A Chemical Industry Case Study

The team at Thermal Kinetics handles projects across a wide range of industries; from metal processing and pharmaceutical to food processing and renewable fuels. To illustrate Thermal Kinetics’ capabilities for the chemical industry, we’ve outlined a relevant case study below.

GS Caltex Acid Recovery Unit

In 2015, GS Caltex, which is jointly owned by GS Holding and Chevron, contacted Thermal Kinetics regarding their evaporation system needs. They required a highly efficient sulfuric-acid recovery system, which would be used in their first-ever bio-butanol plant.

We designed a system that would re-concentrate a 15%-by-weight sulfuric-acid feedstock containing residual sugars. The separation process included sophisticated mechanical and control features that would minimize the effect of foaming. The 75% H2SO4 product being delivered from the evaporator would then be reintroduced into a biomass process that hydrolyzes cellulose.

The acid concentration process centered on the use of a falling-film, single-effect evaporator. Although the H2SO4 and water separation process is straightforward and simple, the system design was complicated by the fact that a range of materials was needed in order to reliably withstand the corrosiveness of the acid at high vacuum and elevated temperatures. Glass-lined vessels, PTFE-lined pipe and pumps, and graphite heat exchangers were all used in the design.

Thermal Kinetics was able to deliver the final system within the client’s requested time frame, with a modular assembly being delivered over a period of 45 weeks.

The main module was export boxed, and auxiliary subassemblies and components were shipped in two standard 40-foot sea containers.

Comprehensive reassembly plans were provided so that our customer could easily erect the system on-site. Start-up assistance will be provided once the customer is ready.

Thermal Kinetics is proud to provide these types of services to our clients and works closely with client teams to create top-quality systems tailored for specific applications.

To learn more about our previous projects or discuss how we can help with your evaporator system needs, contact us today. We’re on hand to answer any questions you may have.