weight of the hydrocarbon. Since heavy hydrocarbons tend to accumulate in the solvent, physical solvent processes are generally not economical for the treatment of hydrocarbon streams that contain a substantial amount of pentane-plus unless a stripping column with a reboiler is used.

Typical Physical Solvent Process

DEPG at 25°C

PC at 25°C

NMP at 25°C

MeOH at -25°C





DEPG is a mixture of dimethyl ethers of polyethylene glycol. Solvents containing DEPG are marketed by several companies including Coastal Chemical Company (as Coastal AGR®), Dow (Selexol™), and UOP (Selexol). DEPG can be used for selective H2S removal and can be configured to yield both a rich H2S feed to the Claus unit as well as bulk CO2 removal. DEPG is suitable for operation at temperatures up to 347°F (175°C). The minimum operating temperature is usually 0°F (-18°C).

H2 Methane

























MeOH (Methanol)






H 2S










Methyl Mercaptan





Gas Component

DEPG (Dimethyl Ether of Polyethylene Glycol)

The most common Methanol processes for acid gas removal are the Rectisol process (by Lurgi AG) and Ifpexol® process (by Prosernat). The main application for the Rectisol process is purification of synthesis gases derived from the gasification of heavy oil and coal rather than natural gas treating applications. The two-stage Ifpexol process can be used for natural gas applications. Methanol has a relatively high vapor pressure at normal process conditions, so deep refrigeration or special recovery methods are required to prevent high solvent losses. The process usually operates between -40°F and -80°F (-40°C and -62°C).

NMP (N-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone)

The Purisol Process uses NMP® and is marketed by Lurgi AG. The flow schemes used for this solvent are similar to those for DEPG. The process can be operated either at ambient temperature or with refrigeration down to about 5°F (-15°C). The Purisol process is particularly well suited to the purification of high-pressure, high CO2 synthesis gas for gas turbine integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) systems because of the high selectivity for H2S.

Choosing the Best Alternative

A detailed analysis must be performed to determine the most economical choice of solvent based on the product requirements. Feed gas composition, minor components present, and limitations of the individual physical solvent processes are all important factors in the selection process. Engineers can easily investigate the available alternatives using a verified process simulator such as ProMax® which has been verified with plant operating data. For additional information about this topic, view the technical article “A Comparison of Physical Solvents for Acid Gas Removal” at For more information about ProMax, contact Bryan Research & Engineering or visit

Bryan Research & Engineering, Inc. P.O. Box 4747 • Bryan, Texas USA • 77805 979-776-5220 • • Circle 13 on p. 62 or go to

Cover Story propylene offgas stream is recycled (after catalytic removal of O2 for safety reasons). Product yields, based on propylene and H2O2 exceed 90%. Compared with existing PO technology, this HPPO process reduces wastewater by 70–80%; reduces energy usage by 35%; and reduces infrastructure and physical footprint with simpler raw material integration and avoidance of co-products. New PO plants using HPPO technology require up to 25% less capital to build. In 2008, Dow and BASF successfully started up the first commercial-scale PO production plant with a capacity of 300,000 m.t./yr based on the BASF/ Dow-developed HPPO technology at BASF’s Antwerp, Belgium, facility. A second plant based on this technology is scheduled to begin production in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, in the first half of 2011.

Honor AwArd: Evonik induStriES AG And uHdE GmbH Industrial process for the production of PO via H2O2

As mentioned in the previous section, conventional routes to PO generate considerable amounts of co-products. Per ton of PO, the chlorohydrin route generates 2.1 tons CaCl2; the PO/SM route makes 2.3 tons of styrene; PO/ TBA coproduces 2.4 tons of MTBE; and the cumene route makes dimethylbenzyl alcohol that needs to be hydrogenated and recycled. The EvonikUhde HPPO process produces no co-products. With the HPPO process (Figure 3), propylene is catalytically oxidized with H2O2 to PO and H2O. The highly exothermic reaction (DHR° = –220 kJ/ mol) takes place in a methanol solvent over a solid titanium silicalite (TS-1) catalyst. The key to the Evonik-Uhde HPPO process is the oxidation reactor. A shell-and-tube reactor of an entirely new design is used, making it possible for the liquid to flow through each of several thousand catalystfilled tubes. The reaction takes place at a pressure of about 30 bar and at a temperature well below 100°C. The new design and an optimized process configuration guarantee good removal of the reaction heat and nearly ideal 20



Pure PO


H2O, glycols

H2O2 MeOH Main reactor

Finishing O2 reactor removal PO separation Offgas

PO Water MeOH puripuriCrude glycols PO separation fication fication

Figure 2. In the HPPO process developed by BASF and Dow, a patented reaction sequence with a main and finishing reactor and an intermediate separation tower allows high H2O2 conversion at high selectivity

flow characteristics in each tube, resulting in very high PO selectivity. Reactor internals, such as distributors and collectors, were developed for this special application. The innovative design combines efficient heat transfer with an almost ideal plugflow characterization. Subsequently, the unconverted propylene and the solvent methanol are separated from the PO product by decompression and distillation to be fed back into the reactor. Finally, the PO is further processed to achieve a product purity greater than 99.97 wt.%. During the development phase, the cost efficiency of the process development was continually checked and controlled with the help of IRR (internal rate of return) calculations. All process steps and the core equipment are patented. The complete process was demonstrated in a miniplant featuring all of the process steps, and described by means of a simulation model. This is particularly important in order to detect trace components in the closed recycle loops at an early stage and to permit a low-risk scaleup to commercial scale. The scaleup procedure — from miniplant to a worldscale PO facility with a capacity of 100,000 m.t./yr as a reference plant — was carried out in a single development step. The scaleup risk was minimized for the reaction unit by increasing the number of miniplant reactor tubes and connecting them in parallel. Especially for the downstream processing, intensive process simulation was performed and verified using the miniplant data. Finite element methods (FEM) and computational fluid

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

dynamics (CFD) calculations complemented the development work. The first large-scale industrial plant to use this HPPO process was built for SKC Co., Ltd. (Seoul, South Korea) at Ulsan, approximately 300 km southeast of Seoul. The 100,000-m.t./yr plant came onstream in March 2008. After a short time of parameter adaption, the plant operated at full capacity and within specifications in July, 2008. Since then, the plant has been producing top quality PO at 100% capacity.

Honor AwArd: du Pont A new family of renewably sourced polyether glycols

On June 4, 2007, DuPont announced the commercial launch of DuPont Cerenol, a new family of 100% renewably sourced, high-performance polyether glycols made from corn-derived 1,3-propanediol (Bio-PDO), instead of a petroleum-based ingredient. There are now five commercial grades of Cerenol homopolymer, which are manufactured in batch operations spanning the molecular weight range of 650 to 2,400 g/mol. Cerenol polymers possess a unique combination of properties that make them exceptionally attractive for a variety of end-use applications, including performance coatings, inks lubricants, functional fluids and personal care products. Cerenol polymers can also be used as building blocks for several value-added thermoplastic elastomers, such as polyurethanes, spandex, copolyether esters and copolyether ester amides. Cerenol polymers are linear, ether-



Propene recycle

HO MeOH recycle

Reaction unit

+ O







BF3Et2O CH2Cl2

OH n









Figure 4. The poly(trimethylene ether) glycol molecule can be synthesized from either a polycondensation of 1,3 propanediol [Reaction (1)] or by cationic ring opening of oxetane [Reaction (2)]

the oxetane alternative. The polycondensation process inDecompressing/ volves the self-condensation propane recyling of diol in the presence of a soluble acid catalyst (<1 wt.%) and subsequent removal of the acid during the purification process. Since PO Methanol this reaction can be executed purification processing under an inert atmosphere at ambient pressure without the use of an organic solvent, it does not require the highpressure reactors needed for PO Wastewater the ring-opening reaction of oxetane. The polycondensaFigure 3. The key to the HPPO process develtion process also simplifies oped by Evonik and Uhde is the shell-and-tube the control of the reactor as oxidation reactor the evaporation of the water linked, long-chain molecules with byproduct creates an endothermic three carbon atoms in the repeat process as opposed to the strongly exounit. This three-carbon linkage pro- thermic reaction process utilized by vides Cerenol polymers improved low- the oxetane process. Beyond the environmental benefits temperature flexibility and toughness in elastomers when compared of making Cerenol from Bio-PDO into alternative polyether glycols. The stead of petroleum-derived PDO, Cerepoly(trimethylene ether) glycol mol- nol also provides unique functionality ecule can be synthesized from either over alternative polyether glycols. a polycondensation of 1,3-propanediol (Figure 4, top) or by the cationic ring Honor AwArd: opening of oxetane (Figure 4, bottom). SolvAy S.A. The production of Cerenol through The Epicerol process for the polycondensation of Bio-PDO re- making epichlorohydrin quired several process and product Epichlorohydrin (ECH) is a basic innovations to engineer cost-effective chemical for the production of epoxy methods for manufacturing the prod- resins, which are used in a variety of uct. One of the key enabling tech- applications, including the automotive nologies was the use of Bio-PDO to and aircraft industries; windmills; eliminate costly and energy intensive electronics; packaging; and sports pre- and post-polymerization treat- equipment. ECH is also used in other ments that had previously been re- chemical fields, such as for the producquired for polymers from petroleum tion of water-treatment chemicals and based PDO. pharmaceuticals. The world demand The use of polycondensation of Bio- for ECH is 1.3 million m.t./yr with an PDO to produce Cerenol enables an in- estimated growth rate of 4–5% in the herently safer process than the cationic coming years. ring opening of oxetane — a hazardous The traditional production route to material that is highly flammable, vol- ECH uses propylene and chlorine as atile, toxic and highly reactive. In con- feedstocks and follows a three-step trast, Bio-PDO is renewably sourced process: First, propylene is reacted and biodegradable with low volatility, with chlorine to make allyl chloride flammability and toxicity. and hydrogen chloride; allyl chloride Polycondensation of Bio-PDO is then reacts with Cl2 and water to form also less equipment intensive than dichloropropanol and HCl; finally, di-

chloropropanol reacts with sodium hydroxide to form epichlorohydrin and NaCl. This process is not very selective; some amounts of chlorinated byproducts are produced that cannot be utilized or sold. Also, the process is energy and water intensive, and based on an inflammable, petroleumbased feedstock. Meanwhile, the rapid evolution of the biodiesel industry in the last few years has significantly increased the availability of glycerin — a byproduct of the transesterification technology of biodiesel production. In the past, glycerin had even been made by using ECH as a feedstock. Studying the opportunity to invert this process lead Solvay to the development of its Epicerol process. In the Epicerol process (details not disclosed), dichloropropanol is made in one step by the reaction of glycerine and HCl over a proprietary catalyst, thus avoiding the need to use Cl2. In addition, the process is said to generate fewer chlorinated byproducts with a sharp reduction of water consumption. Epicerol has the extra advantage of replacing a hydrocarbon feedstock by glycerin, which is a byproduct from the biodiesel and oleochemical industries. After preliminary laboratory and pilot trials were made, the first industrial-scale unit — with a production capacity of 10,000 m.t./yr — was started in Tavaux, France, in 2007. This unit helped the company to improve the process conditions and to prepare for the construction of a 100,000-m.t./yr Epicerol unit for Solvay’s integrated site of Map Ta Phut, Thailand, which is slated to startup at the end of 2011. Compared to the conventional route to ECH, Epicerol requires one-tenth the water demand; reduces emissions of chlorinated residues by a factor of eight; reduces CO2 emissions by 20% for the value-added chain; and halves the consumption of non-renewable energy resources. ■ Gerald Ondrey

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When DME is combusted, it generates absolutely no sulfur oxides and 90% less nitrogen oxide emissions than today's fossil fuels.

Process Economics Program Report: DME from Coal Dimethyl ether (DME) is a clean energy fuel that can be manufactured from various primary energy resources including coal. DME is colorless, nontoxic and an environmentally benign compound used in industry today as a solvent and a propellant in aerosol products. According to the International Energy Agency, long term global energy demand is expected to increase by 60% between 2002 and 2030. In this report, SRIC has calculated that DME as an energy source is economically viable when the crude oil price is at US$55 a barrel. Conventional DME (methanol dehydration) technology lacks the efficiency for large-scale production. By integrating coal gasification and single step DME technology, large-scale production can be achieved from low cost coal. SRIC's DME from Coal report provides process economics for integrated production of DME from coal using indirect and direct process technology.

The DME from Coal report is essential for technical and business managers involved in planning and understanding the market potential of DME as a fuel for power generation, transportation, and domestic use, as well as for the production of industrial chemicals. The report includes: Introduction Summary Industry Status Technology Review DME from Coal by Integrated Methanol/DME Haldor-Topsoe Process DME from Coal by Single-Step Synthesis by JFE Holding Design and Cost Basis Process Flow Diagrams

For more information and to purchase this report, contact Angela Faterkowski, +1 281 203 6275, or visit the website at Smart Research. Smart Business.






ScreenerS target efficiency Screening system manufacturers look to squeeze more out of their equipment


s bulk-solids processors look for ways to save money, manufacturers of screening equipment are concentrating on maximizing the efficiency of the equipment they offer. Screening has been prominent in solid-solid separations in the chemical process industries (CPI) for decades. It is usually performed either to remove oversize particles and foreign materials from a bulk solid (scalping), to separate different size fractions of a bulk material to create multiple products (classification), or to remove fines or dust from feed material. While the basic principles of screening technology have changed little over time, screening companies are focusing on efficiency and have developed ways to improve throughput, reduce screen blinding, and make screening systems easier to use and maintain. Screening efficiency can be defined in several ways, depending on the application and the desired outcome. For removal of undersized material, efficiency could be expressed as a ratio between the amount of feed that actually passes through the screen and the amount that should pass. For classification, efficiency can be the amount of on-size product separated by the screen over the amount of onsize material available in the feed. When screening to remove oversized particles, engineers could define efficiency as the actual amount of oversized material over the amount of feed that passes. Screening equipment manufactur-

The SMICO/Symons V screen (left) has the capability to combine centrifugal force with vibratory energy to enhance screening. Above, one of Virto-Elcan’s Kroosh machines is equipped with a multifrequency vibration adapter to amplify vibratory energy. SMICO/Symons

ers that exhibited at the 2009 Chem Show in New York from November 17–19 provide examples of this focus on efficiency. These companies include Russell Finex (Feltham, U.K.; www., SMICO Manufacturing Co. (Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Virto-Elcan (Mamaroneck, N.Y.; www.virto-elcan. com). Virto-Elcan is a business name recently added to the company known also as Elcan Industries Inc. and as Minox-Elcan. Virto-Elcan added the moniker for its business selling, servicing and testing screening equipment from Kroosh Technologies (Ashdod, Israel;

Efficiency is king

The current economic environment has prompted companies in the CPI to concentrate on maximizing efficiency in every area of their processes. Among the general approaches to reach optimal screening efficiencies pursued by those who handle powders and other solids are: increasing throughput; boosting separation specificity; reducing maintenance requirements; and shrinking the physical footprint, along with other screening parameters that

can impact process efficiency. “No one can survive running inefficiently anymore,” says Bob Grotto, president of Virto-Elcan. This assertion applies equally to those developing screening equipment as well as those using it. Many processing problems need to be solved more precisely now, he explains, and that requires screening equipment capable of more specific separations or higher throughput. Tim Douglass, product manager at SMICO Manufacturing Co. and its subsidiary Symons Screens (www., agrees, saying that CPI companies are trying to save money and save on capital equipment costs, and that the drive to save includes searching for value in screening equipment. “People are focusing on ‘How much can you process?’ and ‘How well can you do it?’” because they want to process “more with less,” Douglass says. Processors are trying to reclaim more product, recycle materials, reduce waste or make productive use of waste material. Efficiency is of primary importance to customers, and screening companies are trying to design equip-

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Russell Finex

Newsfront ment to maximize productivity. “It all goes back to efficiency,” he adds.

Combining screen motions

Size-based separation with a screen involves some kind of motion or vibration, since the mechanism by which particles are separated depends on motion of the bed to continously renew the layer of material exposed to the screen. Screener motions are usually vibratory, gyratory or centrifugal. Symons Screens, a subsidiary of Chem Show exhibitor SMICO Manufacturing Co., offers a product that combines the three modes of motion — vibration, rotation and gyration — to pursue larger capacities and more efficient separations. The centrifugal force enhances the gravitational pull, and the screener drum gyrates as it rotates, subjecting the material to over 1,000 pulsations per minute on the screening surface. The company says the design causes the material to strike the screen surface 50% more often than with a conventional screener.

Multifrequency vibration

Another efficiency-improving innovation on display at the Chem Show was the multifrequency vibration adapter developed by Kroosh Technologies. Kroosh machines are tested, serviced and distributed by Virto-Elcan in North America. The specially designed adapter is capable of converting the single frequency vibration of a screener motor into higher-energy, multifrequency vibrations. The adapter captures and amplifies energy from the vibratory motor and transfers it to a support screen. Vibratory screens on Kroosh instruments are designed to use untensioned working meshes. “The support screen grabs the energy,” says Virto-Elcan’s Grotto, “and we lay down a fine mesh over that.” The Kroosh adapter is mounted directly underneath the mesh, and uses the energy of the screener motor to distribute a wide range of sub- and super-harmonic frequencies — what the company calls “a chaotic symphony of vibrations” — through the screening media. Screeners with multifrequency vibration can achieve higher accelera24

tions of the screening surface than a conventional setup. Acceleration gravitational forces experienced by the surface mesh are increased significantly by the adapter — to around 1,000 × g — which is a factor of ten more than the gravitational force observed in many conventional screening systems. The high acceleration applied to the mesh provides a mechanical means of deblinding, potentially a major source of inefficiency in screening processes. The amount of energy An ultrasonic deblinding probe from Russell in the screening area makes Finex is shown applied to a working screen. it impossible for blinding to occur, explains Grotto. In addition, itor, has observed success in customer the high energy stirs powders and de- applications where the ultrasonic deagglomerates material clusters, which blinding approach was used. The techhelps increase processing efficiency. nique allows higher screening capaciThe Kroosh technology can increase ties and screening on finer meshes. throughputs by 10-fold, Grotto says. The main operating component of The built-in antiblinding capabil- the ultrasonic deblinding system is ity of the multifrequency adapter an acoustically developed transducer, eliminates the need for other types which is bonded to a velocity transof screen-blinding countermeasures, fer plate on the sieving mesh. When such as sweeping arms or loose plastic the transducer (sometimes called the spheres on the screening surface. probe) is excited at its resonant freThe vibration action afforded by the quency, the velocity transfer plate vimultifrequency adapter broadens the brates each wire of the mesh and precapabilities of the screening system. vents particles from sticking to them. An efficient screening system could Current screeners equipped with ulrepresent a possible replacement for trasonic deblinding systems give opmore expensive technologies. Grotto erators control over the ultrasonic acpoints to air classifiers as one possible tivity, so engineers have the ability to example. Separations on an efficient pulse the ultrasonic signals or vary the screener can save money compared activity across the screening surface. to an air classifier system, he notes. Rob O’Connell, Midwest regional The vibration mechanism also would sales manager at Russell Finex, says make possible finer separations that recent improvements in the company’s would be impractical with a conven- products are mainly aimed at making tional screener. Grotto says particles them easier to use and maintain. For as close in size as 12 μm can be sepa- example, Russell-Finex offers screenrated using a tensionless mesh on the ers with hand-operated clamps, which Kroosh equipment. obviates the need for tools and makes changing screens a quicker and easier job. The company has also worked on Ultrasonic deblinding Ultrasonic deblinding — the applica- reducing the level of noise produced by tion of ultrasonic frequency energy the equipment. Other efforts include a to the screening mesh to effectively screener design that allows the equipreduce friction in the wire mesh and ment to fit into smaller spaces, and sysprevent particles close in size to the tems that allow for enclosed streams, mesh openings from blocking the for harmful materials, and those that screen — is another approach aimed convey solids through screens with the aid of vacuum or positive pressure at maximizing efficiency. ■ Screening equipment maker Rus- rather than relying on gravity. Scott Jenkins sell Finex, another Chem Show exhib-

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GEA Process Engineering


Building a Better dryer Although they are notorious energy hogs, drying systems can be made more efficient


rying as a process is one of the most energy-intensive unit operations on the planet. Add to that the fact that dryers are used extensively throughout the chemical process industries (CPI) and it becomes obvious that there ought to be more attention paid to reducing the energy consumption and upping the “green” ante of drying processes. Unfortunately, the current economy is putting any such projects and plans on hold for many processors. Drying equipment experts, however, say it doesn’t have to be this way as there are a variety of methods and measures, ranging in price from no or low to high cost, that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact of drying processes, many of which will significantly reduce operating expenses down the road. What makes dryers so energy intensive is that the equipment’s function is to dry product by evaporating moisture, which means it must provide enough latent heat so that the moisture particles change from liquid to gas and then that gas must be extracted. “There is no magic bullet to change this,” says Darren Traub, executive vice president with Drytech Inc. (Irvine, Calif.). “The latent heat is a defined amount of heat and, depending on the moisture level, you have to invest that energy into the process to achieve the drying. However, there do exist opportunities to reduce the amount of energy consumption and environmental impact.”

Heat exchangers can be used in heat recovery systems to preheat the mass of fresh air required

The right tool for the job

The biggest energy savings comes from wise selection of new drying equipment. “In order to have the piece of equipment that has the least energy consumption, you need to ensure that you’re picking the right dryer for the right application,” says Geoff Pridham, director of business development with General Air Products (Exton, Pa.). He says this is something that is often ignored due to the current economy. “Equipment is often selected because it’s the cheapest option on the front end, but if it is the wrong type of dryer for the application, it will cost an arm and a leg in operating costs,” he says. On the contrary, selecting the most appropriate dryer, even with a higher upfront cost, will almost always save in energy and operating costs over the life of the application. For this reason, experts suggest that rather than looking strictly at investment cost, engineers should review the overall cost of the equipment from a lifecycle perspective. This assessment includes not only the initial cost loading from analysis, specification and purchase, but also the operational demands of energy, maintenance, retrofitting and ultimately disposal and replacement. “When you examine this broad spectrum for opportunities, one of the easiest to analyze is energy efficiency as a function of operational cost,” notes Paul Branson, regional director of the industrial group with Aeroglide Corp.’s National Drying Division (Trevose, Pa.).

This cost can often be related in terms of a cost per unit weight of material through a dryer. This calculable number allows comparisons between investments in both the initial selection of the dryer, as well as selection of energy management strategies. The relative cost of energy in a dryer is very significant. For example, a typical dryer used in acrylic polymer processing may have a capital cost of $1.5 million with a total installed cost approaching $2.5 million. This initial investment, ignoring the personnel cost, can be amortized across the first five years at about $500,000 per year. The corresponding thermal energy demand on such a system, however, can approach triple that value, so any reduction in energy will have a dramatic impact, especially over a longer period. “There are strategies for reducing this investment and outlay in the short, as well as the long term,” says Branson.

Optimizing operation

The simplest of these strategies is to make sure the equipment is running in optimal condition. “To reduce the amount of energy used, it is important to improve the operation of the dryer,” explains Traub. “One of the biggest steps is to eliminate thermal losses that stem from breakdowns in insulation and to get rid of heat sinks and air ingress that cool the drying medium.” Also, optimizing the electrical devices within the dryer will help reduce the energy load. For instance, using

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Newsfront Aeroglide

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variable frequency drives in fans will only allow the fan to produce the required amount of air, as opposed to using mechanical dampers where the fan produces more air than is required and uses more energy to run the fan. “There are many similar aspects of the drying system that can be corrected to contribute toward reducing the energy consumption and increasing environmentally responsible processing,” says Traub. While it is not related to energy consumption, optimizing the system will also reduce the environmental footprint in another way. The easiest and most immediate impact on therDryers have two major en- mal demand for dryers is the use of heat recovery. Here, a heat recovery system is used on a dryer vironmental emissions is- exhaust line sues associated with them: the heat source (the resource used to On a typical dryer, the spent exgenerate heat for the dryer) and par- haust air can be passed through an ticulate-matter emissions. To reduce air-to-air heat exchanger to preheat emissions related to the heat source, the mass of fresh air required. This exTraub suggests making sure the com- haust air is hot and heavily laden with bustion and cleaning system are meet- water vapor. The makeup air is gening or exceeding current codes. Adding erally significantly cooler and lower technology on the back end, such as in humidity. As the exhaust air cools, cyclones, dust collectors and scrub- the inlet air is preheated. In its most bers, will reduce the amount of par- efficient operation, the air-to-air heat ticulate matter generated during the exchanger will allow a cross over point process that is normally carried over so that not only is sensible heat capwith the air. tured as the two air streams pass each other, but there can be significant latent heat recovered as the exhaust air Thermal demand Another strategy for upping efficiency is suppressed below the dew point and is to reduce the thermal demand of condensation occurs. In such systems, these simple static the system. The easiest and most immediate impact on thermal demand devices can recover as much as 75 to for dryers is the use of heat recovery. 80% of the waste heat directly into the “Standard heat recovery schemes can system. “As an example, in conveyor be routinely deployed in over 70% of dryers routinely used in a Canadian operation, the exchangers are capable industrial dryers,” notes Branson. A typical example of heat recovery of preheating 80,000 acfm (actual cfm) systems is the straightforward pre- of air from 40 to 115°F, while reducing heating of makeup air to a dryer using the exhaust from the dryer from 140°F the spent exhaust from the dryer it- with corresponding condensation,” self. This allows a close-connected sys- explains Branson. “This overall effitem and is not subject to upstream or ciency achieves 77%. At an effective downstream swings in operating char- cost of $6 per million Btu, this type of acteristics from other unit operations. machine can save over $250,000/yr at It also provides a stable and repeat- these latitudes.” He adds that in addition to the imable recovery of energy throughout mediate thermal payback, there are the full operation of the dryer.

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Waste-to-energy applications for Dryers

he potential use of agricultural waste materials, such as biomass, or waste materials from other processes as viable raw materials for different applications has created a whole new life for dryers. “Right now in terms of the environmental movement, there is a big push for waste to energy and this is creating a growing segment for dryers that are processing environmentally friendly materials and turning them into something else,” says Darren Traub executive vice president with Drytech Inc. (Irvine, Calif.). He says all kinds of products such as bamboo, peanut shells and rice hulls can be sent to a recycling facility and turned into a product with an energy value that can be used as a fuel source and sold to someone else. Currently the most viable application for this is biomass use. Biomass, whether it is conventional timber feedstock grown specifically for pelletization or various cellulosic grasses under new development, is being reviewed for overall thermal capability. And, most of these biomass systems require a drying unit somewhere in the process. For example, in wood pelletization, moisture of wood feedstock needs to be reduced from 50% to approximately 10% to support proper size reduction and pelletization. “These pellets are then used for direct combustion from the industrial level down to the consumer level,” says Paul Branson with Aeroglide Corp. (Trevose, Pa.). Additional technologies are taking the energy conversion a few steps further — where reduced moisture biomass is fed to gasification units. These produce hydrocarbons in a much more useable gaseous and liquid form, allowing conversion to biofuels or direct combustion for power generation, or both. In power generation, in particular, the theme of energy recovery again resurfaces, where the low-calorific-value spent exhaust from turbines can actually be used to preheat and pre-dry the initial feedstock, again greatly increasing the overall energy balance of the installations, says Branson. In addition to standard pelletization or gasification, a third option is Torrefaction, where the biomass is pre-dried and thermally converted to a denser pellet that not only reduces overall transport costs, but can also closely replicate the performance of coal pellets in combustion, capitalizing on being combusted in the highly controlled and efficiently designed burners already in existence at power plants, says Branson. ❏

added benefits from a reduction in total exhaust, as well as in a reduction in the odor exiting the dryers themselves. While heat recovery does provide benefits, Fred Shaw, vice president of the chemical division of GEA Process Engineering, Inc. (Columbia, Md.), reminds us that the heat recovered from dryers is often low-grade heat, which can be a challenge to find a good use for. He adds that even with a use for recovered heat, an investment in capital equipment is still needed to install a heat recovery system. “There is always competition between projects that require capital to save energy and those that require capital to purchase equipment used to make more product to sell,” says Shaw. “In order to justify heat recovery equipment, you will have to demonstrate a good return, and, with the volatile prices of energy, it can be difficult to justify.” Branson agrees that many companies choose not to invest in thermal

recovery units because the payback is often beyond two years. However, he says this is a very shortsighted approach on the part of management. “As experience has shown in the last two cycles of increased energy costs, the upward spikes in energy are very rapid. At times such as this, with thermal costs doubling or even tripling, the payback can drop from this theoretical two to three year term to one year or even less,” stresses Branson.

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Product pretreatment

Another method to manage and reduce the total energy demand of the dryer is to reduce the actual drying requirements of the product. In many chemical processes, this can be accomplished by substitution of upstream manufacturing technology or raw materials to reduce the amount of water in the residual product. This has a direct reduction in the total thermal load of evaporation. Mechanical dewatering, which com-

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Newsfront bines the dryer with other process equipment, is another approach, says Shaw. “If you can remove water by use of a filter or centrifuge, it may reduce the moisture content of feed to the dryer, so you get more product with less drying time and effort,” he says. However, this can be a bit tricky. A typical example of this effort would use a leaf or rotary filter upstream of the dryer, explains Branson. In conveyor dryers, this can have a very positive thermal effect but can be limited by handling issues. Examples with polymer extrusion have shown that while it’s possible to operate rotary filters at higher suction and dwell times in an effort to change the inlet moisture, there is sometimes an overall decrease in thermal efficiency. “While the material is fed to the dryer at a reduced moisture content and evaporative load, the physical handling characteristics of the extrudate are such that it limits the processing capability of the

Drying system equipment anD service proviDers: Aeroglide Anhydro Coperion Drytech GEA Process Engineering

dryer itself,” he says. “The extrudate actually breaks more easily and reduces the air permeability of the product in the dryer, forcing the system to work less efficiently.” This, notes Branson, can result in reduced production or upset conditions, which have a net result of greater energy load per unit mass. “The key with this strategy is to review the synergy of water reduction in both the filter model, as well as the dryer model, to come up with an overall system that has a net positive effect.” Shaw also suggests considering the

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General Air Products Heyl & Patterson Komline Sanders Syray Drying Wyssmont

use of evaporators to concentrate the feed to the dryer because evaporators use less energy. “In a multistage evaporator with mechanical vapor recompression, you can get two or three pounds of water evaporation for every pound of steam you put into the dryer or evaporator,” he explains. “Whereas, you can’t achieve this in a drying system alone because you don’t have the ability to use multiple effect evaporation.” Dehumidification is also seeing some action as an energy reduction strategy, according to Svend Bojgaard, regional sales manager with Anhydro (Soeborg, Denmark). “In many cases we combine different dehumidification systems to optimize total energy cost to meet our customer’s requirements, meaning that the system will be tailor made,” says Bojgaard. While such customization prevents him from providing exact energy savings, he does say Anhydro has seen energy cost savings of up to 50% resulting from combining dehumidification systems with drying equipment. While it may be difficult to justify the higher price of a more appropriate, and therefore more efficient, drying system or the capital needed to include heat recovery or pretreatment, drying experts feel that it is worth the effort and expense. “Even though the economy is actually driving processors away from being green and more energy efficient regarding drying systems, spending less on the upfront cost of the dryer and related equipment is only a short term solution,” says General Air Products’ Pridham. “Over a longer period, it will cost more to operate and have a negative impact on production. The wiser choice is to choose drying equipment based on the total life operating cost.” n Joy LePree

Michell Instruments

Avoid kinking on tight turns with this tubing Tex-Flex fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) corrugated tubing (photo) can turn sharp corners without kinking. The manufacturer asserts that the tubing can handle bend diameters four times smaller than a typical smoothbore tube of the same size. The tubing’s ability to bend without kinking makes it perform well in confined spaces, wrapping around machine legs and other obstacles that would normally restrict or kink a smoothbore tube. Tex-Flex corrugated tubing is lightweight, seamless and clear, allowing operators to monitor material passing through the tube. Tex-Flex is also offered in a high purity polyfluoroalkoxy (PFA). For higherpressure applications, the tubes can be stainless-steel braided. Available sizes range from ¼ to 2 in. — Parker Hannifin Corp., Fort Worth, Tex.

Parker Hannifin


Measure oxygen drift-free with this transmitter The XTP600 oxygen transmitter (photo) is a self-contained oxygen transmitter for the process industries that measures oxygen content between 0.01 and 100%. Using the latest thermo-paramagnetic technology, the transmitter is almost drift-free. The XTP600 has ESAB Welding and Cutting Products no moving parts, so it can operate in that operates with a reed-switch and harsh industrial environments without magnet technology. The design avoids any interference from vibration. It is several challenges of standard rupture also stable at high hydrogen concentra- disc sensors. Some sensors require retions. The XTP600’s compact size, sim- placement or rewiring after one use, ple design and explosion-proof housing and are often in contact with the promake it ideal for installation next to cess flow, creating possible leak paths. the measurement point. — Michell In- Designed to work with the Opti-Gard struments, Cambridgeshire, U.K. rupture disc, the Flo-Tel sensor tions a magnet over the rupture disc so that when the disc bursts, the magnet and disc arc away from the sensor, creA magnet operates on this ating an open circuit signal. After ruprupture-disc sensor The Flo-Tel rupture disc detection turing, the disc is the only element of system (photo) is a noninvasive sensor the system requiring replacement. The Note: For more information, circle the 3-digit number on p. 62, or use the website designation.

sensor is not in contact with the process flow, so there are no potential leak paths. — Oseco, Broken Arrow, Okla. These regulators suppress internal cylinder forces for safety Purox and Oxweld oxygen cylinder regulators (photo) have a patented design that suppresses internal forces from a cylinder explosion within the cylinder walls. The design minimizes risk of injury in the event of an explosion. The regulators are machined from solid brass bar stock to ensure longterm

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Electrochemical Devices

New Products performance with minimum maintenance. — ESAB Welding and Cutting Products, Florence, S.C. A vacuum conveyor that is GMP-compliant The UC Series of vacuum conveyors (photo) comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, and are suitable for pharmaceutical processing applications, including loading and unloading coating pans, manufacturing tablet cores and handling or transferring pharmaceutical powders. Fully pneumatic, the UC Series is built with unibody construction for tool-free dismantling and easy cleaning. Powered by pneumatically air-driven vacuum pumps, the UC Series can safely and quietly transport pharmaceutical ingredients such as sugar, dextrose, magnesium oxide, or starch. Constructed of stainless-steel AISI 316L, the UC Series features an ultra-sanitary butterfly valve and a Gore Sinbran filter, which can trap particles down to 0.5 μm. The UC Series also includes FDA-approved silicone seals with a working range of –4 to 176°F. The conveyors can also be custom built per application to meet specific user requirements. — Piab Vacuum Conveyors, Hingham, Mass. Monitor hydrogen sulfide in water with these sensors S10 and S17 Sulfide Analytical Sensors (photo) provide accurate, reliable analysis of sulfide levels in watertreatment, sewage and wastewatertreatment applications. The S10 Sensor is an immersion- or insertion-style sensor, while the S17 is a valve-retractable-style sensor. Both feature a 316 stainless-steel body that incorporates the sensing element, a temperature module and a signal conditioner with cabling. The sensors’ pIon electrode cartridge measures the activity of “free” sulfide ions in solution in concentrations from 0.01 to 32,000 ppm over a pH range of 11 to 14. The electrode cartridge can measure sulfide ions across a temperature range of 0 to 80ºC. The S10 immersion sensor is 28D-2


Piab Vacuum Conveyors

designed to allow a variable insertion length to accommodate installation in pipe tees, flow cells or through tank walls. The S17 retractable sensor is designed with a ball valve and a compression fitting that allows it to slide freely for insertion into the process or retraction from the process. — Electrochemical Devices Inc., Irvine, Calif. Use this keyboard in industrial settings The DT-102-SS industrial keyboard (photo) is constructed of stainless steel and is specially designed to withstand the rigors of industrial processing areas. The DT-102-SS meets NEMA 4X and IP68 specifications, and can withstand rain, snow, splashing water and hose-directed water. With an operating temperature range of 0 to 60°C, it can be used outdoors and in other locations where extreme temperatures exist. The stainless-steel keyboard is also a nonincendive device that will not ignite flammable gases or vapors in hazardous locations. The keyboard’s integrated touchpad features left- and right-click buttons, with a full-size number pad above it. It is built with brushed stainless-steel keys and is 100% humidity resistant. — iKey Inc., Austin, Tex. Gas leak simulation tool is available in trial version Said to be the world’s first, this gasleak-simulation tool for ultrasonic gas detection can be accessed in a trial

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

version online at the Website The simulator allows users to experience the benefits of ultrasonic gas leak detectors for quick leak detection in challenging conditions found in most outdoor oil-and-gas installations. The system responds to the distinctive ultrasound created by the leak. The detectors pick up gas leaks at the speed of sound without having to wait for the gas to accumulate and physically enter a point-sensor head (conventional point detector) or within a narrow beam (open-path gas detector). The acoustic detection method is thereby unaffected by unknown factors, such as wind conditions, gas dilution and leak direction. — Gassonic A/S, Ballerup, Denmark In field tests, this grit washer achieves 95% grit retention The Pista Turbo grit washer contains new technology that can achieves grit retention of 95% down to 140 mesh particle size. It can produce drier and cleaner grit with less putrescible organic material. The new technology, called Tri-cleanse, features intense hydro-flushing and high air-infusion to aid in organic separation, as well as a custom-engineered and patented screw to further clean grit through additional agitation. Machine design is sleeker, with a smaller total footprint, and the washer can be retrofitted in the place of traditional screw classifiers and conveyors. — Smith and Lovelace Inc., Lenexa, Kan.

A solution in every drop of water. In the simple bond of hydrogen and oxygen, the complexity of human need presents itself. But if we apply chemistry, using the Human Element as our filter, we discover solutions as vital as water itself. Solutions like advanced desalination and re-use technology from Dow Water Solutions that make the purification and recycling of municipal water possible.

Dow Water Solutions’ reverse osmosis technology is at work in three wastewater reclamation and reuse facilities in Beijing, China. Reverse osmosis technology enables Beijing to meet its 50 percent ®™The DOW Diamond Logo and Human Element and design are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company © 2008

wastewater reuse rate for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games this summer. It also helps address growing worldwide






own commitment to conservation and reuse. Caring for man is caring for the future of mankind. And that is what The Dow Chemical Company is all about.

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New Products

HF Inverting Filter Centrifuge Cutting edge centrifuge technology for filtration, washing and drying of solid/liquid suspensions • Increase production • Improve productivity - Thin Cake Processing • Eliminate Operator Exposure - Full Containment • Effective Automated CIP • Widest Range of Applications - Hardest to Easiest Filtering Products • Lowest Possible Moistures - PAC ™ Technology • Dry Product Inside the Centrifuge PAC™ Technology

Conical Vacuum Dryer - Mixer Advanced technology for simultaneous multi-function drying and mixing • Full Containment Operation • Largest Heat Transfer Surface Area • Automatic CIP • Handles the Widest Range of Materials • Variable Volume Batch Sizes • Gentle Low Shear Drying & Mixing • Quick & Trouble Free Product Discharging

Pennwalt Super-D-Canter Cutting edge continuous centrifuge technology for separation of slurries into liquid or solid phases. • Only (1) drive motor • High Abrasion Points are fitted with replaceable parts • Advanced Polymer injection system • Most economical cost Ideal for: • Ethanol Stillage Dewatering • Sludge Thickening & Dewatering • Chemical Intermediates & Fine Chemical • Production of Plastics (PVC Dewatering) • Clarification of Liquids • Distillery Stillage

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This mixer is available in a wide size range The VersaMix Model VMC (photo) is offered in sizes ranging from 1– to 750–gal working capacity. The model has an air/oil lift system that raises and lowers the agitators from the mixing vessel. The vessel is attached to a frame that has a manual tilting mechanism, allowing 120-deg tilting for full discharge and thorough cleaning after completion of the mixing cycle. The VersaMix combines up to three separate agitation systems — a three-wing anchor, a high-speed disperser and a high-shear, rotor-stator mixer. The mixer is ideal for manufacturing viscous dispersions and emulsions with viscosities up to 1,000,000 cp. — Charles Ross and Son Co., Hauppauge, N.Y. A purging compound effective for biodegradeable resins The commercial purging componPurgex 461 Plus is effective for purging new biodegradeable and compostable polyethylene resins. The compound comes ready-to-use, and is recommended for color or material changes and the removal of residual contamination. The new compound blends low-linear polyethylene carrier with FDA-approved active ingredients that are designed to be non-toxic, nonabrasive and safe. — Neutrex, Inc., Houston, Tex. Measure non-condensing steam with these flowmeters The RNS and RWS Series flowmeters are designed to measure non-condensing steam and saturated process steam at pressures of up to 150 psi in energy-related applications. Both series types have no moving parts and require negligible maintenance. All meters in the series are loop-powered devices with standard HART communication for field programming. Operating temperatures for the meters are –20 to 366°F. An internal resistance temperature detector (RTD) and an external pressure sensor provide data to the flowmeter software,

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Charles Ross and Son

which compensates for changes in temperature and pressure to achieve accuracies of ±1%. — Racine Federated, Racine, Wisc. Transfer flammable liquids safely with this pump The SCP-6500 (available March 1, 2010) is designed to accommodate the transfer of alcohols, volatile hydrocarbons and flammable solvents. The pump features a lug with a grounding wire to allow users of flammable liquids to ground it, making the pump safe for use with Class 1 and 2 flammable substances. All components that come in contact with the fluid are created with conductive plastic, so there is grounding of the liquid, the pump, and, with correct bonding, the container. The pump is designed to fit containers and drums from 5 to 55 gal, and have a cost-effective life expectancy of 10–15 years. — Westcott Distribution Inc., Milford, Conn. Handle high-volume applications with this screener The Megatex XD Screener provides high-capacity throughput for largevolume applications in agriculture, plastics and chemicals. The screener has a unique elliptical-linear motion designed for high screening performance with low energy consumption. A single-screen deck change can be completed in 10 min, and all decks can be changed in 2 h. The Megatex XD provides 25%–50% greater capac-

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New Products ity per square foot of screen cloth in a compact footprint measuring a 12-ft. cube. for the standard model. Its motion is generated by an external drive cartridge and separates from Âź in. to 100 mesh. The accessible external drive of the Megatex XD is a cartridge with two spherical roller bearings that run for 200,000 h and is powered by a single 15- or 20-hp motor. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Rotex Global LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio Vacuum systems for areas with noise or space constraints Vacuum systems in the Com-pak Plus blower series (photo) are positive displacement, tri-lobe blower packages that provide consistent, reliable vacuum. They feature heavy-duty construction and low noise levels. The Compak Plus Series delivers flows to 3,305 ft3/min and vacuum to 15 in. Hg. The packages include inlet and discharge silencers, a high-efficiency, Energy

Policy of 2005 Act-compliant totally enclosed, fan-cooled motor and an automatic Vbelt tensioning device. The blower packages offer lower pulsations and significantly reduced footprint. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Kaeser Compressors Inc., Fredericksburg, Va. These pipe caps can be installed without tools The skirts on the new CE Series pipe caps are designed to stretch over the pipe edges while retaining their shape and tight fit. This feature allows them to be installed without tools. Ribbed skirts provide ventilation to ensure that the caps will not blow off under pressure. The pipe caps are made of linear low-density polyethylene, and are available in a range of sizes. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Caplugs, Buffalo, N.Y.

Kaeser Compressors

This membrane bioreactor is a complete packaged system The Puron Plus membrane bioreactor (MBR) system is a skid-mounted packaged plant that provides customers with a full scope of supply from prescreening and biological treatment through to the final membrane clarification step. The Puron Plus is designed for both industrial and municipal wastewater applications and offers a modular, small footprint solution which has been optimized for effluent requirements. The preengineered, membrane bioreactor plants are available with capacities ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 gal/d

Sulzer SMXLTM and SMRTM Heat exchangers for viscous and temperature sensitive media



Sulzer Chemtech




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New Products and feature Puron MBR membrane modules. The packaged MBR systems allow users to single-source an MBR system from one company if need be. — Koch Membrane Systems Inc., Wilmington, Mass. These blowdown valves can be fully serviced inline Fully serviceable inline, Clampseal blowdown valves provide control for continuous boiler or turbine blowdown, as well as bottom blow-off service. The valves feature a uniform, singlepiece gland, a cartridge-type packing chamber and pressure seal backseat. For continuous blowdown service, Clampseal valves are available in ½through 4-in. sizes with socket weld, butt weld or other end connection. Standard material for the valves is carbon steel A105, low alloy F22 and F91. — Conval Inc., Somers, Conn.

Measure three variables with this transmitter The Rosemount 3051S MultiVariable transmitter measures three variables and provides mass and energy flow output, reducing the number of devices traditionally required to make differential pressure (DP) flow measurement from ten to one. Patented compensation techniques increase accuracy and provide faster updates. The Rosemount instrument provides full compensation of more than 25 different parameters to achieve a five-fold improvement in flow performance compared to uncompensated differential pressure flow. The 3051S instrument updates flow measurement 22 times per second so users can more effectively track production, demand and total usage for process gas, steam and natural gas. — Emerson Process Management, St. Louis, Mo.

This industrial drive module has a removable memory block The ACS850 industrial drive module has a removable memory block that stores the drive’s complete firmware, user settings and motor data, a feature that increases the flexibility of the drive and provides for easy maintenance. The drive module is designed for industrial machinery in the power range of 1.5 to 600 hp, including mixers, extruders, cranes and others. Another aspect of the ACS850 is its automatic energy optimizer, which allows the drive to operate at maximum efficiency. An onboard energy-saving calculator monitors energy usage and indicates the amount saved in kilowatt hours, dollars and tons of carbon dioxide. The ACS850 is also equipped with an integrated safety-torque-off feature that removes torque from the motor shaft. — ABB, New Berlin, Wisc. ■ Scott Jenkins

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Michell Instruments

BinMaster Level Controls

Extend level measurement with this flexible probe The Procap capacitance probe (photo) features a flexible, extendable cable design for high-, middle- or low-level detection when the probe must be mounted on top of the bin. The device is especially suitable for applications where a probe is used as a high-level alarm or needs to be extended more than 4 ft. This flexible probe is also suitable for use with any lump material that might bend, damage or break a rigid probe. The first ten inches of the probe are rigid and the rest of the probe is flexible. The cable can be any length up to 35 ft. — BinMaster Level Controls, Lincoln, Neb. Now HMIs are also offered by this firm In addition to sensors, fieldbus, interinter face and connectivity solutions, this firm now also offers a new product line of human machine interfaces (HMIs). The VT250 (photo) is the first model available — other models will follow next year — and it provides visu-alization, controlling and variable gateway functionality for commucommu nication between fieldbus structures and realtime Ethernet. The VT250 has a 5.7-in. touchscreen, and can be configured as a master or slave, regardless of the communication direction. Providing two realtime Ethernet ports, the VT250 allows the user to set up a line topology. A communication port supporting RS 232 and RS 485, and the additional USB port are also included. — Hans Turck GmbH & Co. KG, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany This one transmitter does the job of ten devices The Rosemount 3051S MultiVariable Transmitter (3051SMV; photo) measures three variables and provides mass and energy flow output, thereby

Hans Turck

Emerson Process Management


reducing the number of devices traditionally required to make differential pressure (DP) flow measurements from ten to one. The 3051SMV simplifies mass and energy flow measurement, increases accuracy and provides faster updates through patented, advanced compensation techniques. Full compensation of over 25 different parameters achieves a five-fold improvement in flow performance compared to uncompensated DP flow, says the manufacturer. The device updates flow measurement 22 times per second, enabling users to

Note: For more information, circle the 3-digit number on p. 62, or use the website designation.

effectively track production, demand and total usage for process gas, steam and natural gas. — Emerson Process Management, Baar, Switzerland Do more with this dewpoint transmitter The Easidew PRO I.S. (photo) is a rugged, intrinsically safe, dewpoint transmitter suitable for use in the natural gas, petrochemical and process industries. The device is ATEX-certified for use in hazardous area Zone 0, as well as for use with galvanic isolators.

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Krohne Messtechnik

New Products As with other transmitters in the Easidew Range, the PRO I.S. is part of the Sensor Calibration Exchange Program, enabling users to maintain traceability through periodic recalibration while keeping the process in operation. All the calibration data are stored within the transmitter’s flash memory, so calibration exchange, or service, can be affected in seconds. — Michell Instruments, Ely, U.K. A new motorized actuator for linear valves This firm has introduced a new motorized open/close actuator for globe and diaphragm valves. The 24-V d.c. actuator (photo, p. 28I-1) is an alternative to current designs and also to solenoid valves. Valves using this actuator are especially suited to applications without plant air. Also, the operating costs of the motorized actuator are said to be lower than those of a compa- Michael Smith Engineers rable pneumatic actuator or even a solenoid valve. The actuating speed up to 2.3 L/min with positive displaceis between 4–10 mm/s, depending on ment pumping up to 6.9 barg. Control the nominal size. The S680 diaphragm options include RS232 and analog invalve, for example, closes in about terfaces. — Michael Smith Engineers 0.5 s in nominal size DN 15, and about Ltd., Woking, Surry, U.K. 2 s for DN 25. The design of motorized diaphragm valves makes them insensitive to particles and solids in the Higher temperatures are okay medium — even grains of sand and for this flowmeter pieces of lime scale in water pipes im- The Optisonic 6300 XT (photo) is a pair neither the function nor the tight- clamp-on ultrasonic flowmeter caness of the valves. — GEMÜ Gebrüder pable of measuring fluids with temMüller Apparatebau GmbH & Co. KG, peratures up to 200°C, which makes Ingelfingen-Criesbach, Germany the device suitable for applications involving heated hydrocarbons, molten sulfur, thermal oil and carbamate. The 6300 XT can be installed on Aggressive media are not a heated and insulated pipes without problem for this dosing system The combination of FMI rotary pis- the need to cool or shutdown the proton pump and Ismatec drives results cess. Two sensor types are available in a range of pumps (photo) for very for covering pipe diameters of DN 15 accurate and reliable dispensing, even to DN 400. — Krohne Messtechnik when highly aggressive chemicals or GmbH, Duisburg, Germany viscous media need to be transferred. The pump heads are available with ceramic pistons and ceramic cylinder Treat the offgas from solar cell heads. There are no valves to clog, production with this system leak or maintain, and the piston is the Spectra ZW (photo) is a single, comonly moving part. Drift-free operation pact system for abating the deposi(±1% from set point) is provided with tion and clean gases used in the very flowrates from microliters per minute high gas flow, chemical-vapor deposi28I-2

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


tion (CVD) process steps in the manufacture of solar cells and flat panel displays. A wet scrubbing system is integrated within the Spectra ZW for a total abatement/waste-processing solution. The system has a maximum, standard process-gas flow of more than 16 L/min of silane, 200 L/min of H2 and 40 L/min of NF3 — all of which are commonly used during the CVD processing step in solar-cell manufacturing. In addition, most dopant materials, such as phosphine, diborane or trimethyl borate, as well as etch materials, can be abated and processed effectively by these units. — Edwards Ltd., Crawley, U.K. Keep flange leaks from spraying with this shield A new type of TÜV-approved, stainless-steel spray guard (photo, p. 28I-4) provides effective protection from dangerous spray-outs of fuel oils and other flammable liquids from pipes and flanges. The safety shield incorporates a steel band and an internal stainlesssteel mesh that wraps around flanges and valves. The mesh is designed to sit against the flange — between it and

The new intelligence

VEGAPULS Radar Level Measurement Moving intelligently into the future: Improved sensitivity and precision increase measurement reliability in the field. New VEGAPULS antenna systems for higher temperatures widen the application spectrum. The intelligent software simplifies setup and commissioning and tackles even the most difficult applications. For a guaranteed future: plics®, the modular instrument concept from VEGA.

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New Products Allison Engineering

an outer steel band — and compresses against it to ensure that sprays or leaks are dispersed, while also preventing lateral spray. The shield has been pressure tested to 50 bar, and has a quick-release connection for simple installation and removal. — Allison Engineering, Basildon, U.K. A migration solution for fail-safe controllers The Gateway CM104 TSAA (photo) — a new migration solution for integrating Triconex fail-safe controllers into Simatic PCS 7-based control systems — enables existing systems to be expanded or modernized inexpensively and step-by-step. The new Gateway was developed to bring both the process control system and safety engineering up to the state-of-the art at the same time. It facilitates continuous communication between the Triconex, Trident or Tricon fail-safe controller and this firm’s automation system. The Gateway is completely integrated into the PSC 7, and can be laid out as a single or fully redundant link between the systems. — Siemens Industry Sector, Industrial Solutions Div., Erlangen, Germany A full range of FRP products, from pipes to tanks The new Filamaster line of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) products includes a full range of ducts, tanks and pipes that are all made of corrosion-resistant materials. Filamaster vertical tanks come in capacities from 1,300 to over 30,000 gal. The round duct and pipe series are available with diameters from 2 to 60 in. A full set of connec28I-4

tions can also be added, including bell ends, field kits, flanges, gaskets and elbows. The pipe and duct can be built for both high-temperature and caustic applications. — Filamat Composites Inc., Mississauga, Ontario, Canada The latest in shaft-alignment systems is simple to use Shaftalign (photo, p. 28I-6) is a new, laser-shaft-alignment system that combines simplicity of operation with precise measurement. The device features a backlit color display and the computer’s built-in display light sensor optimizes image quality and the device power management. The “Active Clock” measurement mode automatically collects the laser coordinates for the corresponding shaft position. Only three or four readings over a rotation angle of less than 70 deg are required to achieve a precise alignment. — Prüftechnik Alignment Systems GmbH, Ismaning, Germany Precise analytical balances for harsh industrial environments For rough environmental conditions, the Excellence XP balances offer several features for hands-free weighing and protection from exposure to oily or dirty samples. All Excellence XP analytical and microbalances are equipped with adjustable, motor-driven windshields, which make operating the balance much easier and faster, especially when wearing gloves. The balances can be operated with two builtin SmartSens infrared sensors and up to two optional ErgoSens sensors. All weighing operations, including opening and closing the windshield, zero,

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

tare and print/transfer results, can be performed without introducing any impurities. The windshields can be quickly removed and washed, and the mechanical concept of the SmartGrid hanging weighing pans means there are no difficult-to-reach gaps for ease of cleaning. — Mettler Toledo GmbH, Greifensee, Switzerland A new exchange resin for industrial water treatment Last month, this firm launched a new generation of gel-type, cationexchange resins for industrial water treatment. Lewatit MonoPlus S 108 and S 108 H have optimized leaching behavior, which is an important quality characteristic regarding the effectiveness and commercial efficiency of an ion-exchange unit; the lower the resin’s tendency for self-leaching, the less total organic carbon (TOC) is released, says the firm. This release of organic substances is undesirable because it can lead to blocking of the anion exchanger. The new resin beads also remain in excellent condition after many operating cycles. Even with short cycle times, the special monodisperse ion-exchange matrix ensures long service life. — Lanxess AG, Leverkusen, Germany Gear pumps that can also handle highly viscous food additives Gear pumps are commonly used for applications where fluids with high viscosities, high pressures and high temperatures have to be handled. Now, this firm has redesigned a gear pump, which has been used for years for conveying highly viscous, molten

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New Products plastics, to handle all other chemical fluids with similar properties, such as resins or silicones, polyurethanes and polymer solutions, and highly viscous food additives. The pump features a slim construction and a large inlet, which makes it possible to reduce the net positive suction head required to be as low as 100 mm Hg. The design is capable of reliably conveying viscous fluids from vacuum containers. — Maag Pump Systems AG, Oberglatt, Switzerland Full-scale, PV-module durability testing is now possible The XR360 is the latest technology for accelerated exposure testing of complete photovoltaic (PV) modules. The unit integrates recent developments in environmental-chamber and xenon solar-simulation technology. The XR360 is capable of testing modules up to 1.9 m X 1.4 m, a capability that covers more than 90% of today’s production modules. The system features a chamber equipped with four water-cooled, long-arc lamps, has full climatic functionality and has an expanded utility for running IEC tests not requiring light, such as a dampheat test. — Atlas Material Testing Solutions, Chicago, Ill. A vacuum conveyor that is GMPcompliant The UC Series of vacuum conveyors (photo) comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, and are suitable for pharmaceutical processing applications, including loading and unloading coating pans, manufacturing tablet cores and handling or transferring pharmaceutical powders. Fully pneumatic, the UC Series is built with unibody construction for tool-free dismantling and easy cleaning. Powered by pneumatically air-driven vacuum pumps, the UC Series can safely and quietly transport pharmaceutical ingredients such as sugar, dextrose, magnesium oxide or starch. Constructed of stainless-steel AISI 316L, the UC Series features an ultra-sanitary butterfly valve and a Gore Sinbran filter, which can trap particles down to 0.5 μm. The UC 28I-6

Prüftechnik Alignment Systems

Piab Vacuum Conveyors

Series also includes FDA-approved silicone seals with a working range of –4 to 176°F. The conveyors can also be custom built per application to meet specific user requirements. — Piab Vacuum Conveyors, Hingham, Mass. A new decanter generation for food-and-drink applications The F Series represents a new generation of decanter. The GCF 405 is designed for products that are difficult to discharge, which makes it suitable for use as a clarifying decanter in brewing and beverage industries. The multifunctional machine with a bowl diameter of 400 mm ensures maximum performance combined with high clarifying efficiency and maximum dry matter in the solids. This is achieved by high speed, a high torque, large clarifying area and the deep pond in conjunction with minimum space requirements. The machine is a so-called hydro-hermetic decanter with a pressurized separation chamber; pressure buildup enables the solids to discharge reliably. The new design also provides major advantages for foaming and degassing products. — GEA Westfalia Separator GmbH, Oelde, Germany Labels that withstand very cold temperatures The new CIL 91000 range of Self-Laminating Labels have been developed to survive cryogenic storage. The labels incorporate a clear wrap-around tail to permanently protect your computerprinted variable data, providing clear and reliable identification. These labels are suitable for vials and tubes, are waterproof and can withstand multiple freeze-thaw cycles, water-baths,

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

solvents, abrasion and long-term stor storage in liquid nitrogen and ultra-low temperature freezers — even down to –196°C — without detaching, cracking or fading. Labels can be printed using a PC and laser or thermal-transfer printer. — Computer Imprintable Label Systems Ltd., Worthing, U.K. Refillable cylinders for handling calibration gases Ecocyl OSQ is a refillable cylinder for portable calibration and testing of highly sensitive, environmental monitoring devices. It uses a unique, negative-pressure technology that guarantees precision in the calibration-gas delivery requirements for ultra-sensitive instruments, which can be susceptible to damage from the positive gas pressure usually applied by other gas cylinders. Such instruments include detection monitors with integrated pumps or those monitors calibrated in docking stations with built-in pumping devices. These cylinders have integrated valve, pressure regulator and flow control, which are permanently protected by a protective cowling, reducing the risk associated with connecting hoses. — Linde Gases, a div. of The Linde Group, Munich, Germany Improve communication between production and management With the introduction of the manufacturing execution system (MES) InfoCarrier, this firm has bridged the gap between management and production, even for complex, continuous production processes. InfoCarrier is particularly suitable for manufacturing bulk products, but can also be used for lot management of raw and final products. A powerful logistics component of the MES for silo, packaging, storage and dispatch offers additional advantages.

Extended Control Room for System 800xA With the operator in focus ABBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Extended Control Room for System 800xA offers a unique work environment, better than anything experienced before. We aim to give you as an industrial process operator exactly what you want: the right tools for the job, and an attractive and ergonomic environment in which you stay alert and effective. System 800xA provides a unified environment for operations and control that includes the ability to personalize workplaces, seamlessly integrate safety, electrical, and third party plant applications or systems, and implement advanced alarm strategies. All of these benefits are realized in ABBâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s latest operator console technology, the Extended Operator Workplace, giving you unparalleled ergonomics and visualization solutions, and promoting control room consolidation. Find out more at:

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Michell Instruments

New Products

ESAB Welding and Cutting Products

Parker Hannifin

A new perfluoroelastomer for pumps and valves A new, explosive decompression-resistant perfluoroelastomer has been launched for use in ultra-agressive processing applications. The Perlast G92E elastomer combines high levels of chemical resistance with an increased explosive decompression capability, setting a new performance standard for seals in pumps, valves and other processing eqiuipment exposed to high gas pressures (up to 20,000 psi). The material is suitable for temperatures up to 260°C. — Precision Polymer Engineering Ltd., Blackburn, U.K.

Avoid kinking on tight turns with this tubing Tex-Flex fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP) corrugated tubing (photo) can turn sharp corners without kinking. The manufacturer asserts that the tubing can handle bend diameters four times smaller than a typical smoothbore tube of the same size. The tubing’s ability to bend without kinking makes it perform well in confined spaces, wrapping around machine legs and other obstacles that would normally restrict or kink a smoothbore tube. Tex-Flex corrugated tubing is lightweight, seamless and clear, allowing operators to monitor material passing through the tube. Tex-Flex is also offered in a high purity polyfluoroalkoxy (PFA). For higher-pressure applications, the tubes can be stainless-steel braided. Available sizes range from ¼ to 2 in. — Parker Hannifin Corp., Fort Worth, Tex.

NIR moves from the laboratory to production environment NIRQuest is a fiber-optic, near-infrared spectrometer easily adaptable for cost-effective, online process control measurements. The instrument covers the spectral range from 900 to 2,500 nm, making it suitable for applications such as moisture detection in grains and meats, materials characterization of semiconductor components, bacterial detection in food and beverage production and chemical analysis of pharmaceuticals. — Ocean Optics, Duiven, the Netherlands

A magnet operates on this rupture-disc sensor The Flo-Tel rupture disc detection system (photo) is a noninvasive sensor that operates with a reed-switch and magnet technology. The design avoids several challenges of standard rupture disc sensors. Some sensors require replacement or rewiring after one use, and are often in contact with the process flow, creating possible leak paths. Designed to work with the Opti-Gard rupture disc, the Flo-Tel sensor positions a magnet over the rupture disc so that when the disc bursts, the magnet and disc arc away from the sensor, cre-

Developed by Provis GmbH & Co. KG (Waltrop, Germany), InfoCarrier has already been deployed by both small companies with a single production line, as well as Asia’s largest producer of pigments and fillers. — on/off engineering GmbH, Wunstorf, Germany


ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


ating an open circuit signal. After rupturing, the disc is the only element of the system requiring replacement. The sensor is not in contact with the process flow, so there are no potential leak paths. — Oseco, Broken Arrow, Okla. Measure oxygen drift-free with this transmitter The XTP600 oxygen transmitter (photo) is a self-contained oxygen transmitter for the process industries that measures oxygen content between 0.01 and 100%. Using the latest thermo-paramagnetic technology, the transmitter is almost drift-free. The XTP600 has no moving parts, so it can operate in harsh industrial environments without any interference from vibration. It is also stable at high hydrogen concentrations. The XTP600’s compact size, simple design and explosion-proof housing make it ideal for installation next to the measurement point. — Michell Instruments, Ely, U.K. These regulators suppress internal cylinder forces for safety Purox and Oxweld oxygen cylinder regulators (photo) have a patented design that suppresses internal forces from a cylinder explosion within the cylinder walls. The design minimizes risk of injury in the event of an explosion. The regulators are machined from solid brass bar stock to ensure longterm performance with minimum maintenance. — ESAB Welding and Cutting Products, Florence, S.C. ■ Gerald Ondrey and Scott Jenkins

Creating Installed Gain Graphs for Control Valves

Department Editor: Scott Jenkins


nstalled gain graphs can help improve the selection of control valves for chemical processing. The graphs are plotted to analyze together control-valve flow characteristics and process-system flow characteristics, and better illustrate the relationship between a control valve and the system. Predicting installed gain can help to increase controllability of the system and help avoid oversized valves. Installed gain graphs can reveal ranges of valve travel where the valve gain might impede controllability. They can also show the travels for which the control valve will perform optimally.

by using the equations in the ISA/IEC valve sizing standard (ANSI/ ISA-75.01.01). Step 4: Express the flowrate in terms of percent process variable (%PV) Use the range of the process-variable measurement device and its relationship to flowrate to determine the %PV for the installed characteristic graph points. For example, if the process variable is flowrate, divide each flowrate on the curve by the full span of the flowmeter.

GeneratinG an installed Gain Graph

Pressure, psia

0.6 0.4 0.2 0












Valve travel, %

ag e

Step 5: Develop installed gain graph Find the slope of the installed flow characteristic graph at each valve travel. The plot of ∆%PV / ∆%travel for each percent travel increment is the installed gain graph.


er ce





Normal Minimum


P1 for valve


P2 for valve


Step 6: Interpret results The installed gain graph can aid in the analysis of whether the control valve inherent characteristic is suitable for the system. An installed gain equal to one for the entire valve travel would indicate that the other components of the control system would not have to compensate for the installed valve gain (that is, the control system tuning parameters used at one value of valve travel would allow equally acceptable controllability at other travels). It is more than likely the installed gain will not equal one across the full valve travel. Guidelines for desirable installed gain values have been established. In most cases, installed gain values of between 0.5 and 2.0 should be the target. If the installed gain falls outside this range for valve travels that are expected to be used for controlling the process, the controllability will not be optimal. For example, controller tuning setpoints that function well at low valve travel values might cause system instability if used at travels with a high installed gain.


75 100

500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000 3,500 4,000 Flow, gal/min

Step 3: Determine installed flow characteristic graph a) Pressure conditions across a control valve are not constant. Values of the liquid-pressure recovery factor and the pressure-drop ratio factor for control valves vary with valve travel. b) For several values of valve travel, determine where on the system curve (flow versus pressure) the process will be operated and what the flowrate would be. The location on the system curve can be determined Installed flow characteristic 3,000

Flow, gal/min

Minimum gain

1.0 0.8





System pressure characteristic




Normal Minimum

1,500 1,000 500 0



ar ne


Step 2: Determine system characteristic curve The system curve defines piping head and friction losses. Plot flowrate vs. pressure. Assuming the 0 control valve is not un0 Percent of rated travel dersized, it will have one position that can fulfill both the flowrate and pressure conditions required by the system. 225

Maximum gain






Percent of rated flow coefficient

Step 1: Determine the control valve’s inherent flow characteristic a) Inherent flow characteristic describes how the capacity of a control valve changes with valve travel. b) The inherent flow characteristic plot has the same shape as valve flow coefficient (CV) curve. Common curve shapes are: Linear — Slope changes little over the normal working range of the valve Quick-opening — Slope changes faster over first 25% of valve travel and slower at high travels Equal percentage — Slope 100 changes more slowly at low travels and faster at high travels c) Plot CV versus valve travel.


Installed gain 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4





40 50 60 70 Valve travel, %




Valve gain — The change in flow for a given change in travel Valve travel — The degree of openness of the valve; the valve stroke Control range — The control range of an installed valve is the range of travels for which the installed gain remains within the recommended 0.5 to 2.0 range CV — The valve flow coefficient of a device (such as a valve) represents a relative measure of its efficiency at allowing fluid flow. It involves the relationship between the pressure drop across a valve system and the corresponding flowrate Inherent flow characteristic — The relationship between control valve capacity and valve stem travel Installed flow characteristic — Actual system flow plotted against valve opening. Pressure drops vary with valve travel when valves are installed with pumps, piping, fittings and other process equipment

References 1. Niesen, M., Using installed gain to improve valve selection. Chem. Eng. October 2008, pp. 34–37. 2. Fitzgerald, B. and Linden, C., The control valve’s hidden impact on the bottom line. Valve Manufacturer’s Association, Washington, D.C., 2003. 3. “Perry’s Chemical Engineer’s Handbook,” 8th ed., McGraw Hill, N.Y., 2008.

People WHO’S WHO



Paul Bradley becomes business manager —specialties peroxygens group for Solvay Chemicals (Houston). W. Troy Roder, president and CEO of Houston-based Foster Wheeler USA becomes chairman and CEO of Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd. (Reading, England). ABB (Zurich, Switzerland) names Daniel Huber business unit manager, open control systems. Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont



(Wilmington, Del.), has been appointed chair by the board of directors, succeeding Charles Holliday, Jr., who is retiring. Raymond Peat is named director of business development at Bord na Mona Environmental Products U.S. (Greensboro, N.C.). Fluoropolymers manufacturer Dyneon LLC (Oakdale, Minn.), a 3M company, names Robert Moore U.S. business director and appoints Dawn McArthur to lead the U.S. sales team.


Rob Gellings is the new leader of the advanced manufacturing solutions business for engineering and systems integration company Maverick Technologies (Columbia, Ill.). Scott Thibault becomes vice-president of sales and marketing for CPFD Software LLC (Albuquerque, N.M.). Herman Purutyan becomes CEO of bulk-solids-handling specialist Jenike & Johnson (Tyngsborough, Mass.). ■ Suzanne Shelley

Raymond® Flash Dryers Provides for the rapid removal of moisture from micron and mesh size particles that release moisture quickly, primarily as surface water. These versatile flash dryers also economically handle filter cakes and slurries with up to 90% moisture content, and achieve product moistures as low as 0.01%.

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Feature Report

Maximizing Heat-Transfer Fluid Longevity H







Proper selection, monitoring and maintenance can protect fluids and components from damage due to thermal degradation, oxidation damage and contamination










































































n-Hexocosane (C26H54) COC flash point : 215°C / 419°F Molecular weight : 366.7 grams/mole

Excess Heat



















n-Dodecane (C12H26) COC Flash Point: 71°C / 160°F Molecular weight: 170.34 grams/mole

















n-Tetradecane (C14H30) COC flash point : 99°C / 210°F Molecular weight : 198.4 grams/mole

Heavy carbonaceous residues

Gaston Arseneault Petro-Canada Lubricants, a Suncor Energy business


aced with increased workloads and time and budget constraints that often restrict external training support, many chemical process operators are forced to get the most out of their heat transfer system with less help. This article offers recommendations for how to carry out proactive maintenance on heat-transfer fluids, to maximize their useful life and minimize problems associated with fluid degradation, such as excessive downtime for unplanned maintenance when the heat transfer system has become unsafe or is no longer able to carry heat in a reliable manner. It is useful for anyone developing or refreshing asset-care-management programs related to heat-transfer fluids and systems. Discussed below are the most common fluid-related problems encountered by heat-transfer systems and a variety of potential solutions. While individual system designs and variations in process and operating conditions make each application unique, all heat-transfer fluids share many common attributes, making these recommendations widely applicable. Ultimately, our goal is to educate those involved with the operation and maintenance of liquid-phase heat-transfer systems, both large and


FIGURE 1. In this example with heat-transfer fluid n-hexacosane, thermal degradation occurs when excess heat drives the cracking of a straight-chain hydrocarbon (not shown is the formation of reactive free radicals, which have been omitted for clarity)

small, that use an organic-based heattransfer fluid. The organics include chemical aromatics, fluids based on petroleum derivatives, silicone or glycol, the polyalphaolefins (PAO; also referred to as API Group IV-based fluids) and more. A properly designed and operated heat-transfer system can be the biggest ally in maintaining (and even increasing) productivity while reducing overall maintenance and production costs.

It starts with smart selection

The selection of the heat-transfer fluid — whether at the system design phase, or on an ongoing basis after commissioning — should not be taken lightly. Fluid selection should not be dictated solely by the purchase price or any single physical characteristic. Rather, a variety of factors should be considered: • The potential impact on workers of a given fluid, in terms of adequate training and protection that must be implemented to address hazards related to potential exposure to the fluid, in both its vapor form (inhalation risk and mist concentration) and liquid form (skin contact). In addition to direct exposure, the choice of the fluid could impact productivity engendering additional handling

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

and paperwork protocols involving other internal resources within the company, such as the health and safety advisors, medical care personnel, personnel in the receiving department and so forth • Freight charges related to delivery of fresh product • Cost associated with the pickup, handling and disposal of the used oil and drums • Proven fluid performance beyond fresh oil data (for instance, if vendor data is able to demonstrate the retention of fresh oil properties after some time in service, as demonstrated by extensive oxidation and thermal stability data) • Can the current system accommodate the fluid being considered (in terms of compatibility with sealing materials, existence of a properly sized expansion reservoir, suitable match between the fluid properties and the existing hardware, such as the pump and safety-relief valve) • Miscibility with current heat-transfer fluids if partial (rather than full) changeout is needed • Documented success by the vendor in your type of application • Level of liability coverage, service and expertise the fluid maker and distributor bring to the table

All photos: Petro-Canada Lubricants, a Suncor Energy business

FIGURE 2. Excessive thermal stress often results in a breakdown of the heattransfer fluid, and the carbonaceous byproducts can build up on the inside surfaces of pipes

Further discussion of initial fluid selection is beyond the scope of this article, but is covered in Ref. [1–7]. Over time, the most common threats to the life of heat-transfer fluids (and sometimes the entire system) include the following: • Thermal degradation • Oxidative degradation • Process contamination • Contamination by other materials Each threat is discussed below, along with findings from real case studies, and practical recommendations for how to deal with these challenges.

Thermal degradaTion

Regardless of the chemistry of the heat-transfer media, thermal degradation can occur whenever the heat source provides more energy than the heat-transfer media can absorb and carry away at that particular time [8]. Figure 1 shows a simple example of the thermal degradation of a typical petroleum-based heat-transfer fluid (n-hexacosane) with ISO viscosity grade 32. In this case, the fluid is a distribution of molecules of various lengths, averaging 26 carbons long. As shown in Figure 1, when the energy submitted to the fluid exceeds the threshold necessary to start breaking the stable covalent carbon-carbon bonds, the result is the formation of shorter hydrocarbons. The example in Figure 1 shows the scission (cracking) of a perfect straight, long-chain alkane into shorter molecules, such as dodecane (C12) and tetradecane (C14), each having a lower boiling and flashpoint and viscosity compared to the starting C26 hydrocarbon. The systematic result of thermal degradation is a reduction in the overall fluid viscosity and increased volatility, which increases the risk of

leakage and loss through evaporation. Thermal cracking increases the vapor pressure, lowers the flashpoint and fire point, and sometimes, reduces autoignition temperature (AIT). As the name implies, the AIT is the temperature at which the fluid vapors are hot enough to ignite spontaneously in absence of an ignition source [9, 10]. As shown in Figure 2, the problem worsens if left unaddressed. Reynolds discovered in 1883 [12, p. 86], that low-viscosity fluids offer the best heat transfer behavior in a forced-convection situation such as a typical heat transfer system. Based on these findings, one may think thermal cracking is advantageous from a thermal conductivity point of view. However, the resulting drop in viscosity is not necessarily favorable.

Safety risks

The concern is that the associated potential reduction of the AIT of the degraded fluid can make the operation of a closed system unsafe if the operating temperature nears or exceeds the AIT. Moreover, shortened molecules are not the only species formed during thermal degradation of the fluid. On the other hand, an open system — that is, one in which the heated fluid is constantly in contact with the atmosphere — is even less forgiving. Any drop in the heat-transfer fluid’s flashpoint and fire point (defined as the temperature at which the fluid sustains a fire for five seconds in the ASTM-D92 Cleveland Open Cup, or COC flashpoint test apparatus) could jeopardize the entire operation, considering that the fluid was likely chosen, in part, based on its fresh oil, open-cup flashpoint rating (to which a safety margin was likely added). Efforts to determine a definitive re-

lationship between a drop in flashpoint and a drop in AIT have not proven successful. Fortunately for users, in many cases where a petroleum-based fluid exhibits a relatively low flashpoint, we have seen the AIT remained high, but this is not always the case. The performance data shown in Table 1 demonstrate how progressive thermal degradation leads to steadily diminishing flashpoint and viscosity of the heat-transfer fluid. The gas chromatography distillation (GCD) test consists of a simulated distillation of the fluid in the laboratory. In the cited example, the initial distillation point (GCD 10%) drops over time, which again confirms the increased concentration of low-boiling components present in the fluid.

Performance problems

Another major consequence of thermal cracking is the formation of carbonaceous residues (Figure 2), which result from reactions of recombination. To a certain extent, these particles can be compared to soot that is produced during fuel combustion in a diesel engine, where it is documented that soot is harder than the metallic components of the engine [13]. Such unwanted carbon residues are not only abrasive toward the piping, but they also tend to stubbornly adhere and harden onto the hot surface points, forming an insulation layer inside the pipe. This occurrence often forces the user to increase the heater set temperature (increasing energy consumption) to maintain the desired operating fluid temperature. As a general rule of thumb, Wheeler [14] reports that the widely used heat-transfer fluids based on polyalkylene glycols (PAGs) begin to experience thermal degradation near 250°C (482°F). Meanwhile, Wheeler also reports that the thermal degradation of uninhibited polyethylene glycol results in a mix of five organic acids [15]. The formation of these byproduct acids leads to increased corrosion over time in high-temperature systems. Of similar importance is the fact that even systems running at temperatures that are considered to be relatively mild (for example, around 149–204°C or 300–400°F), are not ex-

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Table 1. AnAlysis DAtA showing thermAl DegrADAtion of

Feature Report empt from the ravages that elevated temperatures can bring, in terms of the thermal cracking of the heattransfer fluid. For example, consider a system in which the fluid experienced a change in physical properties, combined with oil-flow issues (for instance, from a defective pump, a fluid containing solids, or some piping restriction or pluggage) or a problem with the heater (for instance, the heater coil or electrical element has baked-on carbon that acts as an insulation layer forcing a higher energy demand to maintain the target fluid outlet temperature). Such factors can cause a rise in the skin-film temperature (the temperature of the fluid immediately touching the heated surface). Any combination of the conditions mentioned above can cause the skinfilm temperature to be significantly higher than the temperature of the fluid circulating in the center of the heated pipe (which is called the bulk oil temperature). The larger the gap between skin film and bulk oil temperature, the more energy the fluid tries to distribute within itself through turbulence. At some point, the fluid at the heated surface will receive more energy than it can absorb (its heat capacity), carry and release (its thermal conductivity), resulting in thermal degradation of the fluid.

Minimization strategies

Discussed below are ways to minimize the thermal degradation of a heattransfer fluid in open systems. Use the right fluid for the job. By choosing a fluid with a high thermal stability, Guyer and Brownell [16] suggest that most problems associated with localized or temporary temperature excursion can be prevented. Ashman [17] also emphasizes the importance of using a heat-transfer fluid with a suitable thermal stability for the application. Hudson, Sahasranaman [6, 7] and many others acknowledge that petroleum-based fluids of pharmaceutical quality produced by a severe hydrogenation and hydrocracking process (also referred to as “white mineral oils”) tend to have greater thermal stability compared to petroleum base oils that are produced from other refining methods [6, 7]. 34

the heAt-trAnsfer fluiD At A meAt-processing fAcility

sample date,

flashpoint, °c





08/10/01 06/11/02

water content, ppm

Viscosity at 40 °c,

gas chromatoraphy distillation (gDc)**

(centistokes, cst)

10% boiling, °c

90% boiling, °c

% boiling below 335°c







































(Karl fisher)

After startup and shutdown procedure modification of April 2003 06/11/03


New fluid properties


156 —









* COC represents analysis via the ASTM-D92 Cleveland Open Cup (COC) flashpoint test apparatus. ** GCD = gas chromatography distillation. The GCD test consists of a simulated distillation of the fluid in the laboratory. Comparison with the fresh-oil boiling curve allows for the detection of lighter and heavier molecules in the fluids.

Use appropriate venting. Venting involves the periodic release (from the fluid and the system) of the light, more highly volatile hydrocarbons that form during thermal cracking. Venting is typically carried out by circulating some of the hot fluid to the expansion reservoir, so that those molecules with a relatively high vapor pressure can naturally migrate into the gas phase above the fluid. Then, depending on the system design, the vapors are released directly into the atmosphere or sent to a collection drum or tank, although laws governing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other environmental trends cause most users to collect the condensed low-boilers and properly dispose of them. Fresh fluid needs to be added periodically, to maintain the desired fluid level (to prevent pump starvation and cavitation when the system charge contracts after a shutdown). As a precautionary note, users should remember that fresh fluid must never be added directly into the hot oil stream; rather it should be added into the expansion tank or other cool reservoirs connected to the system. Venting continuously or for extended periods is not advised, because the resulting rise in the bulk fluid temperature in the expansion tank will accelerate oxidation (discussed below). We recommend the use of an oilanalysis program to determine the rate of generation of low-boilers dur-

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

ing any operation. With proper venting and analysis, users can establish how often, and for how long, the fluid must be periodically vented, in order to safely operate a high temperature system with a fluid that stays in good condition (maintaining characteristics that are similar to the fresh oil for as long as possible). Adopt proper startup and shutdown procedures. The successful startup of any heat-transfer system is important, since the faster the heattransfer fluid reaches its desired operating temperature, the faster the facility can produce its products and begin to fulfill orders. This becomes even more important for systems that stop and start up regularly. One may say that running the pump and the heater for a few extra hours to accommodate a slower, more-gentle startup is not cost-effective, but for many applications, such an approach pays its own dividends. For instance, by maintaining a more-gradual heating profile at startup, the fluid will be able to effectively remove heat and reduce the risk of thermal degradation, and minimizing the formation and buildup of baked-on residues. The net result will be extended plannedmaintenance intervals and greater component life expectancy. Shutdown procedures also impact system efficiency and fluid life. For instance, Stone [19] and others recommend maintaining oil circulation after

FIGURE 3. These illustrations shows the type of varnish (left) and sludge (center, right) that can result from oxidation-related degradation of a petroleum-based, chemical aromatic and polyalkylene glycol (PAG) fluid

the heater is turned off until it’s been cooled to 65°C (150°F). The refractory material in a furnace is designed to retain heat for as long as possible, so stopping the oil flow immediately after the heat source has been turned off provides an opportunity for the stagnant fluid to crack, forming lowboiling fractions and carbon residues. This negatively impacts the life of the fluid and the overall heater efficiency. With regard to smaller systems such as temperature-controlled units (TCUs) or extruders, many designs have improved greatly in recent years and now maintain fluid circulation for some period of time following shutdown as a common approach. An insufficient shutdown interval was the overall problem at the facility whose degraded fluid was shown in Table 1. After a service call, it was determined that the 249°C (480°F) system was shut down on Friday evening with only a short circulation period following shutdown. It was fired up again at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, to allow for production to start at 9:00 a.m. A full system shutdown and cleaning was deemed impossible by the user at that time, so the fluid was left untouched, but better future practices were implemented. The last set of results in Table 1 shows that two months after the initial analysis, the rate of generation of low-boilers had

diminished (as seen in the percentage boiled below 335°C). As a direct result, the facility did not add any new oil. The increase in kinematic viscosity and flashpoint, and the fact that the strainer no longer collected carbon residues in any appreciable amount, provided evidence of improvement. Consult your suppliers about proposed design or operational changes. Business is booming, more production is expected from the plant, more parts must be produced, and lines need to be added. Do you need to increase the operating temperature? What about the flowrate, is it adequate? What does your heater manufacturer think of the proposed addition? Operators should get as much input as possible from their system designer. manufacturers, and parts and fluid suppliers before any major changes are implemented. Stone [18] recommends that operators should maintain an updated list of contacts and keep it handy for questions or troubleshooting help. It is relevant to document the skinfilm temperature in the current system and in the proposed operating conditions. Make certain your fluid supplier confirms your current heattransfer fluid’s ability to handle any new operating parameters. Maintain, inspect and perform preventative maintenance on sys-

tem components. Even though liquid-phase systems commonly operate above the flashpoint of the fluid (but below its auto-ignition temperature), the risk of fire should be very low in a normal, well-designed system, especially one that is kept oil-tight, leakfree and subject to regular inspection and maintenance [19]. For any system where heat is purposely generated to raise the fluid temperature, ensuring proper operation of the heat source is critical to achieve optimum performance. Daily inspections, using a consistent checklist of items to monitor are recommended [18, 20]. For instance, fired heaters should be inspected for flame impingement, especially if the burner is oversized or cycles frequently. In the case of flame impingement, the flame (whose temperature is typically on the order of 1,093–1,650°C, or 2,000–3,000°F) subjects the oil tubes to excessive localized heat flux, which can cause tube deformation and coking (resulting from thermal degradation, as seen in Figure 2), and leakage with increased risk of fire [21]. In the case of systems equipped with immersed electrical heaters, excessive watt density, lack of fluid turbulence around the hot tubes, or insufficient flowrate often causes premature degradation of the fluid. Such degradation can be offset in part by proper fluid selection and maintenance practices [22, 23]. In any system, the oil-circulation pump can be compared to the heart, moving the fluid around. The pump should be well-maintained. Specifically, drive bearings on the electric motor and pump seals should receive proper attention. Centrifugal pumps should ideally operate at or near their best efficiency point (BEP), with bearings well-maintained and seals working properly. Finally, the expansion reservoir, piping, connections and valves should be selected and maintained appropriately, as part of a world-class maintenance program. Meanwhile, the life blood of the operation — the fluid itself — should be tested regularly. While further discussion of the types of tests, their significance and data interpretation is beyond the scope of this article, the

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Feature Report American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Method D5372 should be followed to properly monitor the condition of heat-transfer fluids [24].

Oxidative degRadatiOn

For the purpose of this article, we define fluid oxidation as the reaction of the heat-transfer fluid with oxygen from air. The oxidative degradation of organic compounds is extremely complex, as it involves a series of chemical reactions that result in the formation of high energy, unstable and reactive free-radicals and peroxides. One initial free-radical allows for the possibility of forming two radical species, which results in the formation of a variety of oxygen-containing species, mainly organic acids. These long-chained organic acids may be weak on their own, but as their concentration grows in the fluid, the oil eventually becomes more corrosive [25]. These acids also polymerize — often to a level that is sufficient to modify the fluid properties, causing an increase in viscosity, discoloration and eventually, precipitation as lacquer, varnish and sludge [26] such as that shown in Figure 3. The varnish formation is seldom a concern in heat transfer applications because of relatively large pipe diameters and valves with high tolerances. However, further oxidation will lead to the formation of heavier acids and sludge. Oxidationrelated sludge is not very soluble in heat-transfer fluids, so it tends to adhere to metallic surfaces or settle in areas of low flow and low turbulence. Such sludge also tends to settle at the bottom and the sides of the expansion tank, and can also circulate throughout the system and make its way into control valves. Fluids for a specific project are generally chosen based on their properties in a fresh state. Any alteration of the fluid physical properties (resulting from degradation or contamination) could negatively impact the heat absorption and dissipation capabilities of the heat-transfer media. Table 2 provides oil-analysis data for an uninhibited, chemical aromatic (synthetic), heat-transfer fluid that experienced oxidation in a large 27,000-L (7,132-gal) system in Europe. (In this 36

context, the term “uninhibited” refers to the fact that the fluid does not contain additives such as anti-oxidants and rust-corrosion inhibitors to prevent degradation.) The acid number (AN) — as determined by ASTM D664 Method and used to quantify the level of acids in an oil sample — was increasing over time. The distillation of the fluid, represented by the GCD 10% boiling point, shows the initial boiling is at the same temperature as fresh oil, so thermal degradation does not seem to be an issue in this example. We notice the viscosity has risen by 30% over time and the end of the distillation curve (GCD 90%) is shifting toward higher temperatures, indicating the increasing presence of heavy compounds not found in the fresh oil. An increasing amount of insoluble particles are forming, and the AN values are rising. By connecting the dots, we conclude that oil oxidation is causing an increased formation of heavy acidic polymers that will foul the low-flow areas of the system. This degraded oil, with its higher viscosity, cannot deliver the same performance capabilities as fresh oil, and in today’s context of high energy costs, any loss of efficiency is costly. In the example discussed above, the company could not afford a shutdown to clean its system this year. Instead, operators opted for a partial fluid replacement of 50% of the entire charge this year (incurring an expenditure of roughly $175,000, excluding waste oil disposal and labor) and are planning a full drain, clean, flush and refill next year. In general, fluid oxidation imposes great cost penalties on any system; the selection of a fluid with better oxidation stability could have avoided this massive spending and offered many more years of useful life.

Minimization strategies

Discussed below are several options that are available to avoid or minimize potential oxidative degradation. Inert gas blanketing. In closed systems, the most effective way to eliminate the potential for oxidation is to install an inert gas blanket in the expansion tank headspace. Hudson [29] provides details and recommenda-

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

tions on how to install such systems. The basic principle relies on substituting air (which contains oxygen) with an inert gas (most often nitrogen, although carbon dioxide and argon may also be considered) in the only location where warm oil can come into contact with oxygen from air — the expansion tank headspace. Displacing oxygen that might react with the fluids virtually eliminates oxidation. The pressure of the inert gas is maintained slightly above atmospheric pressure. Gas-blanketing systems, including the safety-relief valve, require ongoing inspection and maintenance to prevent inert gas leaks and limit unnecessary, costly gas consumption. Choose a fluid formulated for the job. Oxidation-inhibitor additives are also available to enhance the performance of heat-transfer fluids. Most chemical aromatics sold today contain one or a few varieties of molecules and do not contain any performance enhancing additives such as antioxidants or rust and corrosion inhibitors. The additives that are used in heattransfer fluids are different from the ones found in other industrial lubricants that are not subjected to such elevated temperatures. Specifically, in the case of antioxidants, some technologies combat oxidation by reacting with free radicals before they can lead to acid formation, while others attack intermediate peroxides [25]. Fluid selection is complicated by the fact that it is extremely difficult to determine the oxidation stability of a heat-transfer fluid by its technical data sheet. Even though many of the heat-transfer fluids on the market today are unadditized, their respective marketing materials often praise their fouling resistance and promote their outstanding oxidation stability. Thus, users should assess all product claims with a critical eye. In general, systems with an enormous amount of oil tend to be more forgiving because it takes a longer time to oxidize a larger volume of fluid to a point where it raises concerns in terms of oil analysis results. In these cases, user experience, references, testimonials and competitive benchmarking studies should be evaluated in conjunction with vendor data, to

Table 2. OIl-aNalYSIS DaTa DeSCRIbING a FlUID THaT HaS eXPeRIeNCeD OXIDaTION (SOURCe : PeTRO-CaNaDa lUbRICaNTS, a SUNCOR eNeRGY COMPaNY) Sample date, mm/ dd/yy

Flash point (COC), °C

Water content, ppm (Karl Fisher)

Viscosity at 40°C, cSt

acid number (aN*), mg/KOH/g

Solids (insolubles), wt.%

GCD 10% boiling, °C

90% boiling, °C

% boiling below 335°C




























*Acid Number (AN) is obtained using ASTM D664 titration method, which is used to quantify the levels of acid in an oil sample.

assess the likely longevity of a fluid for the application at hand and avoid costly changeouts in large systems. Compared to closed or blanketed systems, open systems allow the hot fluid to come in direct contact with air, making oxidative damage a harsh reality rather than a possibility. In these cases, the importance of choosing a robust product to maintain high productivity standards becomes even more important. For example, an electronic company operating an open system at 175°C (350°F) was replacing its heat-transfer fluid every six months, after which time the fluid had become viscous and dark with a burnt odor. Switching to a fluid with better resistance to oxidation enabled longer service life. In fact, judging by the oil-analysis results, the oil properties still look like new after more than 24 months of service in these harsh conditions. This obviously saves the facility money in terms of time, labor and fluid purchases. In closed systems with no inert gas blanketing, the key is to maintain the fluid temperature in the expansion tank below 65°C (150°F), if possible. The main reason is because there is a direct relationship between the temperature and the rate of oxidation. For instance, the rate of reaction between a petroleum-derived oil with oxygen (doubles for every 10°C (15°F) increase above 80°C (175°F) (with slight variations depending on the author) [28], so the higher the temperature the more severe the degradation. And this does not take into account the fact that the oxidation reaction is exponential and is accelerated by contaminants such as copper or iron particles, water and other catalysts. Oxidation could occur in systems with a design that allows the oil to circulate through the expansion reservoir with full flow, either directly after the heater or on the return from the heat users. Such design exposes the hot fluid directly to oxygen from

air, thereby acceleraing oxidation and greatly reducing fluid life. Using the oil-analysis results, fluid oxidation can be monitored by paying close attention to acid number (AN) and gas chromatographic distillation (GCD) results.

MiniMizing process contaMination

Process contamination can be extremely damaging to the heat-transfer fluid and the system components. As is often the case, logic suggests that contamination is unlikely since the pressure is greater on the fluid side, but real life experience has shown on many occasions that process material can enter the heat-transfer fluid stream. The urgency required to fix a process leak really depends on the severity, the type of contaminant (chemistry), and the heat transfer media it comes in contact with. The case of contamination by water is discussed in the next section, although water is sometimes part of the process. For example, in the oil-and-gas industry, a natural-gas-extraction facility may experience an unintended leak of the process hydrocarbons into the heat-transfer fluid system. Being hydrocarbon-based, the heated gaseous molecules will mix very well with heat-transfer fluids of a similar chemistry, such as petroleum-based fluids, chemical aromatics and PAO Group IV synthetic fluids ([4] provides details on competing fluid types). Within a short time, the viscosity of the entire fluid charge will be greatly reduced and its overall volatility increased. In a situation such as this one, emphasis must be put into venting the heat-transfer fluid to release those light hydrocarbons into the proper collection device in order to maintain a safe operation, and if at all safely possible, to keep the unit running until the next shutdown opportunity to repair the leak. Another example of process con-

tamination in the petroleum industry occurs frequently at asphalt terminals. Similar to the example discussed above, any unintended ingress of asphalt in the heat-transfer fluid circuit will mix very well with most of the fluids, since the majority are based on long hydrocarbon chains. However, the highly viscous hydrocarbon asphalt will quickly thicken the fluid. We have seen heat-transfer fluids increase to several hundred centistokes or even become too thick to measure at 40°C (104°F), thereby ruining the fluid’s ability to transfer heat effectively. The heavy asphalt components will also coat the system internals and plug small lines, meaning a full system cleaning and flushing will eventually become necessary to restore the system to efficient operation. In some cases, the contaminant itself may be inert to the fluid but it may still react with traces of moisture to form acidic or insoluble compounds. These byproduct contaminants can accelerate rust and cause corrosion and fluid degradation. Depending on the process contaminants that are inadvertently leaking into the fluid system, it might be possible to detect them (qualitatively) via oil analysis, using the common elemental analysis method like Inductively Coupled Plasma – Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES). Sometimes the contaminant can be detected indirectly after it has reacted with another compound in the fluid. In some cases regular oil analysis will not detect the process contaminant and specialized methodology and instruments are needed, such as those found in specialized research-and-development facilities. A quantitative evaluation to determine the type and extent of the contamination generally requires sophisticated equipment (such as an electronic microscope, or gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry), as well as well-trained analysts

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Feature Report who are knowledgeable about the product being tested and informed on what contaminant types to look for. Whenever a process leak is suspected, it is advisable to reach out to your fluid supplier’s technical contact immediately and explain the situation. A sample of the fluid should be analyzed right away.

OtheR sOuRces OF cOntaminatiOn

In addition to contamination that can arise from process materials (discussed above), heat-tranfer fluids may also become contaminated by the environment (rain or snow), condensation, foreign liquids (such as the wrong fluid put in the system), or the ingress of air. For systems where the expansion reservoir is outside and vented to the atmosphere, it is critical to have — at a minimum — an enclosed tank with a 180-deg, goose-neck pipe on the top. This may sound very basic, but we were once called to investigate unusual noise coming from the hot oil piping at a saw mill. After assessing the noise, we climbed up to the top of the burner building to examine the expansion tank. The 12-by-12-in. steel cover normally bolted to the side of the 250-gal expansion tank was laying on the catwalk, covered by a foot of dirt, wood dust and snow and no one could remember who had been up there last. Rainwater and snow falling directly into the expansion tank from the open hole was responsible for the high water content we later measured in the fluid and the knocking noise in the piping below. New construction or recently cleaned systems or heat exchangers are not typically flushed before commissioning. However, in systems where a full or partial cleaning was performed, traces of aggressive cleaning fluids or water-based solutions that are not removed could accelerate corrosion, fouling or create their own polymerization and insoluble residues [29]. In newly commissioned systems, aside from the typical wood debris, welding rods and rags, residual water from pressure testing is most often the culprit for startup problems. Unlike many industrial applications, water in the heattransfer fluid is more easily detectable 38

by operators and unforgiving because it is heated above its boiling point during service in most applications. Entrained water will affect various fluid chemistries in different ways. In lubricating and circulation fluids based on mineral and synthetic Group IV PAO oils, prolonged exposure to water may cause the following [30]: • Hydrolysis or precipitation of oil additives (for those oils that have them) • Accelerated rust and corrosion of system internals • Accelerate degradation (oxidation) • Cause pump cavitation and wear • Create a gargling noise in the expansion tank and knocking in the hot oil piping Based on years of examining real-life oil-analysis results, we can say that in general, water does not appear to pose immediate productivity concerns at concentrations below 500 ppm (0.05 wt.%), although we have encountered certain, more-sensitive systems where lower concentrations did have a noticeable impact. However, residual water at concentrations above 1,000 ppm (0.1 wt.%) becomes alarming and calls for investigation and removal. In the case of mineral oils, the best practical way to remove the water from a heat-transfer fluid while the system is running involves more of a two-step process. First, vent the fluid, allowing the water vapor to migrate into the expansion tank. Once inside the expansion tank, some of the steam will have sufficient vapor pressure to leave through the vent pipe or safetyrelief valve when it opens. In the case of PAG-based fluids, the numerous oxygen atoms in their structure produces strong hygroscopic behavior that is directly proportional to relative humidity in the environment. Wheeler [15] reports that at 50% relative humidity, pure ethylene glycol absorbs 20% water at equilibrium. This can cause serious concerns. Lastly, operators must take steps to guard against potential contamination by airborne vapors or particles that could affect the fluid. Just think of a saw mill example, where entrained cellulose dust from the wood dust may not degrade the fluid itself, but will affect the fluid's ability to flow, which

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will reduce the thermal efficiency and accelerate fouling in the system [29]. Such an occurrence is more likely to happen if the expansion tank is located in a very dusty environment.

Minimization strategies

Discussed below are a variety of techniques for minimizing contamination that can threaten heattransfer fluids. Investigate and fix. All cases of contamination should be investigated and fixed, and such incidents should also be reported to your fluid supplier, for advice on the potential impact on the fluid. As mentioned earlier, sometimes the contaminant can be evacuated, boiled off or it could ruin the fluid and foul the system in a short time. Flush new constructions or recently cleaned systems before startup. Operating companies and builders seldom factor in the cost of a system flush, since they often assume the blowing of the water will be done correctly and the contractors will not leave debris in the piping. Unfortunately, discovering such contaminants after the system is running can prove to be costly down the road. While nobody needs the extra costs of flushing a new system (especially when the fluid of choice is relatively expensive, like PAGs or silicone-based fluids), it is nonetheless a good practice. With systems filled with mineral oils, circulating a virgin base oil of the same viscosity as the heat-transfer fluid of choice is a cost-effective way to remove any potential contaminants. Keep an eye on filters and strainers. Solids collection in the oil filters or strainers should be noted in a log book and monitored closely, preferably with photos taken. The size, texture and color of the deposits all tell a story, and such residues can be sent periodically to a laboratory with sophisticated analytical equipment for accurate identification. Keep in mind that different solids may come from more than one source, and may become discolored, so don’t jump to conclusions. Similarly solids from the previous fluids may reside in the system for a long time before an event such as pipe work or partial fluid replace-

ment creates enough disturbance to loosen them. We see this in cases where a used furnace is bought and commissioned without cleaning and flushing prior to the connection to the main system. Often solids may have a familiar smell or texture that suggests an origin, but could well be something else. For example, a plant was using a heat-transfer fluid that caused valve malfunction because of deposits accumulating inside the valve spools. The black, abrasive deposits looked and felt like carbon particles (abrasive, gritty between the fingers). However, lab analysis identified the material as copper sulfide, formed by the localized chemical attack of sulfur present in the fluid’s base stock onto the copper from the brass valves. The facility could have spent several thousands of dollars in parts and labor to upgrade all the valves to more expensive stainless steel. Instead it

References 1. Guffey II, G.E., Sizing up heat transfer fluids and heaters”, Chem. Eng., Oct. 1997, pp. 126–131. 2. Shanley, A., and Kamiya, T., Heat transfer fluids: A buyers’ market, Chem. Eng., Sept. 1998, pp. 63–66. 3. Arseneault, G., Seven criteria for selecting heat transfer fluid, Process Heating, January 2008, pp. 2–3. 4. Arseneault, G., Safe handling of heat transfer fluids, Chem. Eng. Prog., April 2008, pp. 42–47. 5. Crabb, C., A fluid market for heat transfer, Chem. Eng., April 2001, pp. 73–76. 6. Hudson, J., Choosing the heat transfer fluid, Process Heating, January 2007. 7. Sahasranaman, K., Get the most from hightemperature heat-transfer-fluid systems, Chem. Eng., March 2005, pp. 46–50. 8. Guyer E.C. and Brownell D.L., “Handbook of Applied Thermal Design,” McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0070253536, 1988, pp. 5–46. 9. Singh, J., “Heat Transfer Fluids and Systems for Process and Energy Applications,” CRC, ISBN 0824771915, 1985, p. 214. 10. Petro-Canada, “TechData: Handbook of Petroleum Product Terms,” Revised Edition 89.06, 1989. 11. Kay, J.M., and Nederman, R.M., “Fluid Mechanics and Transfer Processes”, ISBN 0521303036, 1985, p. 18. 12. Peters, M.S., “Elementary Chemical Engineering,” McGraw-Hill, 1984, p. 85. 13. Petro-Canada, “TechBulletin: The Truth About Soot,” Edition 89.06, 1989. 14. Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE), “Basic Handbook of Lubrication,” 2nd ed., 2003, Section 3, p. 8. 15. Wheeler, K., Technical Insights into Unihibited Ethylene Glycol, Process Cooling & Equipment, July/August 2002. 16. Guyer, E.C., and Brownell, D.L., “Handbook

switched to a properly formulated fluid based on highly refined API Group II base oils containing only traces of sulfur. This replacement fluid has proven to be harmless to copper components after years of service, and has had the added benefit of extending oil changes considerably, based on oilanalysis results. ■ Edited by Suzanne Shelley

Author Gaston Arseneault is a senior technical advisor with Petro-Canada Lubricants, a Suncor Energy business (1310 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5J 1K2; Phone: 973-673-3164; E-mail: garseneault@suncor. com), located in the Newark, N.J., area. With the company for more than ten years, Arseneault holds an M.S. in analytical chemistry from the Université de Montréal in Canada and is a member of Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, from which he has obtained the Certified Lubrication Specialist (CLS) and Oil Monitoring Analyst (OMA I) certifications. He also holds the Machinery Lubrication Technician I certification from the International Council for Machinery Lubrication.

of Applied Thermal Design,” McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0070253536, 1988, pp. 5–47. 17. Ashman, L.A., Troubleshooting problems in heat transfer systems, Process Heating, October 1988, 18. Stone, C.D., “Eight tips to extend your thermal fluid system’s service life,” Process Heating, April 2003. 19. BP (British Petroleum), “Transcal Heat Transfer Fluids”, BP Printing, England, Document # MP59, 1979. 20. Arseneault, G., Preventative maintenance for heat transfer systems, World Pumps, April 2008, pp. 40–43. 21. Vinagayam, K., Minimizing flame impingement in fired heaters, Chem. Eng., pp. May 2007, pp. 70–73. 22. Klein, R., Immersion heaters: Selection and implementation, Chem. Eng., January 2006, pp. 44–50. 23. Arseneault, G., Preventive maintenance for heat transfer systems using electrical immersion heaters, Process Heating, November 2006, p. 12. 24. ASTM International, ASTM D5372-04: Standard Guide for Evaluation of Hydrocarbon Heat Transfer Fluid, 2004, p. 3. 25. The Lubrizol Corporation, “Ready Reference for Grease,” The Lubrizol Corp., Wickliffe, Ohio, Version 2.00, May 2007, pp. 36–37. 26. Singh, J., “Heat Transfer Fluids and Systems for Process and Energy Applications”, CRC, ISBN 0824771915, 1986, p. 179. 27. Hudson, J., The Expansion Tank, Process Heating, September 2007, accessed online at 28. Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers, Alberta Section, “Basic Handbook of Lubrication,” 2nd ed., Section 26, 2003, p. 8. 29. Guyer, E.C., and Brownell, D.L., “Handbook of Applied Thermal Design,” McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988, pp. 5–50. 30. Bloch, H.P., “Practical Lubrication for Industrial Facilities,” The Fairmount Press, 2000, pp. 464–465.

Circle 20 on p. 62 or go to

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AreAs ripe for integrAtion

Feature Report

Smooth Your Retrieval of PlantDesign Data

Neil McPhater Aveva Group plc


ost chemical engineers involved with operating large chemical process facilities have encountered the following challenge: Several large engineering contractors built the facility in multiple phases, using different computer-software models. Retrieving drawings or data in both digital and non-digital form in such a situation only adds complexity to operations, maintenance and revamp activities and often introduces yet another problem to solve in each instance. Obviously, these plants would be better off with one complete computer model of the entire operating facility. And with the recent shift by software vendors to support interoperability, a single model can be achieved without having to reenact the design of the entire plant. Interoperability is a term used increasingly in engineering circles to refer to the sharing and exchange of digital information. In principle, it’s


• Integrating similar model types (such as 3D models) from different software vendors • Integrating data between different types of models (such as 3D models with P&IDs) • Integrating similar model types but different types of data (such as 3D mechanical and 3D process design data)

Even after construction and startup, plant design data are needed for operations, maintenance and revamps. But working with a plethora of formats and platforms introduces its own set of challenges as if all members of a networked engineering team can exchange data freely across different software products and sources of engineering content. However, integration is not achieved with the simple click of a mouse. Information is often locked away in “silos”, so creating a complete knowledge base from disparate engineering information can seem like knitting with spaghetti. Such spaghetti conspires against plant information integrity.

The role of engineering portals

At the individual interaction level, the operations engineer would be much more effective with common, transpar-

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

ent access to all engineering content via one engineering portal that supports integrated operations. An engineering portal is primarily read-only. The purpose is to give the (operations) engineer the widest access to all plant information from his or her screen, which helps in planning and decision making. The purpose of the portal is not to carry out changes in engineering design (greenfield or brownfield). Changes should still be carried out in the “integrated engineering and design” software applications where the engineering design changes are mastered. Typically changes are carried out in two-dimensional (2D) and

standards make interoperability possible


n the mid-to-late 1990s, the Norwegian Posc Caesar Assn. (PCA), assisted by the Dutch SPI-NL consortium established and developed ISO 15926 for the Offshore oil and gas industry that has now become an international data standard. In recent years, Fiatech has brought fresh U.S. vigor to accelerate the deployment of ISO 15926 and ensure its wider acceptability. This American-European double act is speeding up industry adoption of market-acceptable standards. As PCA’s efforts over the last decade have shown, the development and successful adoption of such data standards and methodologies as ISO 15926 and BIM (the Building Information Model being adopted in architecture and building design) take time and effort. When handling projects measured in millions of dollars per day — or even per hour — engineers are justifiably cautious about adopting new practices. For instance, market adoption of BIM by structural engineers isn’t expected to reach a tipping point until after 2015. However, the extent of Norway’s ambitions is exemplified by its vision of the offshore future — integrated operations. It strives toward a digital infrastructure and information platform to enable remote operation from an onshore control center of unmanned oiland-gas production facilities in the North and Barents Seas within the next decade.

What you need to know about standards

There are many technical ins and outs to standards that are not important for a chemical engineer. The main thing to keep in mind is to stipulate applicable data standards on commercial contracts. The consequences can be significant when close cooperation between engineering contractors and sub-contractors is necessary during the design and construction contract or during project handover to the owner/operator. In fact, the handover phase is where a lot of valuable engineering intelligence can be lost if standards are not part of the process. Companies giving out engineering orders, for instance, should dictate in their contract to suppliers where data are part of the deliverable, that the data be provided in a standard format such as ISO 15926. ■ Figure 1. A digital information hub is the ultimate interoperability solution, providing a centralized and secure integration platform for collaboration between different types of teams and their needs to either create, change or simply read plant design data

three-dimensional (3D) design applications. Once the design or changes to it have been completed according to the engineering approval process (approved for construction, approved for fabrication and so on) the corresponding data — appropriately version controlled — might be downloaded to the engineering portal to help manage construction planning, for example. Such portals require, in particular, structure to navigate throughout the portal to make engineering “sense” of the diverse content. This is where structured and intelligent 2D and 3D models originating from plant design can add substantial value to

the portal by making navigation user friendly for the engineers who are using it. Long after project design and construction is complete, plant owners and operators can reap rewards from such systems by organizing ongoing operations around it. A major oil and gas producer, for example, uses intelligent, 2D inspection-piping isometrics as its “engineering bible” for both onshore and offshore plant maintenance. Meanwhile, legacy 3D data for the same plant from other plant design systems can be transferred to the portal, so that all maintenance and engineering upgrades can be man-

aged together on a single system. Such data structure and information integration are made possible by contemporary data standards such as the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 15926 standard, which has advanced so it can bridge the 3D gap between legacy and incumbent plant data with no loss of engineering intelligence, for example, in piping or steelwork. This article helps bring home the benefits of interoperability and the costs that result from its absence.

Costs of doing nothing

The lack of a single computer model and structure for an entire operating facility can be found everywhere and represents a serious obstacle to the engineering industry. Indeed, a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, Md.; estimates that inadequate software interoperability may cost the U.S. capital facilities industry $15.8 billion annually — nearly 2% of the industry’s revenues. Some other reports and industry authorities set the cost at twice the NIST estimate. These reports suggest that the chemical process industries (CPI) and the architecture engineering and construction industries experience the greatest pain. The reality is that information technology often is incompatible across software products and, specifically, data models. Paradoxically, while engineering data standards were intended to address the issue and enable socalled digital convergence, they have actually been part of the problem. Nevertheless, recent progress in standardization is making inroads in several key facets of interoperability (see box, left, for more). How does digital convergence bring value to chemical engineers? The catalytic ingredient for value through digital convergence of plant design data is the networked engineering team. In this context, interoperability delivers collaborative advantage on three specific dimensions. The first is its total number of users in the collaborative network. An associated sub-dimension is the number of networked engineering teams working to-

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StepS to take toward interoperability

Feature Report gether in that network. In general, the value of a network increases disproportionately depending on the greater the number of users. For example, this is true on a much larger scale for telephone networks. The second value dimension reflects the number of sources of engineering content. Another way to describe this is the number of information “silos” connected together. As with network users, the greater the number of information “silos” that can be integrated, the greater the potential to deliver value. Finally, the third dimension of business value from the network represents the number of business boundaries spanned by the networked engineering team. Business boundaries include the number of geographical sites spanned, functions crossed, organizations covered and links in the supply chain.

Ripe opportunities in the CPI

Integrating P&IDs and the 3D models that parallel them. Many plant engineers still rely on hardcopy schematic drawings, or P&IDs, many of which have been produced at a number of different stages on different computer systems. It is much more efficient, however, to have the P&IDs in a consistent digital format. In order to do so, all the P&ID data must be assembled together. This will let the engineers manage the entire plant in a consistent way that hasn’t previously been possible. The missing piece for assembling all of this data together is one common language. Fiatech (Austin, Tex.; www. — an industry consortium that provides global leadership in identifying and accelerating the development, demonstration and deployment of fully integrated and automated technologies to deliver business value throughout the life cycle of all types of capital projects — like its European counterpart PCA, has determined that ISO 15926 be the common denominator. In theory, the use of standards is very straightforward, but often gets complicated in practice. The most basic requirement that has been met for solving the interoperability challenge is that software vendors 42


hen executed effectively, the elements below will deliver value individually from interoperability. The more points executed together, the greater the beneficial business impact.

Engineering content

• Employ data standards in a pragmatic value-driven way now; no need exists to wait for “postponed perfection” • Compare and integrate P&IDs with 3D plant design • Migrate mechanical equipment items from 3D mechanical CAD into the 3D plant design system without loss of intelligence

Business directives

• Prescribe data deliverables from projects to be contractually binding, prefer-

are now beginning to deliver the interoperability demanded by their customers by complying with ISO 15926. This enables all P&ID schematics across the entire plant to be consolidated and managed consistently. And it gives plant engineers the ability to check consistency between the 2D schematics model and the 3D model of the plant. A second data standard that is going to have increasing importance is Mimosa. This sets out a standard for plant operations and maintenance. Although less utilized than ISO 15926, Mimosa is likely to have at least as big a business impact. Integrating 3D mechanical design of equipment. Another challenge for interoperability has been the integration of 3D computer aided design (CAD) systems for mechanical design with those for plant design. Historically, mechanical CAD with its emphasis on manufacturability has been incompatible with multi-disciplinary 3D plant design. The disconnection of these two systems is a key opportunity for efficiency improvements. Consider, for instance, a plant engineer who is faced with an upgrade of a specialized piece of equipment, such as a reaction vessel. But this new item has a different shape from its decommissioned predecessor and has been designed using 3D mechanical CAD software. Interoperability between these two 3D systems would ensure accurate spatial arrangement and engineering tie-in. How can this new piece of complex

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

ably in the form of an accepted industry data standard like ISO 15926 • Be able to define/redefine business processes in a flexible way to suit value/supply chain • Be able to redefine document workflow in a flexible way

Integration platform

• Use proven, quality tools to capture and validate data from third parties • Take advantage of flexible and generic data associations • Be able to integrate non-engineering enterprise data with the operational engineering plant model • Be able to integrate realtime engineering operations data with operational engineering plant models ❏

equipment be incorporated into the existing plant without loss of engineering integrity? Recent advances allow complex, mechanical equipment items to be stored as intrinsic parts of a 3D plant-design database. A data standard called STEP AP 203 can transfer 3D mechanical CAD data. Airbus and Boeing use it to digitally verify that jet-engine designs from any manufacturer can be installed first time on their airframes. Using STEP AP 203, the plant engineer can also integrate the new equipment design into the plant design with no loss of engineering integrity, enabling errorfree and timely installation.

Required infrastructure

What sort of infrastructure is needed to overcome barriers to interoperability and deliver sustainable value from ever increasing volumes of digital information on operating plant assets? Fundamentally, a centralized and secure integration platform, or digital information hub (Figure 1), is required to provide a neutral, collaborative environment that is independent of software application and data format. Such a digital information hub needs to address not only longterm information integrity of the operational plant, but also take into account shorter term requirements for greenfield engineering projects, not to mention smooth data handover for operational startup. In this hub, engineering content from disparate data and document

sources needs to be harmonized and controlled with appropriate portal access given to networked engineering teams in plant activities like maintenance and revamps. It must support flexible administration of team processes and related document workflow. It must also use data standards to accommodate extensive data capture and validation from widely used third-party authoring tools, as well as enterprise-wide systems. A proven way to harmonize disparate structured and unstructured data in engineering portals is to associate topical data with related data in a generic way. Such generic data modeling also underpins the ISO 15926 data standard. This way, data associations required for operations activities can be easily set up. For example a reaction vessel mentioned above may be connected to Pump 123, be contained in P&ID number 456, be part of a maintenance workpack AB12 and be available as a specialist piece of equipment P123.

engineers the potential to overcome software incompatibility and add value progressively in achievable steps. Already, substantial value is being gained in the marine- and building-design industries by the pragmatic use of appropriate standards like ISO 15926. The CPI is the next frontier. Wider use of networked engineering teams

and the molding of working practices to take account of digital convergence and thereby enable greater advantage from the collaborative power of computer networks. A digital information hub appropriate to your operational needs can deliver value — both now and in the future. ■ Edited by Rebekkah Marshall


Data interoperability is a longterm trend that inexorably changes the business environment. Yet, it’s as much about the journey as the destination. This journey offers chemical and other

Author Neil McPhater is product marketing manager — interoperability & special projects at Aveva Solutions Ltd. (High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HB, U.K.; Phone: +44-1223-556626; Fax: +44-1223-556666; Email:; Website: an Aveva Group plc company, where he has responsibility for interoperability strategy and deployment in Aveva products. Originally trained as a mechanical engineer in his native Scotland and on ship at sea, McPhater worked in Switzerland, Germany and England before turning his attentions to the application of computers to support engineering. He first joined Aveva at its Cambridge headquarters in 1980 involved in a wide variety of software development, marketing and management roles. This included responsibility for delivering integration and translation solutions to the process industries. Over the last 15 years he has been an international champion of business benefit derived from data integration using standards in the process industries in such initiatives as Epistle, ISO 10303 (STEP), PISTEP, POSC Caesar Assn. and Fiatech. This experience is academically reinforced by an MBA (IT Hybrid) awarded in the year 2000. McPhater has also served on the Computer Committee of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers for a number of years and has been a member of the German Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (VDI) for the last three decades.

Gorman-Rupp has been manufacturing pumps for chemical applications since the 1930’s. They can

be found in chemical and petrochemical plants, canneries, commercial laundries, pharmaceutical and automotive plants. Whether your application requires standard centrifugal, self-priming centrifugal, submersible or positive displacement pumps, you’ll find the right Gorman-Rupp pump for the job.


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Feature Report Engineering Practice

Millichannel Reactors:

A Practical Middle Ground for Production Reactors with millimeter-scale dimensions provide mixing, heat transfer and other advantages over devices with larger dimensions, and increased robustness compared to microdevices. Here are tips to consider for using them

Martin Jönsson and Barry Johnson Alfa Laval


he desire to move from batch to continuous processes for the production of high-value organic molecules has become more widespread in recent years as evidenced by the increasing number of related studies published in the literature. The benefits of continuous flow include increased product yield, increased utility and energy utilization, improved safety and greater automation. A quest to improve the overall production economics for smaller organic molecules and many inorganic chemicals forced this change on the bulk chemicals industry many decades ago. But strong interest has not yet translated into the widespread use of continuous processes for specialty chemicals, fine chemicals and pharmaceutical manufacturing. This article proposes that the use of small-scale reactions can provide the missing link that brings continuous operation within practical reach. Consider, first, that the great number of publications that describe laboratory experiments involving dozens of different chemistries (for instance, experiments that are seeking yield improvements or hazard reductions, or simply demonstrating the translation of a batch process to continuous mode), often champion the use of microreactors. These ultra-small-scale devices work on the principle of creating short characteristic transport lengths (on the order of tens or hundreds of micrometers) with their very small, internal physical structures, and this helps to improve mixing and heat transfer rates. However, pilot and production plant managers are often resistant to adopting microdevices, wary of blockage or damage, and uncertain in the face of a general absence of demonstrated high-capacity units. This article explores the following questions: Is it necessary for fine chemicals and


ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

Diameter volume

Stirred tank reactor Turbulent






Flow regime Figure 1. As shown (left to right), the progressive downsizing of reactor devices brings with it corresponding changes in the dominant flow regime

pharmaceutical chemical manufacturers to move all the way from stirred-tank reactors (STRs), with volumes on the order of hundreds or thousands of liters, down to microdevices, whose channels have dimensions on the order of hundreds of micrometers, in order to realize improvements in heat and mass transfer? Or might there be some useful intermediate size of equipment that would enable continuous production and provide the desired performance advantages? This article presents the case for that middle ground, discussing reactors whose critical dimension are of the order of millimeters (so-called milliscale or millichannel reactors) and explores relevant information and approaches for using such milliscale reactors to carry out small-scale, continuous reactions. Relevant questions that users should answer when considering what equipment to utilize are also addressed.

Scales of reactor

In any reactor, continuous or batch, the main performance characteristics are how well mixing, mass transfer and heat transfer can be carried out. One of the main purposes for using continuous-flow reactors is to gain increased control and improve the homogeneity of the reaction mass. This is based on the expectation that continuous operation yields more-consistent and predictable mixing and heat transfer capacity, and allows for the precise setting of operating parameters, all of which lead to improved product quality. The microdevices used in the laboratory today are, because of their dimensions, good tools for demonstrating “fast chemistry” — that is, rapid reactions that are normally finished within a few seconds. The question we are

Table 1. AverAge properties relevAnt to temperAture control for the devices shown in figure 1 reactor device

stirred-tank reactor

pipe (static mixer in shell-and-tube configuration)

millichannel reactor

microchannel reactor

(plate reactor)

(glass “chip”)

Device dimension


12.5 mm

2 mm

100 micrometers

Surface area, m2/m3





Overall heat transfer coefficient (HTC), Uav (W/m2K)





Volumetric heat transfer coefficient,* MW/m3K





Note: Volumetric heat transfer coefficient = HTC x surface area per unit volume. The volumetric heat transfer coefficient can be combined with a low estimate for the temperature difference between the utility and process temperatures (1 to 10 K) and used to screen which reactors would be capable of controlling the heat output from a particular exothermic reaction.

0.80 0.70

Inlet probe Outlet probe

Probe voltage (V)

0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0.10 0.00





20 25 30 Time (s)





FIGURe 2. Shown here is a residence-time distribution from a milliscale device corresponding to a Bodenstein number of roughly 150. Key features to note are the fact that the shape of the peak changes little on passage through the device, and there is no long “tail” on the outlet peak, which would indicate retention of material in the device

considering here is: Can milliscale devices give sufficient performance benefits, in terms of mixing and heat transfer, while giving producers an option for robust production in an industrial environment? As shown in Figure 1, as the characteristic dimensions of competing devices get smaller, there are competing changes from a reaction engineering viewpoint (for instance, the movement in and of the liquid decreases as the flow becomes laminar, so there is less help from the fluid in generating mixing and heat transfer; thus the dominant mixing mechanism becomes diffusion). During progressive downsizing, the surface-area-per-unit-volume increases, thereby aiding thermal control. Another way of thinking about the fluid dynamics is that in large vessels we must consider, macro-, meso- and microscale mixing phenonenon, in the middle domain meso and macro scale mixing takes place, while in microdevices, only micromixing takes place. Mixing in the milliscale device will generally be much more uniform than in a stirred tank of similar capacity, thereby providing a less-varied processing history for all molecules and yielding a more uniform product.

The actual geometry of the flow path in a milliscale pipe or channel can also be designed (although with potential tradeoffs in terms of pressure drop) to increase the mixing and heat-transfer performance of the device, bringing it closer to what might be achieved using microchannel devices. Inserts in a pipe (called static mixers) or channels with varying diameters or added twists and turns along their length are additional options to increase the fluid dynamics inside the reactor. Such structures help to break up larger fluid structures and reduce transport distances. Several milliscale devices bring greatly improved mixing, retention time and plug-flow characteristics to low Reynolds number (laminar) flows through enhanced flow in their radial direction caused by Dean vortices. When investigating inter-phase mass transfer using such milliscale devices (for instance, for immiscible liquidliquid systems), the speed at which individual molecules cross the phase boundary cannot be greatly affected. But the rate of generation of surface area and the total amount of surface area available for mass transfer can both be increased, thereby increasing the overall mass-transfer rate. In addition, more-advantageous modes or flow regimes, such as plug flow or engulfment flow, can be established in continuous devices with smaller channels. In addition to the performance characteristics mentioned above, the degree of plug flow also needs to be considered when evaluating continuous reactor options. In general, the degree of plug flow is determined from the residence-time distribution of the reactor, and indicates the uniformity of processing history that each molecule or fluid element experiences. A typical target requirement for plug flow in a reactor is a Bodenstein number of 100 or greater. This cannot be achieved in a straight milliscale pipe (Figure 2). The process requirements and capabilities of any continuous reactor must also be matched to the practical capabilities of the feed pumps that are coupled to them. “Perfect” plug flow calls for “perfect” pumps — if the required feed ratios are not achieved at all times in a perfect plug-flow reactor then there will be unreacted material remaining at the outlet. Thankfully for pump manufacturers and process developers, all reactors do have some extent of axial dispersion that can act to “correct” initial stoichiometry deviations created by fluctuation in the flows from real pumps. ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Engineering Practice Table 1 shows some of the average properties that are relevant to temperature control for the devices shown in Figure 1. To illustrate the suitability of the different scales of flow devices shown in Table 1 for removing the heat generated in a reaction, we consider a simple neutralization reaction where all of both reactants are added together very quickly. This would be considered a very fast process and therefore difficult to control in the case of a batch reactor. (The solution in a batch reactor would be to slowly add parts of one reagent to all of the second reactant.) Neutralization of 1 m3 of a one molar acid solution in a reactor (independent of type), with a residence time of 60 seconds, would release 60,000 kJ of energy in 60 s, creating heat output of 1 MW. This heat will be removed by the milliscale and microscale reactors discussed above, and it might be made to fit in the larger shell- FIGURE 3. In this small-scale, continuous reactor installation, the utility and-tube reactor by spreading out the process and reactant supply are shown on the left and the reactor is on the right. The reaction channel dimensions are 2 mm. Although the reactor footprint is along the reactor length by using multiple reac- very small, this apparatus could perform many campaigns in a year, making tant feed points. tens of kilograms of pharmaceutical candidates. Or, if fitted into an existing, However the calculation does not account for multipurpose batch plant (using existing reactors as feed and collection variations in the reaction rate as it proceeds. vessels), such a setup could produce 10 m.t./yr of a single product More realistically for a second-order kinetic process, 75% of this heat might be released in the first 10 s of the time that the molecules are exposed to higher temperareaction, giving an initial heat-release rate of 4.5 MW that tures — that influence the degradation of product quality. would need to be accommodated by the reactor. This fur- To combat this phenomenon, continuous reactor devices ther reduces the options to milliscale and microscale chan- with higher heat-transfer rates are necessary and the type nels. It does not, of course, mean the reactor will provide of reactor must be determined by the amount of energy reisothermal operation along its entire length, but the extent leased, the heat transfer timescale, and the kinetics of the and timescale of the temperature rise does limit the occur- degradation processes. Because many of the smaller-scale reactor technologies are relatively new, it is important to rence of side or degradation reactions. discuss requirements with the reactor supplier. The high thermal capacities of milliscale and miConverting batch to continuous Typically for an exothermic reaction, either the feedrate croscale devices (Table 1) can help to limit and control the to a batch reactor will be designed or controlled such that temperature rise — to a much greater extent than with a the temperature in the vessel does not rise significantly stirred-tank reactor — that accompanies so many organic (isothermal operation), or the operating temperature will chemical reactions. So the question for the process devel(also) be decreased to reduce reaction and heat release oper becomes: Can I withstand a small, non-isothermal rates (although this is a more costly option). These modi- temperature profile along the reactor? In other words, will fications to a true batch operation are important not only a temporary excursion — even one that lasts just a few from a safety perspective, but also from a product-quality seconds — cause significant product degradation? Even if significant deviation from isothermal operation is not perspective. For instance, with longer operating times (on the order an option, there is the added possibility of using multiple of hours) associated with many batch processes, it is impor- feed points along the reactor, in essence to help “spread tant to design a system that avoids or minimizes potential out” the exotherm, although this might complicate the enthermal degradation. Further complicating the issue, the gineering. temperature inside a tank reactor can vary significantly throughout the vessel, but point or averaging measure- Moving to industrial scale ments often do not record such variation. Continuous reactors for replacing current small-scale, When we consider a continuous reactor, the simplest op- batch-production equipment (for instance, for use by fine eration mode is to add all the reactants together at once. chemicals and pharmaceutical manufacturers) must be This approach leads to high initial reaction rates and capable of providing residence and reaction times rangtherefore high rates of heat evolution. In a reactor with ing from a few seconds to many minutes, and yet still be relatively large dimensions (that is, not on the milliscale or capable of throughput rates on the order of one or more microscale), this would cause the temperature of the reac- metric tons per year (m.t./yr). These simple criteria call for tion medium to rise. It is the magnitude of this rise — and a reactor volume on the order of 0.1–1 L. Such a unit has 46

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

Table 2. Comparison of Capabilities for Different reaCtor types reactor device

Device dimension


milliscale channel

microscale channel

(static mixer in shell-andtube configuration)

(plate reactor)

(Glass “chip”)

12.5 mm

2–8 mm

100 micrometers

Surface area (relative)




Mixing time (relative)




Solids handling









Limited work on chemistry

Limited work on chemistry

Numbering up represents a big engineering challenge

Production equipment

Industry standard

Industry standard

Limited due to potential safety issues

Cleaning options

CIP and manual

CIP and manual

CIP only

a relatively small footprint and could be accommodated in most standard fume hoods — thereby opening the way to industrial-scale production, for at least clinical phases, inside the laboratory setting (Figure 3). To reach even greater production levels — for instance, to produce a 1,000 m.t./yr or more — larger reactor volumes (to 20 L) are required. This scaleup of production capacity also means the reactor would have to move out from the fume cabinet to a larger-scale production plant. When it comes to scaling up promising lab-based reactions, the following options should be considered: Traditional scaleup — move from a smaller-diameter flow path to a larger-diameter flow path. This approach can be applied to pipes and milliscale channels. An increase in channel diameter from 2 mm to 10 mm provides a 25-fold increase in area, and correspondingly, potential throughput rate. However, the user, or supplier, must be sure that the required performance is maintained, particularly for flows with low Reynolds number (laminar). For example, the plug flow characteristics of a simple pipe would degrade significantly. This degree of increase of the channel dimensions is significantly less than for stirred tanks, so using traditional chemical engineering principles can provide a faster and more robust procedure, thereby reducing development time. However, the main limitation of the traditional scaleup approach is the decrease in surface area per unit volume of reactor — which affects the heat removal. But this is significant only in the very fast reactions. Numbering up — use a greater number of the same reactor device that was used in the laboratory. This approach has been considered for many years as the route to achieve greater throughtput using microreactor devices, and as a concept, this approach is very attractive. The claim is that because the fluid dynamics and heat transfer will remain the same in each of the many repeating channels or devices, such a larger-scale setup will produce the same quality of product as that of the laboratory setup. However, the ability to achieve large-scale production may require hundreds or thousands of microchannel devices, which will engender considerable engineering re-

quirements for distribution, manifolding, measurement and control of divided flows. A combination of scaleup and numbering up can also be applied with milliscale reactors so that the number of actual units required can be reduced, while still achieving considerable scaleup. Recently DSM Pharma Chemicals reported a small-scale, continuous nitration process producing 25 m.t. of product over a four-week campaign. This process used several parallel lines of devices with individual channel cross-sections on the order of 1–2 mm2 and demonstrated that it is practical to combine limited numbering up with limited scaleup.

Important performance criteria

What is often overlooked is that in addition to mixing and cooling capabilities, competing reactor options for industrial-scale production should also be assessed for their performance capabilities in the following areas: • Solids. Resistance to blockage or availability of strategies to remove any buildup inside the reactor before fouling becomes an issue • Physical robustness. This refers to the ability of the reactor to remain unaffected by small changes in shape or finish • Cleanabilty and inspectability. This is especially important in fine chemical and pharmaceutical applications • Flexibility. Modern plants have to enable multipurpose operation • Mechanical design. The design must be considered with regard to its ability to meet industry and regulatory standards Solids handling. The specter of entrained solids hangs ominously over the application of any small-scale, continuous reactor device. Most chemical processes run the risk of involving solids, whether intended (reactants or products) or unintended (byproducts, fouling, debris or as a result of loss of process or equipment control). The risk of solidsrelated problems very often precludes consideration of microdevices for use in applications that require reliable and uninterrupted production runs. There are two primary options for addressing the problem ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Engineering Practice of solids-related damage: 1) Transform the process in some way to remove the solids involved (that is, by going back to the chemists); or 2) Select equipment whose dimensions are large enough to manage any potential entrained solids without detrimental effect (an engineering approach). Reactor devices with milliscale channels will handle some solids entrained in liquid flows, but currently there is very little information available to the end user, and the knowledge base is further restricted by a lack of extensive literature on scales less than one inch, and of systems for pumping slurries. Because particles with a diameter of 100 micrometers or less can often be assumed to remain suspended in flow, the ability to keep velocities as high as possible for particles larger than this is an important consideration during reactor selection. Physical robustness. The robustness of the process (that is, its ability to keep producing products that meet specifications) is a reflection of both the chemistryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to withstand small deviations in operating conditions and in the performance of the reactor itself. Hence, the resistance of the reactor to being changed by the process is important. The ultra-small structures of micro devices are susceptible to damage and erosion by particles over the operating lifetime. Similarly, any solids deposition could quickly affect the heat transfer and alter the flow patterns significantly.

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ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

FIGURE 4. Some milliscale reactors can be fully dismantled for cleaning and inspection. Up to 25 plates can be stacked in the unit shown, each with a potential throughput of several hundred liters per hour, and they can be connected either in series or in parallel

Cleanabilty and inspectability. The userâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to clean and inspect any reactor is of enormous importance, and unfortunately, this aspect of reactor selection often receives too little attention. Today a number of sealed reactor-plate units (made from glass, plastic or metal) are on the market. In a number of examples, such reactors have been shown in a laboratory setting to perform the target chemical reactions successfully (Figure 4). However, when scaling up the process to commercial

production, it is less clear if and how those responsible for quality in production and cleaning will adopt these sealed units. Will there be a demand to visually inspect a production reactor or will cleaning in place (CIP) be acceptable to regulators? From an efficiency standpoint, CIP is the fastest way, but the ability to open a unit and inspect it might still be necessary to validate the CIP method. Meanwhile, in reactor devices where plates, channels or pipes can be opened, other issues arise. For instance: â&#x20AC;˘ Microscale and other small channels are very difficult to inspect visually â&#x20AC;˘ If a numbering-up approach is used to increase throughput volume, then the number of channels or plates to be inspected may become large. If, as some claim, these ultra-small-scale reactors themselves become inexpensive enough to become disposable, there would still be a workload associated with acceptance, validation and commissioning steps that must be repeated with each new set of disposable reactors In general, more-uniform reaction mixtures and increased fluid motion might limit the deposition of solids. Modular continuous units, which can be disassembled and inspected in an hour or two, are available to ease inspection and cleaning. New strategies for continuous-flow reactors, such as the

use of short, periodic flushing cycles to reduce deposits midcampaign (steps that resemble CIP practices), may also be considered, since associated startup and shutdown times are short. However, what still needs to be developed are consistent, industry-wide operating and quality-assurance and quality-control (QA/QC) protocols to govern their use. Flexibility. Flexibility is the hallmark of the traditional STR, which can be utilized for heating, cooling, mixing, reaction and separation. However, the STR flexibility brings its own associated costs. For instance, lower performance leads to deoptimization of the process to reduce the duty, and greater safety concerns when operating with large volumes of hazardous processes or harmful reagents. Any continuous reactor technology must offer the user some flexibility to be able to perform all of these different process operations with different performance requirements, and unlike the STR, be able to have different throughputs (in terms of turn up and turndown, which requires spare capacity in the pumping and utility systems). When it comes to millichannel reactors, flexibility can be achieved by using reactor systems that offer modular construction, whereby channels or pipes of differing size can be configured in a common frame or shell. The alternative to this would be a multi-reactor plant where a number of different reactors are permanently installed in a way that


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Engineering Practice they can be plumbed together, as needed, to configure a composite reactor that meets the needs of the application. Mechanical design considerations. Chemical reactors that are operated as pressure vessels must comply with various local and international codes for pressure vessels, for instance, from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in the U.S., and from the European Pressure Vessel Directive (PED) in Europe. It is possible to gain the confidence and experience of operating a reaction continuously in a “homemade” equipment configuration (using, for instance, capillary tubing), and to gather proof-of-concept and reaction kinetics information for future scaleup in a milliscale reactor or staticmixer-based unit. Due to the general absence of production-scale reactors that are able to fulfill the mechanical requirements of plant production, many continuous-flow technology transfer investigations have stalled, resulting in missed opportunities to reduce production costs.

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Closing thoughts

Table 2 provides a comparison of the general characteristics and capabilities of the various types of reactors discussed here. In general, milliscale channel reactors have mixing and heat transfer advantages over STRs. It is questionable how often the additional heat transfer and mixing capabilities of a microscale reactor over a milliscale reactor is essential to performing a continuous reaction process successfully. Milliscale reactors also provide sufficient performance and offer a good compromise between performance and industrial robustness, which can help to meet the varied needs of the chemistry, the operator and the production plant. This should not be a surprising conclusion, after all, compact plate heat exchangers are becoming increasingly widespread in the process industries and they operate very robustly with channel dimensions that are on the order of just a few millimeters. Similarly, a number of the claimed microreactor successes have actually been performed in millimeter-scaled channels. ■ Edited by Suzanne Shelley

Authors Barry Johnson is product & process development manager for the Alfa Laval Reactor Technology division, at the company’s site in Tumba, Sweden (Phone: +44 7710 194365; Email: With the company since 2002, Johnson works with the commercial investigation and development of various technologies and products for process intensification. In his current role, he is engaged in the worldwide launch and early implementation phases of the company’s Plate Reactor technology. Prior to joining Alfa Laval, Johnson was with a chemical engineering consulting firm in the U.K., where, among other things, he managed mixing research consortia. Johnson holds a B.S. in chemistry, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Leeds (England). He has also completed post-doctorate studies in analytical science and chemical chaos. Martin Jönsson has been working as a chemical engineer for the last 12 years. He holds an M.S.Ch.E. from Lund University (Sweden), he started as a commissioning and design engineer (and eventually served as project manager) for formaldehyde and resins plants. He joined Alfa Laval in 2001 as an application engineer, with responsibilities for the design of heat exchangers for the fine and specialty chemical industries. He also worked as a market development manager for condensation and evaporation duties before taking the responsibility for the launch of Alfa Laval reactor products.

Emerson Process Management

Focus on

Level Measurement And Control Accurate level measurement in steam applications Dynamic Vapor Compensation (DVC) is a new option available for the Rosemount 5300 Series of High Performance Guided Wave Radar (GWR) level transmitters (photo). DVC eliminates accuracy errors associated with varying pressure and temperature that occur in vessels where steam vapor is present, such as in boilers, boiler feedwater heaters and steam drums. Unlike traditional technologies, such as displacer and mechanical gages, the DVC option, which comprises of a probe with built-in reflector and software, is corrosion-resistant, offers improved safety with a gastight dual seal, has no moving parts and is maintenance-free. Designed for challenging level and interface measurements on liquids, slurries and solids, the 5300 series GWR transmitters have minimal installation requirements. The DVC uses a reference reflector at a fixed distance on a rigid, single probe to measure the vapor dielectric. This measurement is then used to automatically compensate for vapor dielectric changes resulting in a final accuracy of within 2% (compared with up to 30% specific gravity error in density-based level measurements or up to 20% for GWR if no compensation is made). — Emerson Process Management, Austin, Tex. This pump protection switch can be used in a variety of situations The Gladiator pump protection switch (photo) can be used in applications where pipe or wall mounting with minimal protrusion is required. It can also be used to detect the presence of liquids to ensure the pump will never run dry. The switch has immunity to build-up and monitors materials with a wide range of dielectric constants. Designed to operate in tough industrial environments, the switch is simple to set up and calibrate, and is temperature stable. The Gladiator

communicates using Modbus, HART, or Profibus protocols. A remote amplifier can be positioned up to 500 m (1,640 ft) away from the unit. Applications include monitoring liquids in the petrochemical, food-and-beverage, water and wastewater industries, as well as monitoring levels of dry powdered material for industries including cement, glass, pharmaceutical, mining and minerals and fertilizers. — Hawk, Melbourne, Australia www.hawkmeasure. com



An easy way to measure level is introduced The Level Sensor (photo) for continuous level measurement uses the principal of buoyancy by weighing an inert plastic chain, secured below the fluid surface, determining the inverse of liquid level and converting it to an analog, digital or wireless electronic signal for indication, alarming or other applications. The products are easy to install, easy to use and easy to maintain. These level instruments install with screw or flange connections; may be repaired in place, by replacing modular components; interface with most common industrial signals or protocols; meet standards for explosion-proof or intrinsic safe applications; and use no moving parts to foul, drift or degrade. — Levelese, Inc., Denver, Colo. Measure levels in challenging environments The PT4500 and PT4510 submersible pressure transmitters (photo) have been optimized for detecting the level of water or other media with simi-

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lar density in challenging industrial environments. To deliver accurate level detection, a transmitter is placed at the bottom of the tank holding the liquid, and the transmitter then converts the pressure reading to an analog 4–20-mA-output signal. The electrical connection to the transmitter is routed through the top of the tank and contains power and signal wires. It also includes a breathing tube that is used as a reference port to determine the atmospheric pressure outside of the tank. These IP-68 rated, stainless-steel pressure transmitters may be used in industrial applications, as well as hazardous classified areas. — Turck, Plymouth, Minn. A radar level transmitter that is economical The Model R82 radar transmitter (photo) is based on pulse-burst-radar technology, and is an economical solution for simple applications. The 26-GHz, loop-powered, non-contact transmitter provides ease of configuration with either the menu-driven four-pushbutton, two-line by 16-char-

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Focus acter display, HART digital communication or PACTware. This allows complete configuration via the local user interface, or remotely with the added capability of capturing echo waveforms and viewing trend data, diagnostic conditions and all transmitter configuration parameters. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Magnetrol, Downers Grove, Ill. Measure submersed solids under water The SmartBob-SS sensor (photo) is designed for applications of submersed solids under water, such as measuring the level of settled salt. The SmartBob-SS sensor drops a weighted bob through the liquid; when the bob comes into contact with solid settled material at the bottom of the tank, it retracts and sends a measurement to a SmartBob control console or a PC loaded with eBob software. The SmartBob-SS sensor comes configured with a 3-in.

standpipe for ease of installation, a stainless-steel cable that stands up to corrosive materials, and a SureDrop cap that prevents the weight from being retracted into the pipe and protects the device from unwanted material entering through the standpipe. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; BinMaster, Lincoln, Nebr.

Tecmark BinMaster

A hand-held device to measure levels in non-metallic containers Designed for use in a wide variety of applications, the C-Level sensor (photo) is a quick, inexpensive way to detect the level of liquid or solids within non-metallic containers. The CLevel provides a quick assessment of partial containers and offers accurate level identification, accurate to within Âź in., without opening or weighing drums. The device is powered by a standard 9-V battery and includes a

power-saving automatic shut-off feature. Applications include inventory, plant operations, auditing, quality control and others. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Tecmark Corp., Mentor, Ohio Detect and control interfaces with this switch The FlexSwitch FLT93S flow/level/ temperature switch provides accurate interface detection and control in applications such as the operation of separation tanks and other ves-

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nodes. The DX80 wireless transmit- scientific and medical) band. The sigter and receiver communicate via a nal range is three miles, line of sight, frequency hopping spread spectrum and especially suited for tank farms; (FHSS) radio system that ensures the plastic pellet, cement, and aggremessage is delivered and is secure. gated storage silos; and hydrocarbon The DX80 is available in two different storage tanks. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; K-TEK Corp., Praimodels: the 900 MHz frequency (U.S., rieville, La. â&#x2013; Canada and Australia) or the 2.4 GHz #HEM%NGGHALF OLPDF!Dorothy Lozowski (rest of world) ISM (instrumentation,


sels with mixed density media. The FLT93S Switch monitors, controls and alarms flowrates or levels of critical fluids, such as foams, emulsion layers, liquids and slurries. Its rugged industrial design and housing provide reliability and long service life under harsh plant environments. The FLT93S Switch is a dual-function, insertion-style instrument that offers either flow/temperature sensing or level/ temperature sensing in a single device. Unlike density displacers, which are often used for level and interface control, the FLT93S Switch relies on the specific heat-transfer properties of the media to identify the interface of different products. With its thermal dispersion sensing capability, the FLT93S monitors the interface of products with similar densities and can identify the interface between various types of media including foam, emulsion layers, liquids and slurries. The FLT93S Switchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dual-switch-point option allows one instrument to control two different product interfaces. Two or more switches are used to control product discharge and intake at specified points. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Fluid Components International, San Marcos, Calif. #








Transmit level data with this wireless system The DX80 (photo) provides a low-cost method for transmitting data between process sensors and higher level systems, such as DCS or SCADA systems. The DX80 includes two devices, a node (wireless transmitter) that resides in the field and interfaces to measurement devices, and a gateway (wireless receiver) that resides in the main control panel and interfaces to a PC or PLC. Each node accepts up to two analog and two discrete-switch inputs. Each gateway accepts up to 55

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The UltraScan VIS spectrophotometer objectively quantifies slight lot differences in yellowness and color for clear and chromatic chemicals. It measures both reflected and transmitted color, and meets CIE and ASTM guidelines. As recommended by the CIE, spectral data is measured, and tristimulus color calculated, from 360 to 780nm. Its light source is controlled in the ultraviolet region for the accurate measurement of whitening agents. APHA, Saybolt, Gardner, ASTM D 1500, Yellowness, Whiteness and Haze can be measured. The sphere minimizes effects introduced by sample haze. 703-471-6870 Circle 297 on p. 62 or go to

Circle 296 on p. 62 or go to

Cleveland Wire C loth

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Wire Cloth

Specializes in high temperature, corrosion resistant, and specialty metals and alloys for process functions, as well as OEM components. Wire cloth is woven to precise, customer requirements. Catalog includes application data, design guidelines, technical specifications, ordering information, and a new, interactive CD with a wire cloth specifications calculator. Tel: 800-321-3234 (U.S. & Canada) or 216-341-1832; Fax: 216-341-1876;;

Place Your Ad H ere! Advertise in Chemical Engineering Literature Review, a special bound-in-the-magazine supplement that can showcase your latest catalogs, brochures, and spec sheets. Reach over 266,700 engineering professionals who turn to Chemical Engineering every month for just this kind of production information. Contact: Helene Hicks Inside Sales Manager Phone: 212 621-4958 Fax: 212 621-4976

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Literature Review 2009


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r 1SPWJEFTUIFNPTUVTFGVMIPXUo engineering information r 0GGFSTUIFNPTUJOEFQUIHMPCBl coverage of the chemical Qrocess JOEVTUSJFT r #FTUEFMJWFSTUFDIOJDBMOFXs that JTIFMQGVMJOZPVSKPC r 0/&QVCMJDBUJPO*XPVMEDIPPTe if *DPVMESFDFJWFPOMZ0/& The Wayman Group, 2007 CHEMshow survey (Coming Soon 2009 CHEMshow Survey)

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Fluorinated Lubricants Protect pressure or vacuum instruments from clogging, corrosion and damage. Compact and Economical, Plast-O-Matic Gauge Guards prevent dangerous leaks and allow dependable instrument readings from full vacuum to 250 psi. CHE

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SuperPro Designer is a comprehensive process simulator that facilitates modeling, cost analysis, debottlenecking, cycle time reduction, and environmental impact assessment of biochemical, specialty chemical, pharmaceutical (bulk & fine), food, consumer product, mineral processing, water purification, wastewater treatment, and related processes. Its development was initiated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SuperPro is already in use at more than 400 companies and 500 universities around the world (including 18 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies and 9 of the top 10 biopharmaceutical companies). SchedulePro is a versatile finite capacity scheduling tool that generates feasible production schedules for multi-product facilities that do not violate constraints related to the limited availability of facilities, equipment, resources and work areas. It can be used in conjunction with SuperPro (by importing its recipes) or independently (by creating recipes directly in SchedulePro). Any industry that manufactures multiple products by sharing production lines and resources can benefit from the use of SchedulePro. Engineering companies use it as a modeling tool to size utilities for batch plants, identify equipment requirements, reduce cycle times, and debottleneck facilities. Circle 240 on p. 62 or go to

Visit our website to download detailed product literature and functional evaluation versions of our tools INTELLIGEN, INC. • 2326 Morse Avenue • Scotch Plains, NJ 07076 • USA Tel: (908) 654-0088 • Fax: (908) 654-3866 Email: • Website: Intelligen also has offices in Europe and representatives in countries around the world

HSC Chemistry® 7 Outotec's new innovative process calculation software contains an updated flowsheet simulation module and a thermochemical database expanded to over 25,000 species. With 22 calculation modules and 12 databases at your fingertips, HSC 7 is an invaluable tool for any process engineer or scientist because one laboratory experiment may cost much more than a single HSC license. Once the compass gave us a competitive edge when navigating in foggy waters. Today modeling and simulation give us a similar advantage when we navigate oceans of data with hundreds of variables. This is the only way to utilize the current massive information overload. The new HSC 7 provides us with an easy simulation tool to steer process development and research. Ask for the 32 page “What’s new in HSC 7” paper from: Outotec Research Oy Email:, Tel: +358-20-529 211 Circle 241 on p. 62 or go to

Software CA Co PE-O mp PE lian N t! HTRI Xchanger Suite® – an integrated, easy-to-use suite of tools that delivers accurate design calculations for • shell-and-tube heat exchangers • jacketed-pipe heat exchangers • hairpin heat exchangers • plate-and-frame heat exchangers • spiral plate heat exchangers

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New & Used eqUipmeNt KILO LAB CENTRIFUGE • For R & D, and Small Scale Processing • Multiple capacities available • Basket filtration or solid / liquid sedimentation capability • Hard- and Soft-sided Containment for Potent Materials • Rental Equipment Available • Variable Speed up to 3000 RPM • Ideal for Installation in a Fume Hood • Explosion-Proof • Cart-Mounted Installation for Easy Portability • Available in 316L Stainless, 904L Stainless, and Hastelloy


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* A Box 4 U THIRD COVER 877-522-6948

Flexicon Corp 1 1-610-814-2400

Hytorc Inc 28D-5 201-512-9500

Solutia Therminol 2 1-800-246-2463

• ABB Automation Technology Products AB 28I-7

Franken Filtertenchnik KG 28 49 (0) 2233 974 40-0

Load Controls Inc 28D-8 1-888-600-3247

SRI Consulting 22

Alstom Power Inc 30 • GEA Niro A/S 28I-5 1-877-661-5509 45 39 54 54 54 ARC Advisory Group 53 781-471-1175

Gorman Rupp Co 43 419-755-1011

Auma Riester GmbH & Co KG 27

Heinkel USA 28D-4 856-467-3399

Bryan Research & Engineering 19 1-800-776-5220

Honeywell Process Solutions 13 1-877-466-3993

Check-All Valve Mfg Co 8 515-224-2301 Chemstations Inc 9 1-800-243-6223 Dechema EV 50 * Dipesh Engineering Works 26 91-22-2674-3719 Dow H igh Temp SECOND 1-800-447-4369 COVER Dow Water & Process Solutions 28D-3 Endress + Hauser FOURTH 1-888-ENDRESS COVER Fauske & Assoc 30 1-877-FAUSKE1 FCI 39 1-800-854-1993 • International Section * Additional information in 2010 Buyers’ Guide

Microsoft Dynamics 12

Sulzer Chemtech AG 28D-6 1-918-446-6672

Petro-Canada Lubricants 7

Swagelok Co 4

• Vega Grieshaber Rembe GmbH Beteiligungs GmbH 28I-3 Safety + Control 48 49 29 61 7405 0 Veolia Environment 31 Rotex Inc 49 1-800-453-2321 * Western States Machine Co 28D-6 Samson AG 6 513-863-4758

See bottom of next page for advertising sales representatives' contact information Classified Index - December 2009 (212) 621-4958 Fax: (212) 621-4976 Send Advertisements and Box replies to: Helene Hicks, Chemical Engineering, 110 William St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10038

Advertisers’ Product Showcase . . 56

Page number Reader Service #

Advertiser Page number Phone number Reader Service #

Equipnet 59 781-821-3482

NATUREX 60 201-440-5000

e-simulators 59 480-380-4738

Outotec 58 358-20-529-211 adlinks,

Heat Transfer Reasearch, Inc. 59 979-690-5050

Plast-O-Matic Valves, Inc. 56 973-256-3000

HFP Acoustical Consultants 60 713-789-9400

Process Machinery 59 770-271-9932

Advertiser Phone number

Computer Software . . . . . . . . 57–58 Consulting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59 Equipment, Used or Surplus New for Sale . . . . . . 58–60 Toll Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Advertiser Phone number

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Alloy Screen Works 59 800-577-5068 Amistco 60 1-800-839-6374 Avery Filter Company 59 201-666-9664 Charles Ross & Son Company 60 866-797-2660 CU Services 56 847-439-2303

Indeck 60 847-541-8300

Robatel 60 413-499-4818

Intelligen 57 908-654-0088

Wabash Power Equipment Company 59 800-704-2002

Miller-Stevenson 56 203-743-4447

Xchanger Inc. 59 952-933-2559

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Pollution Control equipment & Systems Pumps Safety equipment & Services Size reduction & agglomeration equipment Solids handling equipment Tanks, Vessels, reactors Valves engineering Computers/Software/Peripherals water Treatment Chemicals & equipment hazardous waste management Systems Chemicals & raw materials materials of Construction Compressors

226 241 256 271 286 301 316 331 346 361 376 391 406 421 436 451 466 481 496 511








106 121 136 151 166 181 196 211








107 122 137 152 167 182 197 212 227 242 257 272 287 302 317 332 347 362 377 392 407 422 437 452 467 482 497 512 527 542 557 572 587








108 123 138 153 168 183 198 213 228 243 258 273 288 303 318 333 348 363 378 393 408 423 438 453 468 483 498 513 528 543 558 573 588








109 124 139 154 169 184 199 214 229 244 259 274









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128 143 158 173 188 203 218 233 248 263 278 293 308 323 338 353 368 383 398 413 428 443 458 473 488 503 518 533 548 563 578 593









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133 148 163 178 193 208 223 238 253 268 283 298 313 328 343 358 373 388 403 418 433 448 463 478 493 508 523 538 553 568 583 598







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105 120 135 150 165 180 195 210 225 240 255 270 285 300 315 330 345 360 375 390 405 420 435 450 465 480 495 510 525 540 555 570 585 600


526 541 556 571 586

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426 441 456 471 486 501 516 531 546 561 576 591

189 204 219 234 249 264 279 294 309 324 339 354 369 384 399 414 429 444 459 474

489 504 519 534 549 564 579 594

130 145 160 175 190 205 220 235 250 265 280 295 310 325 340 355 370 385 400 415 430 445 460 475 490 505 520 535 550 565 580 595 131 146 161 176

191 206 221 236 251 266 281 296 311

326 341 356 371 386 401 416 431 446 461 476 491 506 521 536 551 566 581 596

389 404 419 434 449 464 479 494 509 524 539 554 569 584 599

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Economic Indicators

Business neWs Plant Watch Siemens gasification technology selected for Taylorville Energy Center November 10, 2009 — Siemens Energy, Inc. (Orlando, Fla.; has been chosen to provide the coal gasification technology for the Taylorville Energy Center (TEC), the 730-MW (gross) advanced clean-coal generating plant being developed near Taylorville, Ill.TEC will be one of the nation’s first commercial-scale, coal gasification plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) capability.TEC’s integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) technology will capture and provide storage for at least 50% of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise enter the atmosphere.TEC is projected to be operational in 2014. Envergent biomass pyrolysis process will power new facility in Europe November 4, 2009 — A new biomass-to-oil power plant in Europe will use a process developed by Envergent Technologies (Des Plaines, Ill.;, a Honeywell (Morris Township, N.J.; www. company. Plans for the facility, which is projected to begin operation in 2012, followed an agreement between Envergent and Industria e Innovazione, an Italian power generation company.The new European facility will be designed to process about 150 metric tons (dry) per day of a mixture of pine forest residues and clean demolition wood, and convert the biomass mix into pyrolysis oil. Envergent is a joint venture between UOP (Des Plaines, Ill.; www.uop. com) and Ensyn Corp. (Wilmington, Del.; Another Unipol polyethylene plant slated for China November 4, 2009 — Univation Technologies LLC (Houston; has announced that Yulin Energy and Chemical Ltd. of Yanchang Petroleum Group Co. (Yulin) has selected Univation’s Unipol PE Process for a 300,000 metric ton per year (m.t./yr) polyethylene (PE) plant.The facility will be located in Shaanxi Province, People’s Republic of China.The Unipol PE Process facility will be fed by a unique combination of conventional feedstock and coal-to-olefins feedstock. Planned startup of the facility is 2013. Aquatech to work on water treatment and reuse projects in Egypt October 30, 2009— Aquatech Corp. (Can-

onsburg, Pa.; has been awarded a contract to supply a multiple-effect-distillation (MED) seawaterdesalination system for the Abu Qir Thermal Power Plant in Egypt.The facility will supply 10,000 m3/d of fresh water to the power station’s boilers and other users. Earlier this year Aquatech was also awarded a wastewater reuse project for a chemical facility by TCI Sanmar Chemicals LLC, located at Port Said, Egypt.The reuse system will have a capacity of 8,500 m3/d to recover over 90% of the water suitable for use within the complex. Linde to invest in largest airseparation unit in India October 27, 2009 — The Linde Group (Munich, Germany; has announced that it will build and commission a state-of-the-art, 2,550 m.t./d air separation unit (ASU) at Tata Steel Ltd’s plant in Jamshedpur, India. Once commissioned in early 2012, this will be the largest air separation plant in India and one of Linde’s largest in Asia.The investment for the new ASU amounts to nearly €85 million, bringing Linde’s total investment in India over the last three years to approximately €285 million. Celanese to expand emulsions manufacturing in China October 26, 2009 — Celanese Corp. (Dallas, Tex.; has announced it is expanding its vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) manufacturing facility at its Nanjing, China, integrated chemical complex.The investment will support continued growth plans for the Celanese Emulsion Polymers business throughout Asia, including China, India and Southeast Asia and Australia.The expanded facility will double the company’s VAE capacity in the region and is expected to be operational the first half of 2011.

mergers and acquisitions Dow Corning acquires U.S. and Brazilian silicon-metal-manufacturing assets November 6, 2009 — Dow Corning Corp. (Midland, Mich.; has acquired two chemical-grade-silicon manufacturing assets from Globe Specialty Metals, in an acquisition valued at approximately $175 million. Dow Corning purchased 100% of Globe Metais Indústria e Comércio S.A., a silicon metal manufacturer in Pará, Brazil, which will immediately begin operating as Dow Corning Metais do Pará Ltda. Dow Corning has also acquired a 49%

interest in Globe Metallurgical Inc.’s silicon manufacturing operation in Alloy, West Virginia.The operation will continue to operate as WVA Manufacturing LLC. Arkema proposes to close a PVC production unit November 6, 2009 — Arkema (Colombes, France; has proposed a plan to shut down a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production unit in Balan, France.The Balan facility currently has three PVC units with a 325,000-ton overall capacity.The smallest of these three units, with a 30,000 ton/yr capacity, will be closed, while the two remaining plants will be modernized. This plan is expected to be implemented 2nd Q 2010. BASF to realign its fuel cell business November 5, 2009 — BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; is realigning its business for the fuel cell market. In the future, competencies for the production of hightemperature, membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs) will be concentrated in Somerset, N.J. Operational activities at the BASF Fuel Cell GmbH site in Frankfurt, Germany, will be discontinued effective December 31, 2009. BASF plans to close the Frankfurt site in the course of 2010. Alstom establishes carbon capture unit with Lummus acquisition October 30, 2009 — Alstom (Levallois-Perret, France; has established a new unit, Alstom Carbon Capture GmbH, with the acquisition of the former Lummus Global.The new unit has the capabilities required for the design and turnkey delivery of CO2-capture plants and will be integrated into Alstom’s existing carbon-capture-systems activities. Alstom is currently involved at various stages in ten demonstration projects of CO2 capture systems. Milliken expands colorants portfolio for global thermoset plastics industry October 14, 2009 — Milliken & Co. (Spartanburg, S.C.;, through a subsidiary, has acquired the assets of Rebus, Inc., a North American provider of pigment and additive dispersions for the thermoset-plastics industrialcoatings markets. Milliken will continue to operate Rebus’s existing manufacturing facility in Aston, Pa. ■ Dorothy Lozowski

For additional news as it develops, please visit December 2009; VOL. 116; NO. 13 Chemical Engineering copyright @ 2009 (ISSN 0009-2460) is published monthly, with an additional issue in October, by Access Intelligence, LLC, 4 Choke Cherry Road, 2nd Floor, Rockville, MD, 20850. Chemical Engineering Executive, Editorial, Advertising and Publication Offices: 110 William Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10038; Phone: 212-621-4674, Fax: 212-621-4694. Subscription rates: $59.00 U.S. and U.S. possessions, Canada, Mexico; $179 International. $20.00 Back issue & Single copy sales. Periodicals postage paid at Rockville, MD and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Chemical Engineering, Fulfillment Manager, P.O. Box 3588, Northbrook, IL 60065-3588. Phone: 847-564-9290, Fax: 847-564-9453, email: Change of address, two to eight week notice requested. For information regarding article reprints, please contact Angie Van Gorder at Contents may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. PM40063731. Return undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: P.O. Box 1632, Windsor, ON N9A7C9. FOR MORE ECONOMIC INDICATORS, SEE NExT PAGE

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009


Economic Indicators




Sep. '09 Prelim. 525.6 621.5 563.3 604.0 768.3 409.6 895.9 464.7 632.5 327.1 493.0 345.4

CE Index

Equipment Heat exchangers & tanks Process machinery Pipe, valves & fittings Process instruments Pumps & compressors Electrical equipment Structural supports & misc Construction labor Buildings Engineering & supervision

Aug. '09 Final 521.9 615.8 560.9 599.1 752.0 400.7 895.9 462.1 630.8 327.5 491.1 346.0

Sep. '08 Final 608.9 744.4 758.4 674.3 865.6 446.8 886.3 468.5 817.8 328.2 529.9 351.7


Annual Index: 2001 = 394.3


2002 = 395.6 2003 = 402.0


2004 = 444.2 2005 = 468.2


2006 = 499.6 2007 = 525.4


2008 = 575.4 400

Starting with the April 2007 Final numbers, several of the data series for labor and compressors have been converted to accommodate series IDs that were discontinued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics









CPI output index (2000 = 100)

Oct. '09



Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Oct. '08



CPI value of output, $ billions

Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Jul. '09



Sep. '08



CPI operating rate, %

Oct. '09



Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Oct. '08



Producer prices, industrial chemicals (1982 = 100)

Oct. '09



Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Oct. '08



Industrial Production in Manufacturing (2002=100)*

Oct. '09



Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Oct. '08



Hourly earnings index, chemical & allied products (1992 = 100)

Oct. '09



Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Oct. '08



Productivity index, chemicals & allied products (1992 = 100)

Oct. '09



Sep. '09



Aug. '09



Oct. '08



CPI OUTPUT INDEX (2000 = 100)



























*Due to discontinuance, the Index of Industrial Activity has been replaced by the Industrial Production in Manufacturing index from the U.S. Federal Reserve Board. Current business indicators provided by Global insight, Inc., Lexington, Mass.


M & S IndEx

Process industries, average Cement Chemicals Clay products Glass Paint Paper Petroleum products Rubber Related industries Electrical power Mining, milling Refrigeration Steam power



3rd Q 2009 1,446.4

2nd Q 2009 1,462.9

1st Q 2009 1,477.7

4th Q 2008 1,487.2

3rd Q 2008 1,469.5

1,515.1 1,509.7 1,485.8 1,495.8 1,400.4 1,515.1 1,416.3 1,625.2 1,560.7

1,534.2 1,532.5 1,504.8 1,512.9 1,420.1 1,535.9 1,435.6 1,643.5 1,581.1

1,553.2 1,551.1 1,523.8 1,526.4 1,439.8 1,554.1 1,453.3 1,663.6 1,600.3

1,561.2 1,553.4 1,533.7 1,524.4 1,448.1 1,564.2 1,462.9 1,668.9 1,604.6

1,538.2 1,522.2 1,511.5 1,495.6 1,432.4 1,543.9 1,443.1 1,644.4 1,575.6

1,370.8 1,547.6 1,767.3 1,471.4

1,394.7 1,562.9 1,789.0 1,490.8

1,425.0 1,573.0 1,807.3 1,509.3

1,454.2 1,567.5 1,818.1 1,521.9

1,454.4 1,546.2 1,793.1 1,499.3


1485 1470 1455 1440 1425 1410 1395 1380 1365 1350 1335

2001 = 1,093.9 2002 = 1,104.2


Annual Index: 2003 = 1,123.6 2005 = 1,244.5 2004 = 1,178.5 2006 = 1,302.3

2007 = 1,373.3 2008 = 1,449.3

ChemiCal engineering www.Che.Com DeCember 2009

1320 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Quarter

eptember capital equipment pries (as reflected in the Chemical Engineering Plant Cost Index) increased by 0.7% over the previous month — less than half the increase from July to August, which amounted to the largest jump since equipment prices bottomed out in May. Meanwhile, the CPI output index and operating rate continue to climb, but each is still below its level of the same period one year ago. Visit for more on capital cost trends and methodology. ■

Circle 02 on p. 62 or go to

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Chemical Engineering [December 2009]


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