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Modeling of Process Intensification – An Introduction and Overview

Frerich J. Keil

As noted by Hüther et al. [1], the term “process intensification” (PI) was probably first mentioned in the 1970s by Kleemann et al. [2] and Ramshaw [3]. Ramshaw, among others, pioneered work in the field of process intensification. What does “process intensification” (PI) mean? Over the last two decades, different defini- tions of this term were published. Cross and Ramshaw defined PI as follows: “Process intensification is a term used to describe the strategy of reducing the size of chemical plant needed to achieve a given production objective” [4]. In a review of PI, Stankiewicz and Moulijn [5] proposed: “Any chemical engineering development that leads to a substantially smaller, cleaner, and more energy- efficient technology is process intensification”. The BHR Group describes PI as follows [6]: “Process Intensification is a revolutionary approach to process and plant design, development and implementation. Providing a chemical process with the precise environment it needs to flourish results in better products, and processes which are safer, cleaner, smaller, and cheaper. PI does not just replace old, inefficient plant with new, intensified equipment. It can challenge business models, opening up opportunities for new patentable products and process chem- istry and change to just-in-time or distributed manufacture”. To bring forward PI, Degussa established a so-called “project house” whose research activities are focused on PI. Degussa expanded the meaning of the concept “process intensifi- cation”: “Process intensification defines a holistic approach starting with an analysis of economic constraints followed by the selection or development of a production process. Process intensification aims at drastic improvements of per- formance of a process, by rethinking the process as a whole. In particular it can lead to the manufacture of new products which could not be produced by conven- tional process technology. The process-intensification process itself is “constantly financially evaluated” [1, 7]. As can be recognized from the above definitions, process intensification is a developing field of research and far away from a ma- ture status. The chemical industry and academia are very interested in PI develop- ments. For example, some German chemical engineering associations (DECHE- MA, VDI-GVC) established a subject division on process intensification, which has already more than 180 members. In the opening session of this division

Modeling of Process Intensification. Edited by F. J. Keil

Copyright © 2007 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim ISBN: 978-3-527-31143-9

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