Interview with Jorge Martin*, Process Engineer

Knovel helped an engineer transform an unprofitable product into a profitable one.

An agriculture and herbicide company was making a solvent that was unprofitable. To make the product viable, they needed to lower the production costs. Process engineer Jorge Martin was tasked with improving the chemical process to reduce both manufacturing cycle time and plant energy costs.

Interview with Jorge Martin*, Process Engineer – Knovel | Elsevier

Challenge

Initially, making the product was taking too long and required too much energy, resulting in high manufacturing costs, process engineer Jorge Martin explains. Martin identified the stripping process as the key step to reduce energy costs. Stripping is a physical separation process where one or more components are removed from a liquid stream by a vapor stream. To optimize the stripping process he knew he would have to calculate the enthalpy of the pure and mix components in the solvent, as well as the plant’s heat capacity. These calculations would offer him critical insight into how to produce steam more efficiently and how to reduce waste steam energy costs.

Solution

Martin used Knovel to find data on the key substances used in his unit’s stripping process. Using Knovel’s search feature, I quickly found many references to the information I was seeking, Martin said. Knovel provided the data, and the interactive equations allowed me to make the feasibility calculations quickly. In addition, Martin explained that the workflow continuation of Knovel allowed me to search for the enthalpy properties, define the best options for my plant and calculate the overall energy needs of the facility within one continuous action. Finally, Martin stated that using Knovel allowed me to vastly improve test scenarios, save time and reduce cost, while producing the much needed answer to get production back on track both in terms of time, but in terms of making the product a viable option for our company.


quote, Specialty Chemical Company - Knovel | Elsevier

"We were able to not only produce more of the solvent, but to add new products to our unit’s production line as well." Jorge Martin, Process Engineer


Impact

Knovel enabled the process engineer to identify the best methods for reducing the solvent’s cycle time and optimizing the plant’s total energy costs. By significantly reducing cycle time, Martin was able to reduce conversion costs and the solvent started to generate profits. But the improved cycle time also increased the plant’s overall productivity, Martin said. We were able not only to produce more of the solvent, but to add new products to our unit’s production line as well. As a result, the plant’s asset utilization improved from nearly 40% to over 70%.

*Name has been changed to protect rights to innovation

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