Process intensification: Choosing appropriate targets

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The aim of process design is to generate the "best" process, i.e. the process that best meets the business needs. To achieve this it is important to optimise the process as a whole, and not to optimise separately the individual operations within the process. Application of process intensification (PI) can give benefits for some processes, and should be considered routinely as part of process development and design activities. There are three general approaches that can be described as PI, all of which have the aim of improving process performance: i) simplifying processes by integrating multiple process tasks in a single item of equipment, ii) reducing the size of equipment by reducing its scale of structure, and iii) reducing the size of equipment using an intensified field (centrifugal, electrical, microwave etc). Although PI is often said to have started with the work of Ramshaw in the 1970s, in fact all three approaches were used long before this. Industry is often criticised for not applying PI enthusiastically. However, for a technology to be used successfully, the business advantages need to significantly outweigh the perceived business risks. Only by understanding each process in terms of both its fundamental science and its business drivers can appropriate targets for PI be identified. Britest has generated a systematic approach for whole process design, and developed a range of strategic tools and methodologies that help deliver individual stages within this. This assists a development team to generate the "best" process, and simultaneously identify appropriate candidate processes for using PI. The Britest approach starts with developing both a business and technical understanding of the process, then uses this to generate a process concept appropriate to the specific chemistry and physics of the process, and finally chooses the equipment that is most appropriate for delivering this process concept. This type of systematic approach means that advantageous opportunities for applying PI are not missed and that PI is not pursued in cases where it gives no business benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEPIC 2011 - The Third European Process Intensification Conference, Proceedings
PublisherInstitution of Chemical Engineers
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780852955550
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event3rd European Process Intensification Conference - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 201123 Jun 2011
Conference number: 3

Publication series

NameInstitution of Chemical Engineers Symposium Series
PublisherInstitution of Chemical Engineers
ISSN (Print)0307-0492


Conference3rd European Process Intensification Conference
Abbreviated titleEPIC 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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