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CHE655 Plant Design Project #2

Summer 2014
(Courtesy of the Department of Chemical Engineering at West Virginia University)

Cumene (isopropyl benzene) is produced by reacting propylene and benzene over an acid
catalyst. Cumene may be used to increase the octane in gasoline, but its primary use is as a
feedstock for manufacturing phenol and acetone.
The plant where you are employed has been buying cumene to produce phenol. Management
is considering manufacturing cumene rather than purchasing it to increase profits. Someone
has made a preliminary sketch for such a process and has submitted to the engineering
department for consideration. Your group is assigned the problem of evaluating the sketch and
recommending improvements in the preliminary design. Note that optimization is NOT
required in this design project.

Process Description
Figure 1 is a preliminary process flow diagram (PFD) for the cumene production process. The
raw materials are benzene and propylene. The propylene feed contains 5 wt% propane as an
impurity. It is a saturated liquid at 25C. The benzene feed, which may be considered pure, is
liquid at 1 atm and 25C. Both feeds are pumped to about 3000 kPa by pumps P-201 and P202, are then vaporized and superheated to 350C in a fired heater (H-201). The fired heater
outlet stream is sent to a packed bed reactor (R-201) in which cumene is formed as a desired
product and p-diisopropyl benzene (PDIB) as an undesired product. The reactor effluent is sent
to a flash unit (V-201) in which light gases (mostly propane and propylene, some benzene,
cumene and PDIB) are separated as vapor in Stream 9. Stream 10, containing mostly cumene
and benzene, is sent to a distillation column (T-201) to separate benzene for recycle from
cumene product. The desired cumene production rate is 100,000 metric tons/yr.

Process Details
Feed Streams
Stream 1: benzene, pure liquid, 25C and 1 atm
Stream 2: propylene with 5 wt% propane impurity, saturated liquid at 25C
Effluent Streams
Stream 9: fuel gas stream, credit may be taken for LHV of fuel
Stream 12: cumene product; must be > 99 wt% purity

Pump (P-201):
The pump increases pressure of the benzene feed from 1 atm to about 3000 kPa.
Pump (P-202):
The pump increases the pressure of the propylene feed to about 3000 kPa.
Fired Heater (H-201):
The fired heater desubcools, vaporizes, and superheats the mixed feed up to 350C. Air
and natural gas must be fed to the fired heater. Natural gas is priced at its lower heating
value. The fired heater is 75% efficient.
Reactor (R-201):
The reactor feed must be between 300C - 400C and between 2800 kPa - 3200 kPa.
Benzene must be present in at least 50% excess. Conversion of the limiting reactant is
92%. The reactor may be assumed isothermal, and the exothermic heat of reaction is
removed by vaporizing boiler feed water to make high-pressure steam. Credit may be
taken for the high-pressure steam.
Main reaction:

C3 H 6

C6 H 6

propylene benzene

C9 H 12

Side reaction:

C3 H 6 C9 H12 C12 H18

propylene cumene

p - diisopropyl benzene

Flash Vessel (V-201):

This is actually a combination of a heat exchanger and a flash drum. The temperature
and pressure are lowered in order to separate the propane and propylene from the
cumene and benzene. Cooling water is used to lower the temperature.
Distillation Column (T-201):
Here all cumene and PDIB impurity in Stream 10 goes into Stream 12, and is in the
liquid phase. All benzene, propylene and propane go to Stream 11, and is also in the
liquid phase. A distillation column requires both heat addition and heat removal. Heat
removal is accomplished in a condenser (not shown), which requires an amount of
cooling water necessary to condense the contents of Stream 11. Heat addition is
accomplished in a reboiler (not shown), which requires an amount of high-pressure
steam necessary to vaporize the cumene in Stream 12.

Design of Heat Exchanger in V-201

A detailed design of the heat exchanger in V-201 is required for base-case conditions. It should
be assumed that cooling water is available at the conditions specified in the Appendix of this
problem statement. For this heat exchanger design, the following information should be

Diameter of shell
Number of tube and shell passes
Number of tubes per pass
Tube pitch and arrangement (triangular/square/..)
Number of shell-side baffles, if any, and their arrangement (spacing, pitch, type)
Diameter, tube-wall thickness, shell-wall thickness, and length of tubes
Calculation of both shell- and tube-side film heat transfer coefficients
Calculation of overall heat transfer coefficient (you may assume that there is no
fouling on either side of the exchanger)
Heat transfer area of the exchanger
Shell-side and tube-side pressure drops (calculated, not estimated)
Materials of construction
Approximate cost of the exchanger

A detailed sketch of the exchanger should be included along with a set of comprehensive
calculations in an appendix for the design of the heat exchanger. You should use ASPEN
Exchanger Design & Rating (EDR) in the ASPEN Plus simulator to carry out the detailed

Cumene Production Reaction

For final design of this process, the kinetics for the reactions given below should be used. For
the desired reaction:
C3 H 6 C6 H 6
C9 H12

propylene benzene cumene

r1 k1c p cb

mole / g cat sec

k1 35
. 104 exp


For the undesired reaction:

C3 H 6


C9 H12 2 C12 H18

p diisopropyl benzene


r2 k2c p cc

mole / g cat sec

k2 2.9 106 exp


where the units of the activation energy are kcal/mol, the units of concentration are mol/L, and
the temperature is in Kelvin.
For a shell and tube packed bed, the recommended configuration, the following data may be
catalyst particle diameter dp = 3 mm
catalyst particle density cat = 1600 kg/m3
void fraction = 0.50
heat transfer coefficient from packed bed to tube wall h = 60 W/m2C
use standard tube sheet layouts as for a heat exchanger
if tube diameter is larger than in tube sheet layouts, assume that tube area is 1/3 of shell area

Economic Analysis
When evaluating alternative cases, you should carry out an economic evaluation and
profitability analysis based on a number of economic criteria such as payback period, internal
rate of return, and cash flow analysis. In addition, the following objective function should be
used. It is the equivalent annual operating cost (EAOC), and is defined as
EAOC = -(product value - feed cost - other operating costs - capital cost annuity)
A negative EAOC means there is a profit. It is desirable to minimize the EAOC; i.e., a large
negative EAOC is very desirable, although you are not being asked to carry out optimization.
The costs for cumene (the product) and benzene (the feed) should be obtained from the
Chemical Marketing Reporter, which is in the Evansdale Library. The impure propylene
feed is $0.095/lb.
The capital cost annuity is an annual cost (like a car payment) associated with the one-time,
fixed cost of plant construction. The capital cost annuity is defined as follows:

capital cost annuity FCI

i (1 i ) n
(1 i ) n 1

where FCI is the installed cost of all equipment; i is the interest rate, i = 0.15; and n is the plant
life for accounting purposes, n = 10.
For detailed sizing, costing, and economic evaluation including profitability analysis, you may
use the Aspen Process Economic Analyzer (formerly Aspen Icarus Process Evaluator) in Aspen
Plus. However, it is also a good idea to independently verify the final numbers based on other
sources such as cost data given below.

Other Information
You should assume that a year equals 8000 hours. This is about 330 days, which allows for
periodic shut-down and maintenance.

Final Comments
As with any open-ended problem; i.e., a problem with no single correct answer, the problem
statement above is deliberately vague. You may need to fill in some missing data by doing a
literature search, Internets search, or making assumptions. The possibility exists that as you
work on this problem, your questions will require revisions and/or clarifications of the problem
statement. You should be aware that these revisions/clarifications may be forthcoming.
Moreover, in some areas (e.g. sizing/costing) you are given more data and information than
what is needed. You must exercise engineering judgment and decide what data to use. Also you
should also seek additional data from the literature or Internet to verify some of the data, e.g.
the prices of products and raw materials.

Cost Data
Raw Materials
Benzene (> 99.9 wt% purity)

see Chemical Marketing Reporter

Propylene ( 5 wt% propane impurity)


Cumene (> 99 wt% purity)

see Chemical Marketing Reporter

Utility Costs
Low Pressure Steam (446 kPa saturated)

$3.00/1000 kg

Medium Pressure Steam (1135 kPa saturated)

$6.50/1000 kg

High Pressure Steam (4237 kPa saturated)

$8.00/1000 kg

Natural Gas (446 kPa, 25C)

$3.00/106 kJ

Fuel Gas (446 kPa, 25C)

$2.75/106 kJ



Boiler Feed Water (at 549 kPa, 90C)

$300.00/1000 m3

Cooling Water
$20.00/1000 m3
available at 516 kPa and 30C
return pressure 308 kPa
return temperature is no more than 15C above the inlet temperature
Refrigerated Water
available at 516 kPa and 10C
return pressure 308 kPa
return temperature is no higher than 20C

$200.00/1000 m3

Waste Treatment

$1/kg organic waste

Equipment Costs (Purchased)


$630 (power, kW)0.4

Heat Exchangers $1030 (area, m2)0.6


$770 (power, kW)0.96 + 400 (power, kW)0.6


$2.18105 (power output, MW)0.6

assume 65% efficiency

Fired Heater

$635 (duty, kW)0.8

assume 80% thermal efficiency
assume can be designed to use any organic compound as a fuel


$[1.67(0.959 + 0.041P - 8.310-6P2)]10z

z = (3.17 + 0.2D + 0.5 log10L + 0.21 log10L2)
D = diameter, m 0.3 m < D < 4.0 m
L = height, m L/D < 20
P = absolute pressure, bar




Cost as vessel with appropriate additional volume for cooling coil

(fluidized bed) or tubes (shell and tube packed bed)

Packed Tower

Cost as vessel plus cost of packing


$(-110 + 675D + 338D2)H0.97

D = vessel diameter, m; H = vessel height, m

Tray Tower

Cost as vessel plus cost of trays


$(187 + 20D + 61.5D2)

D = vessel diameter, m

Storage Tank

V = volume, m3

It may be assumed that pipes and valves are included in the equipment cost factors.
Location of key valves should be specified on the PFD.

Equipment Cost Factors


< 10 atm, 0.0

10 - 20 atm, 0.6
20 - 40 atm, 3.0
40 - 50 atm, 5.0
50 - 100 atm, 10

Carbon Steel
Stainless Steel


does not apply to turbines, compressors, vessels,

packing, trays, or catalyst, since their cost equations
include pressure effects

Total Installed Cost = Purchased Cost (4 + material factor + pressure factor)

Heat Exchangers
For heat exchangers, use the following approximations for heat transfer coefficients to allow
you to determine the heat transfer area:

h (W/m2C)

condensing steam


condensing organic


boiling water


boiling organic


flowing liquid


flowing gas


1. Felder, R.M. and R.W. Rousseau, Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes (2nd ed.),
Wiley, New York, 1986.
2. Perry, R.H. and D. Green, eds., Perrys Chemical Engineering Handbook (6th ed.),
McGraw-Hill, New York, 1984, p. 9-74.