An Innovative Synthesis Methodology for Process Intensification

Philip Lutze

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Process intensification (PI) has the potential to improve existing processes or create new process
options, which are needed in order to produce products using more sustainable methods.
A variety of intensified equipment has been developed which potentially creates a large number of
options to improve a process. However, to date only a limited number have achieved implementation in
industry, such as reactive distillation, dividing wall columns and reverse flow reactors. A reason for this is
that the identification of the best PI option is neither simple nor systematic. That is to decide where and
how the process should be intensified for the biggest improvement. Until now, most PI has been
selected based on case‐based trial‐and‐error procedures, not comparing different PI options on a
quantitative basis.
Therefore, the objective of this PhD project is to develop a systematic synthesis/design methodology to
achieve PI. It allows the quick identification of the best PI option on a quantitative basis and will push
the implementation and acceptance of PI in industry. Such a methodology should be able to handle a
large number of options. The method of solution should be efficient, robust and reliable using a welldefined
screening procedure. It should be able to use already existing PI equipment as well as to
generate novel PI equipment.
This PhD‐project succeeded in developing such a synthesis/design methodology. In order to manage the
complexities involved, the methodology employs a decomposition‐based solution approach. Starting
from an analysis of existing processes, the methodology generates a set of PI process options.
Subsequently, the initial search space is reduced through an ordered sequence of steps. As the search
space decreases, more process details are added, increasing the complexity of the mathematical
problem but decreasing its size. The best PI options are ordered in terms of a performance index and a
related set are verified through detailed process simulation. Two building blocks can be used for the
synthesis/design which is PI unit‐operations as well as phenomena. The use of PI unit‐operations as
building block aims to allow a quicker implementation/retrofit of processes while phenomena as
building blocks enable the ability to develop novel process solutions beyond those currently in
existence. Implementation of this methodology requires the use of a number of methods/algorithms,
models, databases, etc., in the different steps which have been developed. PI unit‐operations are stored
and retrieved from a knowledge‐base tool. Phenomena are stored and retrieved from a phenomena
The PI synthesis/design methodology has been tested for both building blocks on a number of case
studies from different areas such as conventional and bio‐based bulk chemicals as well as
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDTU Chemical Engineering
Number of pages346
ISBN (Print)978-87-92481-67-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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