Pilot Plant Design Proves Viability of Chemical Processes

by | EPIC Modular Process

Finished pilot plant shippingPilot plants are designed to prove production capabilities for new processes or test viability of an established process on a larger scale. A higher than average number of sampling points and instruments are typical in pilot plants, and are used to measure process parameters and results.

Design of pilot skids is not straight forward. Scale-up of chemical processes is not linear and you cannot simply increase the ingredients of a successful process system proportionately. With increased scale, surface area to mass ratios change. Laminar and turbulent flow patterns alter,  due to the new surface ratio. Reaction kinetics, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics also change non-proportionally.

Through process ASPEN/Hysys process modeling, a successful pilot plant can be designed. Process flow diagrams (PFD’s), piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&ID’s), material balances and equipment layout are developed by process system experts based on the process modeling results.

A variety of chemical processes and applications can be proven with a pilot plant. A few examples of recent pilot plants developed by EPIC include:

  • Apilot skid absorption column CO2 absorption column pilot skid

This large absorption column –  similar to a distillation column – strips CO2 out of flue gas at refineries. A new technology by Akermin, this pilot plant skid was installed at a test facility in Alabama. Data from the test plant was used to prove to investors and the US Government the viability of the new process, and has since led Akermin to build multiple units with evolved versions of the technology.


  • biofuel pilot plantLiquid biofuel from biomass process

Needing to prove full-production feasibility, this challenging biomass to liquid fuel application had several unique challenges. Traditional electric heating sources were not sufficient for the process. There were no pre-existing utility systems in the lab where the demonstration plant would be installed. The skid would also have to be fully enclosed to be installed in it’s final destination, and safety rated for an earthquake zone.


  • Batch-Reactor-Pilot-PlantAgricultural fertilizer formed through ion-exchange reaction process

A highly corrosive process was proven through a demonstration plant with a high number of sampling points. Production level equipment and an after-process effluent processing system were tested and vetted. After several months of testing the highly corrosive batch process, the parent company was ready to build a full-scale production facility for the product.

If you have a chemical process you would like to scale-up to a pilot plant or demonstration module, contact one of our process system experts today.

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