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- Process integration; process intensification; heat integration; process debottlenecking
Continuous process improvement is a critical element in maintaining competitiveness of the process industries. An important category of process improvement is process debottlenecking which is associated with plants that have sold-out products while making a profit. In such cases, market conditions and the prospects for enhancing revenues and profits drive the process to increase production. To overcome the limitation of conventional sequential unit-by-unit debottlenecking approach, this work introduces a new approach. This new approach is simultaneous in nature and is based on posing the debottlenecking task as a process integration task which links all the design and operating degrees of freedom and exploits synergies among the units and streams to attain maximum debottlenecking. Additionally, this new approach considers heat integration of the process while simultaneously performing the debottlenecking. Because of the general nonconvexity of the process model, a rigorous interval-based bounding technique is used to determine the target for maximum extent of debottlenecking aside from the problem nonconvexity. Inclusion isotonicity using interval arithmetic is used to determine a global bound for the maximum extent of process debottlenecking. Focus is given to no/low cost debottlenecking such as modest changes in design and operating degrees of freedom. Two case studies are solved to illustrate the applicability of the new approach and its superior results compared to the conventional sequential approach. Intensification, to debottleneck a process and to improve process safety is also addressed in this work. A new definition and classification of intensification is introduced. This classification distinguishes between two types of intensification: single unit and whole process. Process integration and optimization techniques are used to develop a systematic procedure for process intensification. Focus is given to the interaction among the process units while enhancing the intensification of the process. A case study is solved to illustrate the usefulness of the developed approach.