Block Course “Chemical Process Development” was a success :-)

From Feb. 16 – 20 and March 2 – 20 I taught a full day course on “Chemical Process Development” to 26 very motivated and hard working students.

The course included:

  1. Introduction, Overview
  2. Aspen Plus Intro Course
  3. Dortmund Data Bank (DDB) and DDB Software Package
  4. Chemical Thermodynamics for Process Simulation (Mostly in GVT-Course)
  5. Separation Process Synthesis (Mostly in GVT-Course)
  6. Introduction to Scientific Programming
  7. Numerical Mathematics Crashcourse
  8. Experimental Determination of Pure Component and Mixture Data (Dr. Christian Ihmels, LTP GmbH)
  9. Design Projects (2-3 Participants per Group)
  10. Presentation Training

The students have finished the first week of their design projects with really good results. They all learned a lot. The current plan is to send two sudents to Korat and two to Durban later this year.

There are 12 design topics:

2014-15 01 – Modelling and Optimization of an Extractive Dividing Wall Column

Extractive distillation is a very common separation method for close boiling or azeotropic mixtures. The process typically employs an extraction column plus a solvent regeneration. Integrating both into one unit with a dividing wall in the lower section can potentially reduce investment and operating costs. The task is to set up a simulation of a cyclohexane-benzene separation with NFM as extractive solvent in such a column. Compared to an ordinary distillation, the setup has a much larger number of degrees of freedom. The task is to optimize the process by controlling the simulation from Excel. As optimization method, the evolutionary algorithm by Frontline Systems as available in the Excel solver should be used. For further details see for example here and here.

2014-15 02 – Modelling and Evaluation of an Vacuum Extractive Ethanol-Fermentation

Besides for the production of alcoholic beverages, ethanolic fermentation is broadly applied to the production of ethanol as a regenerative fuel. Typical processes employ either batch or fed-batch operation but different techniques are under development to remove the product continuously from the fermentation broth. An especially promising technique (vacuum extractive fermentation) has been further developed by Prof. Apichat Boontawan (SUT, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), Thailand) and yields a 90% ethanol-water mixture directly from the fermenter. Different aspects of the process have already been analysed in previous design projects. Within a German-Thai scientific exchange project (BMBF) a PhD-student of Prof. Apichat will take part in the MSc. block. After the design project, the German student of the design group has the chance to visit Korat for an up to 3 months stay (internship in a biotechnology department) to continue the work and improve the simulation and further optimize the process using experimental data of the laboratory scale equipment. SUT and CvO University of Oldenburg (Industrial Chemistry) have exchanged researchers for several years already and I will be available in Korat to co-supervise part of the internship. A more detailed description of the project can be found here.

2014-15 03 – Product Recovery from a Reaction Mixture via Crystallization (Solvent, Antisolvent, Cooling, Evaporation)

Recovery of the reaction product via crystallization is a common task e.g. in the production of pharmaceuticals. Typical procedures include solvent extraction, cooling and evaporation as well as antisolvent (drowning-out) crystallization. The task is to develope a specific procedure for two products and optimize the process parameters via process simulation.

2014-15 04 – Dynamic Simulation and Optimization of an Extractive Batch Distillation

Extractive distillation can be used for continuous and discontinuous processes. The task is to design and optimize an extractive batch distillation for the separation of the azeotropic mixture methanol-acetone with water as an entrainer.

2014-15 05 – Monoethanolamine Production

Ethanolamines are usually produced by reaction of ethylene oxide with excess ammonia, this excess ammonia being considerable in some cases. In all conventional processes, reaction takes place in liquid phase, and the reaction pressure must be sufficiently large to prevent the vaporization of ammonia at the reaction temperature. In the current procedure ammonia concentration in water between 50 and 100 %, pressure of 160 atmosphere and a reaction temperature of up to 150°C is used. The plant is to be designed to produce 150-tons/day of monoethanolamine.

2014-15 06 – Acrylic Acid Production

Acrylic acid is an important intermediate. The objective of this project is to design an acrylic acid plant to produce 200 TPD of 99.0% acrylic acid utilizing 8000 hours a year. Because the by-product acetic acid is also a marketable commodity, purification of acetic acid to 95% purity is also desirable. Acrylic acid is produced via the catalytic partial oxidation of propylene. The desired products must be separated from the rest of the reactor product stream.

2014-15 07 – Design and Optimization of a Kalina Cycle, Alternative Working Mixtures

The Kalina cycle represents an especially effective power cycle. In contrast to the well known Rankine cycle, it employs a mixture of varying composition as working fluid (typically ammonia water). For more information, watch this video. Special Turbine Selection see here.

2014-15 09 – Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester Production with Continuous Glycerol Removal

Fatty acid esters (biodiesel) provide a partly renewable source of transportation fuel.  In case of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), both the alcohol and the acid can be generated from agricultural sources. The task is to design and optimize a production process, in which the co-product glycerol is continuously removed from the reactor.

2014-15 10 – Magnesium Production from Sea Water

In the United States, magnesium is obtained principally with the Dow process, by electrolysis of fused magnesium chloride from concentrated salt water. In Israel, the production uses high salt concentration Dead Sea water. Simulate and optimize the magnesium production from sea water and evaluate the economy of the process.

2014-15 11 – Design and Economic Evaluation of a Solvent Extraction Desalination of Water

The task is to design and optimize a solvent extraction desalination of sea water.  Based on the DDB, which solvents and solvent classes can be used? Can the technology be applied to further separation problems?

2014-15 12 – Design and Optimization of an Open and Closed Loop VOC Removal

VOC (volatile organic compound) removal from exhaust streams is an important part of many industrial processes. As solvents, tenside solutions in water provide a low-cost alternative to organic solvents. The task is to compare an open and closed loop VOC removal using real process data.

2014-15 13 – Modelling of a Forward Osmosis Using Ammonium Bicarbonate

Forward osmosis has the huge advantage, that no high pressures are required compared to reverse osmosis. This greatly simplifies membrane module construction. To achieve forward osmosis, a drawing agent is used that can later be easily separated from the otherwise salt free water. A desalination process using ammonium bicarbonate was proposed by Jeffry et al. in 2005. The task is to model and optimize this process and evaluate its economical viability.


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