Studies on process synthesis and process integration

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Virginia Tech

This thesis discusses topics in the field of process engineering that have received much attention over the past twenty years: (1) conceptual process synthesis using heuristic shortcut methods and (2) process integration through heat-exchanger networks and energy-saving power and refrigeration systems.

The shortcut methods for conceptual process synthesis presented in Chapter 2, utilize Residue Curve Maps in ternary diagrams and are illustrated with examples of processes for separating azeotropic mixtures. This chapter constitutes a comprehensive review of the most relevant literature of the last twenty years and was itself accepted for publication in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research in the Spring of 1994. We demonstrate the usefulness of RCMs as both a tool for teaching the complex techniques necessary for separating azeotropic mixtures and as a practical engineering aid for conceptual design of separation processes. We also give proper clarifications of some traditional misconceptions and contradicting recommendations in the literature.

The introduction to and demonstration of process-integration topics in Chapters 3 through 6 are of value to both new and more experienced process engineers. The in-depth treatment of meaningful case studies in Chapters 4, 5 and 6 contain much useful information concerning complex heat-integration and process-retrofit problems. Chapter 4 discusses aspects of multiple-pinch heat-integration problems and ways to tackle them with two of the latest commercial process-integration softwares. Chapter 5 presents a review of and an extension to an Ethylene Plant Retrofit case study taken from the ADVENT Examples Manual (Aspen Technology, 1993), while Chapter 6 does the same for an Ethylene Plant Retrofit case study published earlier by the CACHE Corporation in 1985.