December 2010

Special Report: Plant Design and Engineering

Improve engineering via whole-plant design optimization

New simulation methods identify cost-effective advantages early

Matzopoulos, M., Process Systems Enterprise Ltd.; Martín Rodríguez, H., Repsol (Technology Unit); Cano, A., Process Systems Enterprise, Inc.

Process design requires consideration of many trade-offs. Some equipment decisions may improve the economics of the units under design but negatively impact the project’s total economics, as well as the operability of the plant as a whole. By considering the entire plant simultaneously during design, it is possible to balance decisions that result in the overall best economics. This article describes the design of a propylene oxide (PO) process for Repsol. This facility design included a complex multi-tubular reactor (MTR) and a separation section with many distillation columns (two involving reaction and one using azeotropic distillation), plus large recycle flows. Through model-based

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