Pilot Plant Studies

Obviously, some waste reduction work must be done. In addition to verifying the chemistry proven in the laboratory, an effective waste elimination strategy dictates that the pilot plant be used to quantify the nonproductive activities which include:

• Start up and shutdown losses

• Reactor washings between operations

• Sampling and analytical losses

• Catalyst usage and losses

• Incidental losses from spills and equipment cleanings

• Packaging requirements for raw materials and products

The key parameters to evaluate during a pilot plant study include:

• Flexibility in the selection of raw materials to minimize waste volume and toxicity

• Methods of improving process reliability to minimize spills and off-spec production

• The ability to track and control all waste streams

• The potential impacts of the process on the public, including odor generation, visible emissions, fear generated by the handling of toxic materials, emergency considerations, and so on

Process reliability is generally considered from the health and safety perspective. Reliability also affects waste generation by preventing situations that might result in releases or off-spec products. Sequencing operations to reduce equipment cleaning and reactor washing between steps also reduces the amount of nonproduction waste associated with the process.

A major problem that interferes with the ability of many operating plants to minimize their waste is a lack of adequate process measurement. Thus, the installation of point-of-generation measurement systems should be incorporated into the process and plant design.

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