Identifying the most cost-effective approach for debottlenecking in a polypropylene plant
Knovel helped an engineering team increase capacity, avoid shutdowns and save millions.
Anoush Taline* is a process engineer for one of the top producers of bulk petrochemicals, including polypropylene. Her company is also the world’s leading licensor of polypropylene manufacturing technology. As part of the contractual agreement with customers who license their technology, Anoush is part of a global team of engineers that works closely with their customers for process design, scale-up and other operational support processes. This is important given the complexity of plant and manufacturing operations.
Typically, the customers at Anoush’s company are looking for ways to increase production capacity by debottlenecking production, but without increasing CAPEX expenditure to do so. In one project, Anoush’s team was challenged to undertake a debottlenecking project to optimize overall production without reducing yield. This would potentially reconfigure the plant’s equipment and production process to support new production capacity.
From the start, Anoush’s team turned to Knovel to help evaluate and identify cost effective approaches to debottlenecking the plant. The team determined that an increase in throughput through the reactor was the most practical approach, and that a decrease in reaction time would lead to an increase in the amount and variety of fine polymer particles being produced—which would optimize overall production.
Knovel was used to make key unit operations selection decisions for a highly complex manufacturing process. Ultimately, these choices helped prevent build-up of fine particles in piping and instrumentation systems, which can result in unplanned (and very expensive) plant shutdowns.
"Knovel was a trusted resource for collaboration across a global team of engineers and was used to make key decisions for a highly complex manufacturing process." Anoush Taline, Principal Process Engineer and Team Lead
For Anoush’s company, typical capacity increase targets for large-scale bulk polymer production facilities can be as high as 20%. Based on their models for this project, they expected their solution would result in an annual topline increase of tens of millions of dollars. Thanks to Knovel, they were able to optimize the manufacturing process, which resulted in increasing capacity, avoiding shutdowns and bolstering profit margins in the long-term.
*Name has been changed to protect rights to innovation
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