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In chemical engineering, process design is the choice and sequencing of units for desired physical and/or chemical transformation of materials. Process design is central to chemical engineering, and it can be considered to be the summit of that field, bringing together all of the field's components.
Process design can be the design of new facilities or it can be the modification or expansion of existing facilities. The design starts at a conceptual level and ultimately ends in the form of fabrication and construction plans.
Process design is distinct from equipment design, which is closer in spirit to the design of unit operations. Processes often include many unit operations.
Process design documents serve to define the design and they ensure that the design components fit together. They are useful in communicating ideas and plans to other engineers involved with the design, to external regulatory agencies, to equipment vendors and to construction contractors.
In order of increasing detail, process design documents include:
Process designers typically write operating manuals on how to start-up, operate and shut-down the process. They often also develop accident plans and projections of process operation on the environment.
Documents are maintained after construction of the process facility for the operating personnel to refer to. The documents also are useful when modifications to the facility are planned.
A primary method of developing the process documents is process flowsheeting.
There are several considerations that need to be made when designing any chemical process unit. Design conceptualization and considerations can begin once product purities, yields, and throughput rates are all defined.
Objectives that a design may strive to include:
Other factors that designers may include are:
Designers usually do not start from scratch, especially for complex projects. Often the engineers have pilot plant data available or data from full-scale operating facilities. Other sources of information include proprietary design criteria provided by process licensors, published scientific data, laboratory experiments, and suppliers of feedstocks and utilities.
Design starts with process synthesis - the choice of technology and combinations of industrial units to achieve goals. More detailed design proceeds as other engineers and stakeholders sign off on each stage: conceptual to detailed design.
Simulation software is often used by design engineers. Simulations can identify weaknesses in designs and allow engineers to choose better alternatives. However, engineers still rely on heuristics, intuition, and experience when designing a process. Human creativity is an element in complex designs.
Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that uses principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and economics to efficiently use, produce, design, transport and transform energy and materials. The work of chemical engineers can range from the utilization of nanotechnology and nanomaterials in the laboratory to large-scale industrial processes that convert chemicals, raw materials, living cells, microorganisms, and energy into useful forms and products.
Systems engineering is an interdisciplinary field of engineering and engineering management that focuses on how to design, integrate, and manage complex systems over their life cycles. At its core, systems engineering utilizes systems thinking principles to organize this body of knowledge. The individual outcome of such efforts, an engineered system, can be defined as a combination of components that work in synergy to collectively perform a useful function.
Fractional distillation is the separation of a mixture into its component parts, or fractions. Chemical compounds are separated by heating them to a temperature at which one or more fractions of the mixture will vaporize. It uses distillation to fractionate. Generally the component parts have boiling points that differ by less than 25 °C (45 °F) from each other under a pressure of one atmosphere. If the difference in boiling points is greater than 25 °C, a simple distillation is typically used.
A fractionating column or fractional column is an essential item used in the distillation of liquid mixtures to separate the mixture into its component parts, or fractions, based on the differences in volatilities. Fractionating columns are used in small scale laboratory distillations as well as large scale industrial distillations.
Process safety managementsystem is a regulation promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A process is any activity or combination of activities including any use, storage, manufacturing, handling or the on-site movement of highly hazardous chemicals (HHCs) as defined by OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Methods engineering is a subspecialty of industrial engineering and manufacturing engineering concerned with human integration in industrial production processes.
Continuous production is a flow production method used to manufacture, produce, or process materials without interruption. Continuous production is called a continuous process or a continuous flow process because the materials, either dry bulk or fluids that are being processed are continuously in motion, undergoing chemical reactions or subject to mechanical or heat treatment. Continuous processing is contrasted with batch production.
A chemical plant is an industrial process plant that manufactures chemicals, usually on a large scale. The general objective of a chemical plant is to create new material wealth via the chemical or biological transformation and or separation of materials. Chemical plants use specialized equipment, units, and technology in the manufacturing process. Other kinds of plants, such as polymer, pharmaceutical, food, and some beverage production facilities, power plants, oil refineries or other refineries, natural gas processing and biochemical plants, water and wastewater treatment, and pollution control equipment use many technologies that have similarities to chemical plant technology such as fluid systems and chemical reactor systems. Some would consider an oil refinery or a pharmaceutical or polymer manufacturer to be effectively a chemical plant.
Continuous distillation, a form of distillation, is an ongoing separation in which a mixture is continuously fed into the process and separated fractions are removed continuously as output streams. Distillation is the separation or partial separation of a liquid feed mixture into components or fractions by selective boiling and condensation. The process produces at least two output fractions. These fractions include at least one volatile distillate fraction, which has boiled and been separately captured as a vapor condensed to a liquid, and practically always a bottoms fraction, which is the least volatile residue that has not been separately captured as a condensed vapor.
A pilot plant is a pre-commercial production system that employs new production technology and/or produces small volumes of new technology-based products, mainly for the purpose of learning about the new technology. The knowledge obtained is then used for design of full-scale production systems and commercial products, as well as for identification of further research objectives and support of investment decisions. Other (non-technical) purposes include gaining public support for new technologies and questioning government regulations. Pilot plant is a relative term in the sense that pilot plants are typically smaller than full-scale production plants, but are built in a range of sizes. Also, as pilot plants are intended for learning, they typically are more flexible, possibly at the expense of economy. Some pilot plants are built in laboratories using stock lab equipment, while others require substantial engineering efforts, cost millions of dollars, and are custom-assembled and fabricated from process equipment, instrumentation and piping. They can also be used to train personnel for a full-scale plant. Pilot plants tend to be smaller compared to demonstration plants.
In engineering, a process is a series of interrelated tasks that, together, transform inputs into a given output. These tasks may be carried out by people, nature or machines using various resources; an engineering process must be considered in the context of the agents carrying out the tasks and the resource attributes involved. Systems engineering normative documents and those related to Maturity Models are typically based on processes, for example, systems engineering processes of the EIA-632 and processes involved in the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) institutionalization and improvement approach. Constraints imposed on the tasks and resources required to implement them are essential for executing the tasks mentioned.
Sedimentation is a physical water treatment process using gravity to remove suspended solids from water. Solid particles entrained by the turbulence of moving water may be removed naturally by sedimentation in the still water of lakes and oceans. Settling basins are ponds constructed for the purpose of removing entrained solids by sedimentation. Clarifiers are tanks built with mechanical means for continuous removal of solids being deposited by sedimentation. Clarification does not remove dissolved species. Sedimentation is the act of depositing sediment.
Secondary treatment is a treatment process for wastewater to achieve a certain degree of effluent quality by using a sewage treatment plant with physical phase separation to remove settleable solids and a biological process to remove dissolved and suspended organic compounds. After this kind of treatment, the wastewater may be called as secondary-treated wastewater.
A process flow diagram (PFD) is a diagram commonly used in chemical and process engineering to indicate the general flow of plant processes and equipment. The PFD displays the relationship between major equipment of a plant facility and does not show minor details such as piping details and designations. Another commonly used term for a PFD is a flowsheet.
The McCabe–Thiele method is considered to be the simplest and perhaps most instructive method for the analysis of binary distillation. It uses the fact that the composition at each theoretical tray is completely determined by the mole fraction of one of the two components and is based on the assumption of constant molar overflow which requires that:
Heinz P. Bloch is a mechanical engineer with specialization in failure avoidance, machinery maintenance cost reduction and machinery reliability improvement. As of 2020 he has authored over 760 technical papers and conference publications and has written 23 books on practical machinery management and oil mist lubrication. He holds seven U.S. patents relating to high speed machinery.
The COCO Simulator is a free-of-charge, non-commercial, graphical, modular and CAPE-OPEN compliant, steady-state, sequential simulation process modeling environment. It was originally intended as a test environment for CAPE-OPEN modeling tools but now provides free chemical process simulation for students. It is an open flowsheet modeling environment allowing anyone to add new unit operations or thermodynamics packages.
A lamella clarifier or inclined plate settler (IPS) is a type of settler designed to remove Particulates from liquids.
Reflux is a technique involving the condensation of vapors and the return of this condensate to the system from which it originated. It is used in industrial and laboratory distillations. It is also used in chemistry to supply energy to reactions over a long period of time.
PRO/II from the AVEVA SimSci brand is a steady-state process simulator for process design and operational analysis for process engineers in the chemical, petroleum, natural gas, solids processing, and polymer industries.