Want to build a pilot plant to test process technology, but not sure how to get started? What does a pilot plant cost? What steps are involved?

The six basic steps of pilot plant design are:

  1. Consultation – with a professional process engineering company
  2. Design – creating process flow diagrams, P&ID’s and specifying the basic system components
  3. Advanced 3D modeling and process simulation – the process technology and proposed pilot plant equipment are run through an engineering simulation to ensure proper equipment sizing, system controls, and to find the optimal pilot plant design.
  4. Controls engineering – automation and controls are developed for the pilot skid, installed, and tested during fabrication and assembly.
  5. Fabrication and assembly – of the process module(s) begins after final design is completed. Factory acceptance testing (FAT) is conducted at the end of fabrication to ensure proper module function.
  6. Installation – after testing is completed, pilot plants are shipped to their final destination and installed. Typical installation only takes a few days, with minimal plant interruption.
  7. Startup – modules are fully commissioned with punch-list resolution. Training for operators and maintenance personnel is conducted and the pilot plant is turned over with complete documentation.

When it comes to pilot plant cost, the specific price depends on many factors, for example:

  • What is the required output? What processing time maximizes output while ensuring the process stays in control?
  • How toxic or volatile are substances involved? Will they require special equipment, alloys, or safety considerations?
  • Where is the pilot module going? Are the special design requirements or compensations for existing plant layout?
  • How many pieces of data must be collected or monitored? How many sampling points will be required? How often must data be collected and logged, and by what method?

The specific list of considerations is unique to the application being scaled. These are the types of questions that are explored and answered in partnership with a professional pilot plant design firm. 3D modeling and simulation will help provide optimal equipment and system arrangements, run-times and process parameters. To discuss a pilot plant design project, contact an engineer today.

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