Pilot plants are the middle ground that shouldn’t be overlooked in upscaling a new lab proven formula. Well executed pilot skids are beneficial in obtaining more data on a process, and validating a model before taking it full scale, saving you headaches and money in the long run.
Let it be known that pilot plant production system is not the simple, trivial solution to an industrial scale plant. The design and process is just as complicated; additionally, their implementation typically fits into a tight, already existing space within a facility. That aside, with proper execution they can cost effectively lower the risk factor of increasing the size of a new process.
What do you need to know to make it work?
There are hurdles to overcome with the scale up of any new process. Thoughtful consideration engineering by a professional process scale-up specialist is critical to resolve these issues in simulation before system fabrication.
- Reaction Kinetics – Efficiently mixing solution elements together to reach equilibrium
- Chemical Equilibrium – Reactions are not efficient until equilibrium. Increases quantities = more time required
- Material Properties – Material should not influence reactions, erode over time or make system unduly costly
- Fluid Dynamics – Fluids should be kept at correct Reynolds Number for thermal transfer
- Thermodynamics – Reaction temperature must be controlled and monitored to keep the process in control
- Equipment selection – correct sizing of equipment, piping and instrumentation
- Agitation Issues – The correct amount of turbulence requires more power to achieve as chemical amounts increase
Scale-up specialists use the best modeling practices to use to simulate the variables and limitations listed above. Modeling and simulation methods may include; chemical simulated studies, mathematical modeling, Aspen Plus/HYSYS Modeling, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
How to make it happen!
The 7 step process to complete your modular process scale-up:
- Select your scale-up designer
- Complete the design
- Develop 3-D modeling and simulation
- Begin automation on pilot plant
- Fabricate and assemble module
- Install the completed system (can be in already running facility)
- Commission all skids
As mentioned earlier, a pilot plant is the most reliant source for scaling up your process. Follow these links to learn more about examples of successful pilot plant development and installation:
To discuss in more detail different pilot plant strategies, please contact an EPIC engineer today.