Science Inventory

Conceptual Chemical Process Design for Sustainability.


Smith, R. Conceptual Chemical Process Design for Sustainability. Chapter 3, Sustainability in the Design, Synthesis and Analysis of Chemical Engineering Processes. ELSEVIER, AMSTERDAM, Holland, , 67-85, (2016).


Chapter reviews conceptual process design for chemical processes, then presents example on chlor-alkali process showing economics and importance of including biodegradation in toxicity assessment.


This chapter examines the sustainable design of chemical processes, with a focus on conceptual design, hierarchical and short-cut methods, and analyses of process sustainability for alternatives. The chapter describes a methodology for incorporating process sustainability analyses throughout the conceptual design. Hierarchical and short-cut decision-making methods will be used to approach sustainability. An example showing a sustainability-based evaluation of chlor-alkali production processes is presented with economic analysis and five pollutants described as emissions. These emissions are analyzed according to their human toxicity potential by ingestion using the Waste Reduction Algorithm and a method based on US Environmental Protection Agency reference doses, with the addition of biodegradation for suitable components. Among the emissions, mercury as an element will not biodegrade, and results show the importance of this pollutant to the potential toxicity results and therefore the sustainability of the process design. The dominance of mercury in determining the long-term toxicity results when energy use is included suggests that all process system evaluations should (re)consider the role of mercury and other non-/slow-degrading pollutants in sustainability analyses. The cycling of nondegrading pollutants through the biosphere suggests the need for a complete analysis based on the economic, environmental, and social aspects of sustainability.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/01/2016
Record Last Revised: 06/09/2017
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 336452