March 22, 2011

Process Intensification - 1

Process Intensification is basically a miniaturisation of process equipments and is a revolutionary approach to process and plant design & is not very old concept, hardly a decade old.

The concept was originally pioneered in the 1970s by Colin Ramshaw and his co-workers at ICI, where PI was defined as a 'reduction in plant size by at least a factor 100'. PI is about providing a chemical process with the precise environment required which results in better products, and processes which are safer, cleaner, smaller - and cheaper.

PI (as practised at BHR Group) is a business driven approach - the focus is always on what business benefits are targeted and might be achieved.

Features of PI Solutions

  • Move from batch to continuous processing.

  • Use of intensive reactor technologies with high mixing and heat transfer rates (e.g. FlexReactor, HEX Reactors) in place of conventional stirred tanks.

  • Multidisciplinary approach, which considers opportunities to improve the process technology and underlying chemistry at the same time.

  • 'Plug and play' process technology to provide flexibility in a multiproduct environment

  • Established PI Benefits

  • capital cost reduced by 60%.

  • 90% reduction in impurity levels resulting in significantly more valuable product.

  • 70% plus reduction in energy usage and hence substantial reduction in operating cost.

  • 90% yield first time out - better than fully optimised batch process.

  • 99% reduction in reactor volume for a potentially hazardous process, leading to inherently safe operation.

    In simple words process intensification is the development of novel equipments and techniques, as compared to the present state-of-art, to bring dramatic improvements in manufacturing and processing, substantially decreasing equipment size/production-capacity ratio, energy consumption, or waste production.

    Perhaps a simpler definition could be; any chemical engineering development that leads to a substantially smaller, cleaner, and more energy-efficient technology is process intensification but the development of new catalysts is not part of PI.

    Image from University of Twente

    It should be noted that many of the equipments are of type never known before but there are quite few equipments which have been available to the chemical engineer but their potential was never fully exploited. Examples are compact heat exchangers, static mixers, etc.

    Examples of new developments are the HIGEE column, spinning disc reactor, oscillating flow reactor, loop reactors, spinning tube in tube reactor, Heat exchange reactor, supersonic gas liquid reactor, static mixing catalysts, microchannel reactors, microchannel heat exchangers, etc.

    Process intensification involves the development of new compact devices and techniques that will lead to substantial improvements in the production processes, reductions in the size of production equipment, lower investment costs, lower energy use and waste production, and finally to more sustainable technologies.

    So in short, Process Intensification is basically increasing the output by reducing equipment size & the associated benefits are the reduced energy consumption, lesser impurity formation, more selectivity & hence more yield, lesser waste, reduced hazards due to handling smaller volumes etc.

    In my next post I will try to cover few equipments one by one in more detail.

  • Some part of this article is from BHR site

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    March 08, 2011

    ISO - Standard or Business - 3

    Sorry friends, was away for quite some time due to my busy schedule & now I am partially back. Partially back becasue still busy but now trying to put some time as I got few ideas to share with. So going ahead from the last post ont he topic........

    Now further claims from ISO:
    "ISO standards contribute to making the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner."

    Another example of escaping scope is - many companies cover only few manufacturing activities mainly technical part of it. They do not want to include other processes as TPM system specify for example, purchase, employee welfare, HRD, P&A, Accounts are seldomly involved in the implementation. Do you think, it is correct in total spirit of implementing a world class standard? Do you think it would be efficient without involving total value chain?


    your processes & hence quality can never be at world class level if your total supply chain or value chain is not involved in the combined process. Example: if you leave out your purchase to non-standard or substandard quality how can you call it of world class standard & safer? Then re-working on it, so how it can be efficient also?

    Here is one more quote from ISO which itself says that in the entire system there is no mention about employees - "The International Standards which ISO develops are very useful. They are useful to industrial and business organizations of all types, to governments and other regulatory bodies, to trade officials, to conformity assessment professionals, to suppliers and customers of products and services in both public and private sectors, and, ultimately, to people in general in their roles as consumers and end users".

    So contribution of ISO towards making not only manufacturing & supply of products but services also efficient & better is totally an imaginary thing & is beyond somebody’s brain to believe on such statements & claims. Tell me is it possible to have better services if one of your main or supportive function is not covered under ISO. But you can’t show me any single company where all the functions or sub processes have been covered.

    I am totally puzzled when I think why is it permitted? Or why the provision is kept to permit such exclusions & then only answer I repeatedly get is that ISO is not meant for any systems – it is just to sell their own business / certificates - & again it’s a two way business for some American / European companies or whosoever sells it – HOW………ISO sells the certificate & to help them in selling these certificates, the companies demand you to be certified by ISO (because it is BETTER) & as a result the product / service from their competitor also become costlier. Therefore, ISO is not a certification now it’s a business organization which is running with the help of many companies.

    Any standardization process can not be by choice that too for a so claimed world class standard. How can you think of a company manufacturing process be at world class while the person who is running it, is exploited or is not working under minimum working atmosphere guidelines for example – Companies normally ask employees for overtime during shutdown periods etc and long stay hours can extend up to 16 Hrs a day. Yes of course an off is also given or some double gap is allowed however, do you think if somebody stretches himself beyond 8 hrs that too in night shift can work safely. Can ISO justify this? It is my direct question to any of ISO consultants / experts – can they justify it? In the name of business needs we are exploiting them & no company would like to loose such opportunities and therefore, ISO permits such exclusions’ so that both are happy……Company is also happy having ISO & ISO is also happy after selling – else no one will buy it.

    Learning -2 Without considering all aspects i.e. Man, Machine & Material, standard cannot be implemented in totality and it cannot be safer & efficient.

    Disclaimer - This is a series of my personal views on ISO systems, its implementation, Effectiveness etc. They do not carry any legal issue related to my personal views under the human right of "Freedom of Speech".

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