Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Processes in 2016
Processes 2017, 5(1), 4; doi:10.3390/pr5010004 -
Abstract The editors of Processes would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Integration of RTO and MPC in the Hydrogen Network of a Petrol Refinery
Processes 2017, 5(1), 3; doi:10.3390/pr5010003 -
Abstract
This paper discusses the problems associated with the implementation of Real Time Optimization/Model Predictive Control (RTO/MPC) systems, taking as reference the hydrogen distribution network of an oil refinery involving eighteen plants. This paper addresses the main problems related to the operation of the
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This paper discusses the problems associated with the implementation of Real Time Optimization/Model Predictive Control (RTO/MPC) systems, taking as reference the hydrogen distribution network of an oil refinery involving eighteen plants. This paper addresses the main problems related to the operation of the network, combining data reconciliation and a RTO system, designed for the optimal generation and redistribution of hydrogen, with a predictive controller for the on-line implementation of the optimal policies. This paper describes the architecture of the implementation, showing how RTO and MPC can be integrated, as well as the benefits obtained in terms of improved information about the process, increased hydrocarbon load to the treatment plants and reduction of the hydrogen required for performing the operations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Modifier-Adaptation Strategy towards Offset-Free Economic MPC
Processes 2017, 5(1), 2; doi:10.3390/pr5010002 -
Abstract
We address in the paper the problem of designing an economic model predictive control (EMPC) algorithm that asymptotically achieves the optimal performance despite the presence of plant-model mismatch. To motivate the problem, we present an example of a continuous stirred tank reactor in
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We address in the paper the problem of designing an economic model predictive control (EMPC) algorithm that asymptotically achieves the optimal performance despite the presence of plant-model mismatch. To motivate the problem, we present an example of a continuous stirred tank reactor in which available EMPC and tracking model predictive control (MPC) algorithms do not reach the optimal steady state operation. We propose to use an offset-free disturbance model and to modify the target optimization problem with a correction term that is iteratively computed to enforce the necessary conditions of optimality in the presence of plant-model mismatch. Then, we show how the proposed formulation behaves on the motivating example, highlighting the role of the stage cost function used in the finite horizon MPC problem. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Analysis of the Directional-Modifier Adaptation Algorithm Based on Optimal Experimental Design
Processes 2017, 5(1), 1; doi:10.3390/pr5010001 -
Abstract
The modifier approach has been extensively explored and offers a theoretically-sound and practically-useful method to deploy real-time optimization. The recent directional-modifier adaptation algorithm offers a heuristic to tackle the modifier approach. The directional-modifier adaptation algorithm, supported by strong theoretical properties and the ease
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The modifier approach has been extensively explored and offers a theoretically-sound and practically-useful method to deploy real-time optimization. The recent directional-modifier adaptation algorithm offers a heuristic to tackle the modifier approach. The directional-modifier adaptation algorithm, supported by strong theoretical properties and the ease of deployment in practice, proposes a meaningful compromise between process optimality and quickly improving the quality of the estimation of the gradient of the process cost function. This paper proposes a novel view of the directional-modifier adaptation algorithm, as an approximation of the optimal trade-off between the underlying experimental design problem and the process optimization problem. It moreover suggests a minor modification in the tuning of the algorithm, so as to make it a more genuine approximation. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Modifier Adaptation for Real-Time Optimization—Methods and Applications
Processes 2016, 4(4), 55; doi:10.3390/pr4040055 -
Abstract
This paper presents an overview of the recent developments of modifier-adaptation schemes for real-time optimization of uncertain processes. These schemes have the ability to reach plant optimality upon convergence despite the presence of structural plant-model mismatch. Modifier Adaptation has its origins in the
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This paper presents an overview of the recent developments of modifier-adaptation schemes for real-time optimization of uncertain processes. These schemes have the ability to reach plant optimality upon convergence despite the presence of structural plant-model mismatch. Modifier Adaptation has its origins in the technique of Integrated System Optimization and Parameter Estimation, but differs in the definition of the modifiers and in the fact that no parameter estimation is required. This paper reviews the fundamentals of Modifier Adaptation and provides an overview of several variants and extensions. Furthermore, the paper discusses different methods for estimating the required gradients (or modifiers) from noisy measurements. We also give an overview of the application studies available in the literature. Finally, the paper briefly discusses open issues so as to promote future research in this area. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Techno-Economic Feasibility Study of Renewable Power Systems for a Small-Scale Plasma-Assisted Nitric Acid Plant in Africa
Processes 2016, 4(4), 54; doi:10.3390/pr4040054 -
Abstract
The expected world population growth by 2050 is likely to pose great challenges in the global food demand and, in turn, in the fertilizer consumption. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has forecasted that 46% of this projected growth will
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The expected world population growth by 2050 is likely to pose great challenges in the global food demand and, in turn, in the fertilizer consumption. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has forecasted that 46% of this projected growth will be attributed to Africa. This, in turn, raises further concerns about the sustainability of Africa’s contemporary fertilizer production, considering also its high dependence on fertilizer imports. Based on these facts, a novel “green” route for the synthesis of fertilizers has been considered in the context of the African agriculture by means of plasma technology. More precisely, a techno-economic feasibility study has been conducted for a small-scale plasma-assisted nitric acid plant located in Kenya and South Africa with respect to the electricity provision by renewable energy sources. In this study, standalone solar and wind power systems, as well as a hybrid system, have been assessed for two different electricity loads against certain economic criteria. The relevant simulations have been carried out in HOMER software and the optimized configurations of each examined renewable power system are presented in this study. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Model Predictive Control of the Exit Part Temperature for an Austenitization Furnace
Processes 2016, 4(4), 53; doi:10.3390/pr4040053 -
Abstract
Quench hardening is the process of strengthening and hardening ferrous metals and alloys by heating the material to a specific temperature to form austenite (austenitization), followed by rapid cooling (quenching) in water, brine or oil to introduce a hardened phase called martensite. The
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Quench hardening is the process of strengthening and hardening ferrous metals and alloys by heating the material to a specific temperature to form austenite (austenitization), followed by rapid cooling (quenching) in water, brine or oil to introduce a hardened phase called martensite. The material is then often tempered to increase toughness, as it may decrease from the quench hardening process. The austenitization process is highly energy-intensive and many of the industrial austenitization furnaces were built and equipped prior to the advent of advanced control strategies and thus use large, sub-optimal amounts of energy. The model computes the energy usage of the furnace and the part temperature profile as a function of time and position within the furnace under temperature feedback control. In this paper, the aforementioned model is used to simulate the furnace for a batch of forty parts under heuristic temperature set points suggested by the operators of the plant. A model predictive control (MPC) system is then developed and deployed to control the the part temperature at the furnace exit thereby preventing the parts from overheating. An energy efficiency gain of 5.3% was obtained under model predictive control compared to operation under heuristic temperature set points tracked by a regulatory control layer. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Real-Time Optimization under Uncertainty Applied to a Gas Lifted Well Network
Processes 2016, 4(4), 52; doi:10.3390/pr4040052 -
Abstract
In this work, we consider the problem of daily production optimization in the upstream oil and gas domain. The objective is to find the optimal decision variables that utilize the production systems efficiently and maximize the revenue. Typically, mathematical models are used to
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In this work, we consider the problem of daily production optimization in the upstream oil and gas domain. The objective is to find the optimal decision variables that utilize the production systems efficiently and maximize the revenue. Typically, mathematical models are used to find the optimal operation in such processes. However, such prediction models are subject to uncertainty that has been often overlooked, and the optimal solution based on nominal models can thus render the solution useless and may lead to infeasibility when implemented. To ensure robust feasibility, worst case optimization may be employed; however, the solution may be rather conservative. Alternatively, we propose the use of scenario-based optimization to reduce the conservativeness. The results of the nominal, worst case and scenario-based optimization are compared and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Species Coexistence in Nitrifying Chemostats: A Model of Microbial Interactions
Processes 2016, 4(4), 51; doi:10.3390/pr4040051 -
Abstract
In a previous study, the two nitrifying functions (ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) or nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB)) of a nitrification reactor—operated continuously over 525 days with varying inputs—were assigned using a mathematical modeling approach together with the monitoring of bacterial phylotypes. Based on these
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In a previous study, the two nitrifying functions (ammonia oxidizing bacteria (AOB) or nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB)) of a nitrification reactor—operated continuously over 525 days with varying inputs—were assigned using a mathematical modeling approach together with the monitoring of bacterial phylotypes. Based on these theoretical identifications, we develop here a chemostat model that does not explicitly include only the resources’ dynamics (different forms of soluble nitrogen) but also explicitly takes into account microbial inter- and intra-species interactions for the four dominant phylotypes detected in the chemostat. A comparison of the models obtained with and without interactions has shown that such interactions permit the coexistence of two competing ammonium-oxidizing bacteria and two competing nitrite-oxidizing bacteria in competition for ammonium and nitrite, respectively. These interactions are analyzed and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)-Based Droplet Size Estimates in Emulsification Equipment
Processes 2016, 4(4), 50; doi:10.3390/pr4040050 -
Abstract
While academic literature shows steady progress in combining multi-phase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and population balance modelling (PBM) of emulsification processes, the computational burden of this approach is still too large for routine use in industry. The challenge, thus, is to link a
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While academic literature shows steady progress in combining multi-phase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and population balance modelling (PBM) of emulsification processes, the computational burden of this approach is still too large for routine use in industry. The challenge, thus, is to link a sufficiently detailed flow analysis to the droplet behavior in a way that is both physically relevant and computationally manageable. In this research article we propose the use of single-phase CFD to map out the local maximum stable droplet diameter within a given device, based on well-known academic droplet break-up studies in quasi-steady 2D linear flows. The results of the latter are represented by analytical correlations for the critical capillary number, which are valid across a wide viscosity ratio range. Additionally, we suggest a parameter to assess how good the assumption of quasi-steady 2D flow is locally. The approach is demonstrated for a common lab-scale rotor-stator device (Ultra-Turrax, IKA-Werke GmbH, Staufen, Germany). It is found to provide useful insights with minimal additional user coding and little increase in computational effort compared to the single-phase CFD simulations of the flow field, as such. Some suggestions for further development are briefly discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Online Optimization Applied to a Shockless Explosion Combustor
Processes 2016, 4(4), 48; doi:10.3390/pr4040048 -
Abstract
Changing the combustion process of a gas turbine from a constant-pressure to a pressure-increasing approximate constant-volume combustion (aCVC) is one of the most promising ways to increase the efficiency of turbines in the future. In this paper, a newly proposed method to achieve
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Changing the combustion process of a gas turbine from a constant-pressure to a pressure-increasing approximate constant-volume combustion (aCVC) is one of the most promising ways to increase the efficiency of turbines in the future. In this paper, a newly proposed method to achieve such an aCVC is considered. The so-called shockless explosion combustion (SEC) uses auto-ignition and a fuel stratification to achieve a spatially homogeneous ignition. The homogeneity of the ignition can be adjusted by the mixing of fuel and air. A proper filling profile, however, also depends on changing parameters, such as temperature, that cannot be measured in detail due to the harsh conditions inside the combustion tube. Therefore, a closed-loop control is required to obtain an adequate injection profile and to reject such unknown disturbances. For this, an optimization problem is set up and a novel formulation of a discrete extremum seeking controller is presented. By approximating the cost function with a parabola, the first derivative and a Hessian matrix are estimated, allowing the controller to use Newton steps to converge to the optimal control trajectory. The controller is applied to an atmospheric test rig, where the auto-ignition process can be investigated for single ignitions. In the set-up, dimethyl ether is injected into a preheated air stream using a controlled proportional valve. Optical measurements are used to evaluate the auto-ignition process and to show that using the extremum seeking control approach, the homogeneity of the ignition process can be increased significantly. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
From Single Microparticles to Microfluidic Emulsification: Fundamental Properties (Solubility, Density, Phase Separation) from Micropipette Manipulation of Solvent, Drug and Polymer Microspheres
Processes 2016, 4(4), 49; doi:10.3390/pr4040049 -
Abstract
The micropipette manipulation technique is capable of making fundamental single particle measurements and analyses. This information is critical for establishing processing parameters in systems such as microfluidics and homogenization. To demonstrate what can be achieved at the single particle level, the micropipette technique
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The micropipette manipulation technique is capable of making fundamental single particle measurements and analyses. This information is critical for establishing processing parameters in systems such as microfluidics and homogenization. To demonstrate what can be achieved at the single particle level, the micropipette technique was used to form and characterize the encapsulation of Ibuprofen (Ibp) into poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microspheres from dichloromethane (DCM) solutions, measuring the loading capacity and solubility limits of Ibp in typical PLGA microspheres. Formed in phosphate buffered saline (PBS), pH 7.4, Ibp/PLGA/DCM microdroplets were uniformly solidified into Ibp/PLGA microparticles up to drug loadings (DL) of 41%. However, at DL 50 wt% and above, microparticles showed a phase separated pattern. Working with single microparticles, we also estimated the dissolution time of pure Ibp microspheres in the buffer or in detergent micelle solutions, as a function of the microsphere size and compare that to calculated dissolution times using the Epstein-Plesset (EP) model. Single, pure Ibp microparticles precipitated as liquid phase microdroplets that then gradually dissolved into the surrounding PBS medium. Analyzing the dissolution profiles of Ibp over time, a diffusion coefficient of 5.5 ± 0.2 × 10−6 cm2/s was obtained by using the EP model, which was in excellent agreement with the literature. Finally, solubilization of Ibp into sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) micelles was directly visualized microscopically for the first time by the micropipette technique, showing that such micellization could increase the solubility of Ibp from 4 to 80 mM at 100 mM SDS. We also introduce a particular microfluidic device that has recently been used to make PLGA microspheres, showing the importance of optimizing the flow parameters. Using this device, perfectly smooth and size-homogeneous microparticles were formed for flow rates of 0.167 mL/h for the dispersed phase (Qd) and 1.67 mL/h for the water phase (Qc), i.e., a flow rate ratio Qd/Qc of 10, based on parameters such as interfacial tension, dissolution rates and final concentrations. Thus, using the micropipette technique to observe the formation, and quantify solvent dissolution, solidification or precipitation of an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) or excipient for single and individual microparticles, represents a very useful tool for understanding microsphere-processes and hence can help to establish process conditions without resorting to expensive and material-consuming bulk particle runs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Viscosity on the Static and Dynamic Properties of PS-PEO Covered Emulsion Drops
Processes 2016, 4(4), 47; doi:10.3390/pr4040047 -
Abstract
Polymer stabilized emulsions are commonplace in industries ranging from cosmetics and foods to pharmaceuticals. Understanding the physical properties of emulsions is of critical importance to the rapid advancement of industrial applications. In this work, we use a sessile drop geometry to examine the
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Polymer stabilized emulsions are commonplace in industries ranging from cosmetics and foods to pharmaceuticals. Understanding the physical properties of emulsions is of critical importance to the rapid advancement of industrial applications. In this work, we use a sessile drop geometry to examine the effects of viscosity changes of the surrounding glycerine/water solution on polystyrene-b-polyethylene oxide (PS-PEO) covered toluene droplets. In the experiment, emulsion drops are driven by the buoyant force into a smooth mica surface. The drops buckle as they approach the mica, trapping some of the outer fluid which slowly drains out over time. The characteristic time of the drainage process as well as the surface tension was measured as a function of glycerine/water concentration. The surface tension is found to have a minimum at a glycerine concentration of approximately 50% (by weight to water) and the drainage rate is shown to be well described by a recent model. The simple experiment not only shows how critical features of emulsion stability can be easily and reliably measured, but also identifies important new features of the drainage process. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Extending Applications of High-Pressure Homogenization by Using Simultaneous Emulsification and Mixing (SEM)—An Overview
Processes 2016, 4(4), 46; doi:10.3390/pr4040046 -
Abstract
Conventional high-pressure homogenization (HPH) is widely used in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and food industries among others. In general, its aim is to produce micron or sub-micron scale emulsions with excellent product characteristics. However, its energy consumption is still very high. Additionally, several limitations
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Conventional high-pressure homogenization (HPH) is widely used in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and food industries among others. In general, its aim is to produce micron or sub-micron scale emulsions with excellent product characteristics. However, its energy consumption is still very high. Additionally, several limitations and boundaries impede the usage of high-pressure homogenization for special products such as particle loaded or highly concentrated systems. This article gives an overview of approaches that have been used in order to improve the conventional high-pressure homogenization process. Emphasis is put on the ‘Simultaneous Emulsification and Mixing’ process that has been developed to broaden the application areas of high-pressure homogenization. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Study of Explorative Moves during Modifier Adaptation with Quadratic Approximation
Processes 2016, 4(4), 45; doi:10.3390/pr4040045 -
Abstract
Modifier adaptation with quadratic approximation (in short MAWQA) can adapt the operating condition of a process to its economic optimum by combining the use of a theoretical process model and of the collected data during process operation. The efficiency of the MAWQA algorithm
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Modifier adaptation with quadratic approximation (in short MAWQA) can adapt the operating condition of a process to its economic optimum by combining the use of a theoretical process model and of the collected data during process operation. The efficiency of the MAWQA algorithm can be attributed to a well-designed mechanism which ensures the improvement of the economic performance by taking necessary explorative moves. This paper gives a detailed study of the mechanism of performing explorative moves during modifier adaptation with quadratic approximation. The necessity of the explorative moves is theoretically analyzed. Simulation results for the optimization of a hydroformylation process are used to illustrate the efficiency of the MAWQA algorithm over the finite difference based modifier adaptation algorithm. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Performance Evaluation of Real Industrial RTO Systems
Processes 2016, 4(4), 44; doi:10.3390/pr4040044 -
Abstract
The proper design of RTO systems’ structure and critical diagnosis tools is neglected in commercial RTO software and poorly discussed in the literature. In a previous article, Quelhas et al. (Can J Chem Eng., 2013, 91, 652–668) have reviewed the concepts behind the
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The proper design of RTO systems’ structure and critical diagnosis tools is neglected in commercial RTO software and poorly discussed in the literature. In a previous article, Quelhas et al. (Can J Chem Eng., 2013, 91, 652–668) have reviewed the concepts behind the two-step RTO approach and discussed the vulnerabilities of intuitive, experience-based RTO design choices. This work evaluates and analyzes the performance of industrial RTO implementations in the face of real settings regarding the choice of steady-state detection methods and parameters, the choice of adjustable model parameters and selected variables in the model adaptation problem, the convergence determination of optimization techniques, among other aspects, in the presence of real noisy data. Results clearly show the importance of a robust and careful consideration of all aspects of a two-step RTO structure, as well as of the performance evaluation, in order to have a real and undoubted improvement of process operation. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Combined Estimation and Optimal Control of Batch Membrane Processes
Processes 2016, 4(4), 43; doi:10.3390/pr4040043 -
Abstract
In this paper, we deal with the model-based time-optimal operation of a batch diafiltration process in the presence of membrane fouling. Membrane fouling poses one of the major problems in the field of membrane processes. We model the fouling behavior and estimate its
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In this paper, we deal with the model-based time-optimal operation of a batch diafiltration process in the presence of membrane fouling. Membrane fouling poses one of the major problems in the field of membrane processes. We model the fouling behavior and estimate its parameters using various methods. Least-squares, least-squares with a moving horizon, recursive least-squares methods and the extended Kalman filter are applied and discussed for the estimation of the fouling behavior on-line during the process run. Model-based optimal non-linear control coupled with parameter estimation is applied in a simulation case study to show the benefits of the proposed approach. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
An Integrated Membrane Process for Butenes Production
Processes 2016, 4(4), 42; doi:10.3390/pr4040042 -
Abstract
Iso-butene is an important material for the production of chemicals and polymers. It can take part in various chemical reactions, such as hydrogenation, oxidation and other additions owing to the presence of a reactive double bond. It is usually obtained as a
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Iso-butene is an important material for the production of chemicals and polymers. It can take part in various chemical reactions, such as hydrogenation, oxidation and other additions owing to the presence of a reactive double bond. It is usually obtained as a by-product of a petroleum refinery, by Fluidized Catalytic Cracking (FCC) of naphtha or gas-oil. However, an interesting alternative to iso-butene production is n-butane dehydroisomerization, which allows the direct conversion of n-butane via dehydrogenation and successive isomerization. In this work, a simulation analysis of an integrated membrane system is proposed for the production and recovery of butenes. The dehydroisomerization of n-butane to iso-butene takes place in a membrane reactor where the hydrogen is removed from the reaction side with a Pd/Ag alloys membrane. Afterwards, the retentate and permeate post-processing is performed in membrane separation units for butenes concentration and recovery. Four different process schemes are developed. The performance of each membrane unit is analyzed by appropriately developed performance maps, to identify the operating conditions windows and the membrane permeation properties required to maximize the recovery of the iso-butene produced. An analysis of integrated systems showed a yield of butenes higher than the other reaction products with high butenes recovery in the gas separation section, with values of molar concentration between 75% and 80%. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Optical Measuring Methods for the Investigation of High-Pressure Homogenisation
Processes 2016, 4(4), 41; doi:10.3390/pr4040041 -
Abstract
High-pressure homogenisation is a commonly used technique to produce emulsions with droplets in the micro to nano scale. Due to the flow field in the homogenizer, stresses are transferred to the interface between droplets and continuous phase. Cohesive forces within droplets interact with
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High-pressure homogenisation is a commonly used technique to produce emulsions with droplets in the micro to nano scale. Due to the flow field in the homogenizer, stresses are transferred to the interface between droplets and continuous phase. Cohesive forces within droplets interact with external stresses. To exceed the cohesive forces, high process pressures are necessary, which might cause a complex flow pattern and large flow velocities. Additionally, the pressure drop can induce cavitation. Inline measurements are a challenge, but necessary to understand droplet break-up in a high-pressure homogenizer. Recently, different optical methods have been used to investigate the flow conditions as well as the droplet deformation and break-up in high-pressure homogenisation, such as high speed imaging, particle and micro particle image velocimetry. In this review, those optical measuring methods are considered critically in their applications and limitations, achievable results and further developments. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Design of a Multi-Tube Pd-Membrane Module for Tritium Recovery from He in DEMO
Processes 2016, 4(4), 40; doi:10.3390/pr4040040 -
Abstract
Dense self-supported Pd-alloy membranes are used to selectively separate hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes. In particular, deuterium (D) and tritium (T) are currently identified as the main elements for the sustainability of the nuclear fusion reaction aimed at carbon free power generation. In the
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Dense self-supported Pd-alloy membranes are used to selectively separate hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes. In particular, deuterium (D) and tritium (T) are currently identified as the main elements for the sustainability of the nuclear fusion reaction aimed at carbon free power generation. In the fusion nuclear reactors, a breeding blanket produces the tritium that is extracted and purified before being sent to the plasma chamber in order to sustain the fusion reaction. In this work, the application of Pd-alloy membranes has been tested for recovering tritium from a solid breeding blanket through a helium purge stream. Several simulations have been performed in order to optimize the design of a Pd-Ag multi-tube module in terms of geometry, operating parameters, and membrane module configuration (series vs. parallel). The results demonstrate that a pre-concentration stage before the Pd-membrane unit is mandatory because of the very low tritium concentration in the He which leaves the breeding blanket of the fusion reactor. The most suitable operating conditions could be reached by: (i) increasing the hydrogen partial pressure in the lumen side and (ii) decreasing the shell pressure. The preliminary design of a membrane unit has been carried out for the case of the DEMO fusion reactor: the optimized membrane module consists of an array of 182 Pd-Ag tubes of 500 mm length, 10 mm diameter, and 0.100 mm wall thickness (total active area of 2.85 m2). Full article
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