Special Issue "Progress in Thermal Process Engineering"

A special issue of ChemEngineering (ISSN 2305-7084).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 October 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Grützner

Institute of Chemical Engineering, Laboratory of Thermal Process Engineering, Ulm University, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: process intensification; (multiple) dividing wall columns; additive manufacturing; process simulation; process optimization; process thermodynamics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Thermal process engineering is a mature discipline and thermal separations, like distillation or extraction, have been applied for thousands of years. However, thermal separation processes are most widespread in the chemical industry and account, to a large extent, for the energy demand of chemical production. In the past few years, the chemical industry has been struggling with stricter regulations, increased global competition, higher market volatilities and changing supply chains. To react to these burdens and maintain competitiveness, it is therefore mandatory for the chemical industry to develop more flexible and efficient processes. The fast evolution in the field of intensified processes, for instance, reactive distillation or the dividing wall column, reflects this trend very well. In recent years, the focus has moved towards the flexibility of equipment and entire production plants. The idea is to reduce CAPEX by utilization of standardized equipment that can be applied in a wide operation window. Flexible container-based or skid-mounted production units are also discussed in this context. These plants can easily be adapted to changing production volumes by a simple numbering-up, which reduces the risk of large investments in a volatile market.

The mentioned concepts also make new methods for modelling and simulation necessary. Significant progress has been made, for instance, in the field of CFD-simulations or mathematical optimization of mixed integer non-linear problems in the past few years.

Even though thermal process engineering is old, it still holds plenty of opportunities for improvements, optimization and new concepts. This Special Issue aims to reflect these efforts.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Grützner
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. ChemEngineering is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Process Intensification
  • process integration
  • energy efficiency
  • resource efficiency
  • modelling
  • simulation
  • flexible and modular production concepts
  • heat integration
  • optimization

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Simulation of Conjugate Heat Transfer in Thermal Processes with Open Source CFD
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3020059
Received: 8 May 2019 / Revised: 29 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 6 June 2019
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Abstract
A verification and validation study was performed using the open source computational fluid dynamics software package OpenFOAM version 6-dev for conjugate heat transfer problems. The test cases had a growing complexity starting from a simple steady state problem over unsteady heat transfer to [...] Read more.
A verification and validation study was performed using the open source computational fluid dynamics software package OpenFOAM version 6-dev for conjugate heat transfer problems. The test cases had a growing complexity starting from a simple steady state problem over unsteady heat transfer to more realistic engineering applications. First, a fin effectiveness study was performed. Then, the external convection at pipes and internal pipe heat transfer were investigated. The validity of the techniques was shown for each test case by comparing the simulation results with experimental and analytic data available in the literature. Finally, a simplified shell-and-tube heat exchanger was simulated to demonstrate how these methods can be applied to plant scale engineering problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Thermal Process Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Parameter Estimation Strategies in Thermodynamics
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3020056
Received: 26 February 2019 / Revised: 23 May 2019 / Accepted: 26 May 2019 / Published: 1 June 2019
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Abstract
Many thermodynamic models used in practice are at least partially empirical and thus require the determination of certain parameters using experimental data. However, due to the complexity of the models involved as well as the inhomogeneity of available data, a straightforward application of [...] Read more.
Many thermodynamic models used in practice are at least partially empirical and thus require the determination of certain parameters using experimental data. However, due to the complexity of the models involved as well as the inhomogeneity of available data, a straightforward application of basic methods often does not yield a satisfactory result. This work compares three different strategies for the numerical solution of parameter estimation problems, including errors both in the input and in the output variables. Additionally, the new idea to apply multi-criteria optimization techniques to parameter estimation problems is presented. Finally, strategies for the estimation and propagation of the model errors are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Thermal Process Engineering)
Open AccessArticle
Design Considerations of a Simplified Multiple Dividing Wall Column Pilot Plant
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3020034
Received: 22 February 2019 / Revised: 28 March 2019 / Accepted: 30 March 2019 / Published: 3 April 2019
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Abstract
This contribution elaborates the design considerations of a simplified version of a four-product multiple dividing wall column in pilot plant scale that will be built at Ulm University. This will be the first realization of a multiple dividing wall column worldwide. A detailed [...] Read more.
This contribution elaborates the design considerations of a simplified version of a four-product multiple dividing wall column in pilot plant scale that will be built at Ulm University. This will be the first realization of a multiple dividing wall column worldwide. A detailed simulation approach, starting from the initialization by Vmin-method, is presented to obtain a feasible design of the column, taking into account the constraints of the operation within a university environment. The operating point was found by simulation studies, using the integrated optimization tool of AspenPlus© V10. It is shown that an NQ-curve can be applied on simplified multiple dividing wall columns. Based on the determined operating point, the thermodynamic and the fluid dynamic design of the pilot plant are discussed in detail. It is shown that the designed column can be operated to obtain all products with a purity of at least 98 mol%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Thermal Process Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Extraction Centrifuges—Intensified Equipment Facilitating Modular and Flexible Plant Concepts
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3010017
Received: 13 December 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2019 / Accepted: 30 January 2019 / Published: 11 February 2019
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Abstract
In recent years, modularization of chemical production plants has become a widely discussed trend to overcome some of key issues the chemical industry struggles with. High volatility in raw material and customer markets, shorter product life cycles, cost pressure and increasing competition are [...] Read more.
In recent years, modularization of chemical production plants has become a widely discussed trend to overcome some of key issues the chemical industry struggles with. High volatility in raw material and customer markets, shorter product life cycles, cost pressure and increasing competition are just a few of them. Modularization of chemical production offers the opportunity to deal with these issues. The unit operations, which are capable to be applied in modular plant concepts, are subject of on-going research. On the reaction side, tubular continuous flow reactors are typical assets and methods for design and operation are available on a high technical level. Separation units on the downstream side are not yet developed to technical maturity. This paper focuses on extraction centrifuges, which are promising devices due to their large range of application, small volumes, high separation efficiency and excellent scalability. Industrial examples show the performance of extraction centrifuges in multi-purpose large-scale production facilities and prove that these units are predestined for application in modular plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Thermal Process Engineering)
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Open AccessArticle
Thermodynamic Assessment of the Suitability of the Limiting Selectivity to Screen Ionic Liquid Entrainers for Homogeneous Extractive Distillation Processes
ChemEngineering 2018, 2(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering2040054
Received: 2 October 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 6 November 2018 / Published: 9 November 2018
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Abstract
As a result of their high tuneability and low volatility, room temperature ionic liquids have been proposed as replacement solvents in a wide range of industrial applications. They are particularly well-suited for use as an entrainer (or solvent) in extractive distillation processes to [...] Read more.
As a result of their high tuneability and low volatility, room temperature ionic liquids have been proposed as replacement solvents in a wide range of industrial applications. They are particularly well-suited for use as an entrainer (or solvent) in extractive distillation processes to separate close boiling and azeotropic mixtures. The limiting selectivity is a common, fundamental parameter used to screen and rank entrainer candidates. In the present study, we present a detailed thermodynamic analysis to understand the basis for its use along with the necessary, underlying assumptions. We find that, while for many cases the limiting selectivity can correctly rank ionic liquid entrainer candidates for homogeneous extractive distillation processes, it is not always able to capture the correct phase behavior. We, instead, recommend the use of composition dependent activity coefficients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Thermal Process Engineering)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Flexibility Options for Absorption and Distillation to Adapt to Raw Material Supply and Product Demand Uncertainties: A Review
ChemEngineering 2019, 3(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemengineering3020044
Received: 25 February 2019 / Revised: 8 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 3 May 2019
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Abstract
The chemical industry has to deal with increasing uncertainties regarding the boundary conditions of their production processes. On the one hand, uncertainties affect the availability, quality, and prizes of raw material and energy. On the other hand, the demand side is affected by [...] Read more.
The chemical industry has to deal with increasing uncertainties regarding the boundary conditions of their production processes. On the one hand, uncertainties affect the availability, quality, and prizes of raw material and energy. On the other hand, the demand side is affected by increasing volatilities in product demand and increasing requirements for product variety. These changing boundary conditions lead to higher needs for flexibility in production processes of the chemical industry. Within this article technical solutions for an enhancement of different forms of flexibility are presented for production concepts and apparatus concepts, respectively. The latter focuses on unit operations for the separation of gas–liquid mixtures. This includes a review regarding transformable, modular production processes and a classification of their field of application. Additionally, concepts for named unit operations on different scales are presented and discussed. The presented concepts are also classified with respect to the different types of flexibility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Progress in Thermal Process Engineering)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Title: Selection of optimum separation sequence for multicomponent distillation

Author: Tsirlin A.M., Sukin I.A., Balunov A.I.

Abstract: Authors show that the energy demand per mole of the mixture being separated depend on the efficiency value monotonously in the case of a constant column capacity and under the assumption of reversibility. The papers present the optimum separation sequence such that the total heat cost for the multicolumn system reaches its minimum. Authors show that this sequence is determined by the value of the so-called "temperature coefficients". These coefficients depend only on temperatures of the reboiler and the reflux drum. The paper contains the algorithm for calculation of these coefficients for the case of fractional distillation.

Keywords: distillation, multicomponent mixtures, temperature coefficient, separation sequence, maximum capacity, optimum energy demand

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