Remove Risk from Full-Scale Projects

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Pilot plants demonstrate the feasibility of proposed process technologies for real-world operations.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

De-risking has always been the driving force behind pilot plants and that force is as strong, if not stronger, in today’s environment of ever-shorter product life cycles. For example, when a company’s research and development group has an idea for a new process technology, testing may be performed at a “glass scale.“

“This can mean making only one liter of a certain chemical, similar to the type of tests you do in a high school chemistry class,” according to John Schott P.E., president of EPIC Systems Inc., St. Louis (epicsysinc.com), a manufacturing and service company that designs, integrates, and builds pilot-plant solutions for manufacturers worldwide. “Let’s say all goes well. The tests show the technology works at that scale. But are they convinced enough to take the risk to build a plant for $150 million that produces 10,000 pounds of the material each day? In most cases, it’s just too big a jump to spend that kind of money and hope a plant works.” A pilot plant is meant to show that a process technology can be made at a smaller industrial scale, or perhaps two evolutions of that scale, before a larger, full-scale production plant is built. Click here to reqd full article.